As the name suggests, sugar substitutes are used as alternatives to standard table sugar, and natural sugar substitutes can be an ideal solution for individuals looking to sweeten their food without using synthetic ingredients. Unlike table sugar, many popular sugar substitutes, including stevia, are considered safe for diabetes patients and have little or no effect on blood glucose levels. Some sugar substitutes contain no fructose or glucose, and these may help individuals in reducing their overall dietary sugar intake. In the long-term, making substitutions for table sugar could enable patients to reach or maintain a healthy weight, thereby reducing the patient's potential risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Individuals with diabetes or other underlying medical conditions may wish to consult a doctor or nutritionist about the most appropriate sugar substitutes for their particular needs.
The natural sugar substitutes described below are some of the most common sugar alternatives in use today.
Although honey is still considered a form of sugar and is metabolized by the body in the same way as processed table sugar, it is considered to be healthier than ordinary sugar. Honey contains traces of several minerals and vitamins, including calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, and vitamin B6. These vitamins and minerals are most abundant in raw and dark varieties of honey. Scientists have noted honey contains phenolics and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidants. Darker types of honey are especially high in antimicrobial properties as well. Since the molecular structure of honey is similar to that of glucose, it is easily digested by the body. A 2008 study involved fifty-five overweight individuals divided into two groups. A control group consumed seventy grams of sucrose daily for thirty days, and the treatment group consumed seventy grams of natural honey for the same period. After the study, the authors found consuming honey instead of sucrose led to modest reductions in body weight and body fat percentages. In addition, honey was found to lower fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, triacylglycerol, and C-reactive protein.
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