3 Zuckeralternativen - Stevia, Lucuma, Xylitol

Global sugar consumption has tripled in the last 50 years, largely due to large amounts of "hidden sugar" in cakes, candy and other convenience foods. We all know that too much refined sugar can lead to obesity, but did you know that it is highly addictive and can be extremely unhealthy? In this article, you'll learn about the dangers of processed sugar and discover three sugar alternatives that are easy to incorporate into your daily diet.

Sugar consumption increases

If you ask an average person what foods contain sugar, they will most likely give obvious examples like cakes and sweets. However, sugar is found in almost all processed foods, including sauces, soups, breads, meats, salad dressings, soft drinks, and fruit drinks. You only have to read the labels on the groceries in your kitchen cupboard to realize that most of them contain some form of sugar. Manufacturers are increasingly using sugar to extend shelf life and add weight cheaply. Though few of us put sugar in our tea and even fewer sprinkle it on our cereal and pudding, we're consuming more of it than ever before. Over the past two decades, sugar consumption has increased by 31% to 750 grams per person per week. At the beginning of the 18th century the annual Per capita consumption at only 2000 grams!

Why is refined sugar so bad for us?

Table sugar is made from sugar beet and sugar cane. It is a highly refined white sugar with all valuable nutrients such as fiber, minerals, enzymes and vitamins removed. This type of sugar is also chemically bleached.

Consistently high sugar consumption can cause or contribute to:
• Overweight and obesity
• A weakened immune system leading to reduced protection against infectious diseases
• A reduction in insulin sensitivity, leading to abnormally high insulin levels, hormone imbalances and even diabetes
• Premature aging due to a sugar-triggered insulin surge
• High blood pressure and damage to blood vessels, which can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease
• Cancer - Sugar 'feeds' cancer cells and has been linked to the development of breast, ovarian, prostate, rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, stomach and lung cancer
• A rapid rise in adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and tantrums in children. Too much sugar can cause learning difficulties and worsen ADHD symptoms

How can I reduce my refined sugar intake?

Since they often increase our sugar cravings and can have carcinogenic and/or other worrying side effects, artificial sweeteners like aspartame are not the answer. Luckily, there are a number of natural sweeteners (see below) that you can swap out for unhealthy, processed, and refined sugars.

Stevia
Stevia is an all-natural sweetener made from the stevia plant, which grows primarily in Paraguay and Brazil. Usually available in liquid form, it contains no sugar or carbohydrates and has a glycemic index of 0, making it perfectly safe for diabetics and a useful tool to combat high blood sugar levels. Unlike refined sugar, stevia is high in beneficial nutrients like magnesium, chromium, potassium, selenium, niacin, manganese, and zinc. Stevia consumption is known to significantly reduce sugar cravings. Being zero calorie makes it absolutely ideal for those looking to lose weight.

Stevia doesn't harm our teeth, has virtually no aftertaste and is a perfect sugar substitute for smoothies, shakes, lemonades and herbal teas.

Lucuma
Lucuma powder is a natural sweetener made from the Peruvian lucuma fruit, which has long been associated with fertility. Known as "Inca Gold", Lucuma has an exceptionally high nutritional value, possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in antioxidants. Lucuma powder also has a low glycemic index and is a particularly suitable sugar substitute for diabetics. In addition, lucuma is a valuable source of dietary fiber and B vitamins, which are crucial for healthy digestion. It is high in niacin, which helps prevent heart disease, and contains iron, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, all of which are necessary for healthy cell function.

Lucuma powder is delicious in smoothies and fruit juices and can be used as an ingredient in puddings, cakes, pastries and ice cream.

Xylitol
Xylitol is made from natural fibers found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. This low-calorie alternative to table sugar was first discovered in the late 1800s. It's popular with diabetics thanks to its low glycemic index, which means it breaks down more slowly than sugar and doesn't contribute to high blood sugar levels. Xylitol is also known for its tooth-friendly properties. Recent research concludes that xylitol has a plaque-reducing effect. 

Xylitol is available in powder or crystal form, which can be used in cooking and baking like regular sugar. You can easily use it over muesli or fruit and to sweeten tea and coffee.

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