Did you know that sugar is addictive? When it is absorbed into the body it causes a release of chemicals, serotonin and dopamine. In other words, it stimulates your brain’s reward centre making you feel more relaxed. For this reason, sugar is one of those foods that creates the feeling of always wanting more.
The World Health Organization recommends less than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day (30 grams) for adults and 5 teaspoons (19 grams) for children. And we’re not just talking about the teaspoons of sugar you add to your coffee. Sugar is in everything we eat and drink.
Luckily enough, there are countless healthy alternatives to sweeten your food and use as a substitute for sugar. The following are the most noteworthy:
- Stevia: is a green, leafy plant 30/40 times sweeter than sugar. You can also use stevia extract, which has a less bitter taste and is 400 times sweeter than sugar.
- Natural Honey: Honey contains amino acids, specific types of electrolytes and antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds. The recommended daily intake is 1 or 2 tablespoons. Note that once honey has been pasteurized, it loses many of the health benefits which are found in natural honey.
- Balsamic Glaze: Balsamic vinegar is rich in antioxidants and abundant with pepsin enzymes, that help facilitate healthy digestion.
- Maple Syrup: is a source of manganese and contains calcium, potassium, zinc along with antioxidants. Choose the darker grade B maple syrup.
- Fruit puree: Pureed banana, apple, pumpkin (all rich in fibre and nutrients such as magnesium).
- Dates: dates are loaded with fibre, potassium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and vitamin B6. They are easy to digest and help break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Evidence shows that dates help reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood and may also lower the risk of having a stroke.
How to read food labels?
- Never assume that a product has no sugar when you read “natural” or “healthy,” “gluten-free” or “low-fat” and ” diet”. Most of these products will have more added sugars to enhance flavour.
- Learn how to read labels properly and find out what exactly to look for. Food labels give information per 100g. The ideal is 5g per 100g, and the maximum limit is 15g of sugar per 100g.