Sweet is the flavor everyone loves. It is one of the five basic tastes (along with salty, sour, bitter, and umami) and the one that offers the greatest pleasure to anyone feeling it. Unfortunately, sweet is also the taste of fat deposits.
Today, we have an incredible variety of sweets available to us wherever we go, from ice cream and popsicles to candy and sugary drinks. Sugar is a readily available energy source – and the body, when it gets energy, it stores it in fat deposits. This adds inches to our waist and can remove years from our lifespan, though. Most tips on longevity start with “lose fat” – and most fat loss tips start with “cut back on sugar”. But without sweetness, life gets boring – so let’s take a look at what we can replace the common and potentially unhealthy sugar in our lives.
Honey is often pointed out as a healthy alternative to sugar, even in fat loss diets. This is, in turn, a mistake: honey has more calories than sugar. It is, in turn, sweeter, too, so less of it is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness. Thus, overall, it is indeed a healthier sweetener than refined sugar.
Honey has some health benefits, too – so it’s a perfect replacement for sugar in cakes, herbal teas, and lemonades.
Artificial sweeteners are seen as a rather controversial matter. Some say they are the Holy Grail of weight loss, others claim that they are harmful. There are several sugar substitutes available on the market today, offering a similar level of sweetness (albeit a different taste) to those who want to avoid sugar altogether.
In most cases, artificial sweeteners are consumed moderately, which makes them generally safe. In high doses, though, they can cause trouble.
Stevia is a sugar replacement that has recently received a lot of publicity. It is a plant-based alternative to sugar, extracted from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana, a plant native to Brazil and Paraguay. Stevia is up to 150 times sweeter than sugar and, because its alkaloids are not digested by the human body, its calorie content is pretty much zero.
Stevia could be the ideal sugar replacement and its use is approved in many countries – the US, the EU, and Japan come to mind. But all of them agree that consuming stevia in high doses can be harmful, so care must be taken when using it.
Considering how sweet it is, though, an “overdose” is out of the question in normal everyday use.
Why replace sugar?
Sugar is not unhealthy in itself – but many people abuse it. Just think of the sprinkled glazed doughnut filled with chocolate cream that you are so eager to eat and wash down with a can of soda. These two contain the recommended quantity of sugar for a whole day or two – and they are not the only sugary things you eat and drink in a day. Most of the calories you put inside you in a day turn into fat deposits that are, in turn, harmful if unchecked.