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Sweetening Can Be Good for You
(13.12.2021) back
Sugar should only be eaten in small quantities as it can harm your health
It's difficult to imagine life without sugar – sweet cakes, torts and cookies – but unfortunately eating sweets can be bad for you
Dates can be used to make a puree or powder, both of which are healthy sugar alternatives
There are many natural, healthy sugar alternatives, for example "date sugar" – made from dried dates – or even date puree
Molasses is a natural and healthy sugar replacement
Molasses is a byproduct of sugar production that still contains all of the healthy nutrients contained in sugar cane – its malty sweetness is a healthy alternative to everyday sugar

Cakes, sugary drinks and cookies: over the course of a day, we are confronted with many sweet possibilities. Especially during the winter holidays, the number of times we're tempted by such foods increases even more – avoiding sweets during this time of year can be exceptionally challenging. In fact, the conclusion that excessive sugar consumption does nothing positive for our health has become more accepted over the years. How you can enjoy sweets in moderation and what you should pay special attention to is what we'll be covering today.

Sweet temptation – the sugar conundrum

We've all experienced that feeling of craving something sweet…some of us more frequently than others, and some less. In principal this shouldn't be such a cause for concern…in fact, it's completely natural! The reason is simple: our biological requirements include a need for sugar. The overall control centre of our bodies – the brain – needs sugar for its own growth as well as its smooth functioning. Moreover, it's a fact of evolution that our bodies naturally crave sugar so we like sweet things more or less automatically. Nonetheless it can certainly be dangerous for us to eat too much industrially produced, refined white sugar as this can be harmful to our bodies in a number of ways.

Confused about artificial sweeteners?

With the increase in globalisation and along with it an increase in industrial food production over recent decades, food science research has also been surging forward. This has led to all sorts of positive and helpful discoveries. Still, in some fields the developments have not always been helpful when it comes to human health. Take for example artificial sweeteners, of which there are a wealth of options to choose from nowadays. As research has shown, these food substitutes commonly bring with them clear disadvantages when consumed regularly over time. Sugar substitutes can increase the chance of developing some diseases, and they can also negatively affect our organs. There is another problem to be concerned about: When we consume reduced-calorie foods and relatedly reduced-sugar foods, the feeling of being satisfied with whatever we're eating is delayed. The end result can be overeating, which is not the case when eating foods that are free of artificial sweeteners.

Healthy natural alternatives

When considering these factors, one is inevitably confronted with the question of whether or not there is a natural source of sugar that is also healthy. As a rule of thumb, the best source of sugar is plant-based and either completely unprocessed or processed very little. The most natural option when you're looking for something sweet is organically grown fruit. Fruit provides the desired sweet taste as well as important vitamins and other nutrients that are good for your health.

Especially during the time around Christmas, baking is literally a hot topic. If you would like to replace everyday white sugar that most people have in their kitchen with a natural alternative, date sugar is a very good choice. This is produced from dried fruit which is ground into a powder, and you can likely find it at a health food store or organic grocery store. Another possibility is making date sauce yourself – you just puree some dried dates, after removing the pit of course. You could also use ripe banana or even apple as a sugar substitute. For sweetening drinks, add a little molasses. Naturally for all of these options, the amount you need to use will depend on personal preferences.

Source: Dr. Michael Greger and Gene Stone, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Flatiron Books, 2015

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