When choosing foods, it's important to check the ingredients closely, especially when it comes to sugar and sugar substitutes. Sugar is found in many products and can have a negative impact on our health when consumed in large quantities. In this article, we're going to help you identify the different sweeteners found in foods and give you tips on how to maintain a healthy diet.
Added Sugar: "No Added Sugar" - What does that mean?
Often we see the words "No added sugar" on food packaging and think that the product contains no sugar. But that is not always the case. In fact, a product can be labeled "no added sugar" even if it contains naturally occurring sugars. This is because the term "added sugar" refers to added sugars, while natural sugars, such as those found in fruit, are not considered additives.
In order to find out whether a food really contains no sugar, it is important to check the list of ingredients. There you will find information about the actual sugar content of the product. Look out for terms like "glucose," "fructose," "sucrose," or "syrup," which may indicate higher sugar levels.
Sweeteners: an alternative to sugar?
If you want to reduce your sugar consumption, you can use alternative sweeteners. These offer a way to sweeten foods without raising blood sugar levels as much as sugar does.
Stevia: Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has a much higher sweetening power than sugar and contains no calories. Stevia is good for sweetening drinks and desserts.
Erythritol: Erythritol is another popular sweetener. It has a sweetening power similar to sugar, but contains few calories and does not have a major effect on blood sugar levels. Erythritol is commonly used in sugar-free foods and candy.
Xylitol: Xylitol is similar in structure and taste to sugar. It has about half the calories of regular sugar and only slightly affects blood sugar levels. Xylitol is often found in sugar-free chewing gum and dental care products.
Healthy alternatives: Natural sweetness from fruit
If you're looking for healthy alternatives to refined sugar, consider fresh fruit. Fruit contains natural sugars, but it also provides important fiber, vitamins and minerals. Here are some fruity options to satisfy your sweet tooth while maintaining a healthy diet:
- Apples: Not only are apples delicious, but they also contain fiber and antioxidants that can help keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and other types of berries are high in antioxidants and contain less sugar than many other fruits.
- Citrus fruits: Oranges, lemons, grapefruits and limes are not only refreshing, but also provide a lot of vitamin C.
- Bananas: A great natural sweetener, bananas also contain potassium and fiber.
- Kiwis: Kiwis are high in vitamin C and contain less sugar than many other fruits.
- Watermelons: Watermelons are mostly water and low in sugar per serving.
- Pineapple: Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that aids in digestion, as well as vitamin C and manganese.
By incorporating these fruity alternatives into your diet, you can reduce your sugar intake while still enjoying sweet and healthy treats. However, remember to also keep an eye on your total fructose consumption and maintain a balanced diet.