Diabetes has affected over 77 million Indians, as per estimates. A chronic condition, diabetes can lead to various other ailments such as cardiac diseases and blood pressure among other lifestyle conditions. In recent times, it has also been identified as a high-risk factor that can make a person susceptible to complications due to an infection like COVID-19, says Dr Manoj Chawla, director and consultant diabetologist at Lina Diabetes Care and Mumbai Diabetes Research Centre.
Sugar is one of the many food items that people living with diabetes should avoid in order to keep their condition under control. However, with the availability of healthy alternatives, one can satiate their sweet cravings. These substitutes can be opted for on an occasional basis in consultation with your treating doctor as each ingredient may work differently for each person.
These are one of the most preferred synthetic sugar substitutes used in food outlets, snacks and beverages etc. They are extremely sweet, so even by adding a little bit, you can enjoy the sweets. Since they don’t add any calories, they might even be good for weight loss. An artificial sweetener that is approved by the relevant authorities in accordance with the advice of the treating physician is a safe option.
Raw or forest honey is among one of the most preferred natural sweeteners globally. It is not only a sweetener but also great health food with good quantities of vitamin B6, enzymes, zinc, iron, calcium potassium, antioxidants, phosphorus, niacin and riboflavin. Collectively, these nutrients are capable of stimulating good microbes present in the gastrointestinal tract. It must be remembered that it has to be completely unprocessed and raw honey is available with beekeepers or local brands that sell the unpasteurised forest, honey. Processed honey loses most of the nutrients in the pasteurisation process and provides very little benefits. The darker raw honey is also richer in taste.
There is a compelling reason why dates have been a favourite since ancient times. They contain a lot of magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, manganese and iron. The consumption of dates can reduce cholesterol level in the blood, and help in the absorption of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Dates reduce the risk of stroke and are easily digestible.
This plant has been used as a natural sweetener in beverages for centuries. The sweetener is extracted from the plant’s leaves. It is capable of supporting weight loss. It is so strong that it is considered to be about 200 times sweeter than sugar and can be used in the form of liquid droplets, baking mixes, sachets, as well as dissolvable tablets. It also has no side effects, calories or carbohydrates.
Coconut is known for its diverse benefits and uses, the latest addition to which is coconut sugar. This highly delicious natural sweetener is gaining popularity due to its low glucose content and richness of minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, zinc and antioxidants etc. Coconut is found in abundance in almost all parts of the world which makes it an even better option.
Bananas are rich sources of fibre and potassium as well as vitamins B6 and C. They are very sweet and banana paste is used as a popular natural sweetener in traditional foods and sweet dishes.
This has become an extremely popular global natural sweetener now. The syrup is highly nutritious and contains manganese, antioxidants, zinc, calcium, iron and potassium etc. It is extracted from the trunk and roots of the red or black maple trees.
The small and green fruit is usually grown in south-east Asia. This highly beneficial natural sweetener is used in various food and beverage items. It has great anti-inflammatory properties and zero calories which make it ideal for weight loss and diabetes control.
Next time you find yourself in a dilemma where you need to choose between controlling diabetes or enjoying sweets, choose both with any of the above-mentioned alternatives in a restricted manner and in limited quantities. Make smart choices and live a healthy and safe