Excessive sugar intake and diabetes are a serious concern, especially around the Holidays. When it comes to finding a healthy balance between your meal plan (and your children's) as well as one's sweet tooth, many of us are often confused when looking for satisfactory alternatives. When parents do find certain alternatives at their local supermarket, they are faced with choosing products fabricated in laboratories and that are more often that not produced unnaturally. Luckily natural sugars, or nutritive sweeteners, do exist to satisfy any child's sweet tooth.
When we think of natural sugars one that immediately comes to mind is maple syrup. It has recently been discovered to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight certain diseases such as diabetes. It is also said that the polyphenols found in the syrup could help control glucose levels with patients living with type II diabetes. That said, it's not recommended to just start adding maple syrup to everything in sight. In fact, one teaspoon of maple syrup has a similar glycemic index to one teaspoon of regular sugar and can therefore increase blood sugar levels. However, when incorporated to a healthy and balanced meal plan, a small amount of maple syrup can safely be used as an alternative to white sugar.
Another natural sweetener that was initially used many years ago by the Aztec people is Agave nectar. The nectar is derived from the Agave plant, the same plant from which tequila is derived, and has a honey-like taste and consistency. Agave is said to have about half of the glycemic index of regular sugar thus taking longer to increase blood sugar levels. However, Agave nectar is sweeter than sugar and should be used moderately in recipes as it quickly sweetens baked goods. Agave nectar is actually trending among the health-conscious crowds and is easily found in most supermarkets.
The sweetest of all natural sugars, Stevia, comes from a plant known as the Stevia plant. This nutritive sweetener is said to be a whopping 200-300 times sweeter than regular sugar! Stevia has been used medicinally for years as an herbal sweetener and is said to have anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. Stevia is actually recommended for people living with diabetes as it is actually calorie-free and does not affect blood glucose levels. If parents are looking to sweeten their child's oatmeal, a little bit of Stevia will do. However, due to its incredible sweetness, parents should be careful when adding Stevia to recipes.
Whether using common natural sugars such as maple syrup, honey and brown sugar, or naturally derived sugars like Agave nectar and Stevia, parents should always be mindful to test their child's blood glucose level to ensure that they are as healthy as possible. Parents can also substitute sugar in baked goods recipes with homemade sugar-free applesauce. Ultimately, the most recommended way to satisfy a child's sweet tooth is by having them eat fruit as most fruit have low glycemic indexes and offer nutritious vitamins and fibers.
CATEGORIES: Blood Sugar, Healthy Foods, Junk Food Alternatives , Kids' Health