Sugar is what makes food taste good. There’s no question about that. Sugar, however, can also wreak havoc on your body. Thankfully, there are sugar alternatives you can use to replace sugar in your recipes and still maintain the same sweetness factor. These healthy low-glycemic alternatives to high sugar foods will be a great addition to your recipes if you’re trying to stay healthy or if you have diabetes. They’re also ideal if you want to add some sweet flavors to a meal without making it too sweet.
In general, sugar is a carbohydrate that’s sweet and has no other nutritional value. Sugar occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, but it’s also added to foods as a sweetener or preservative.
The main types of sugars are:
Glucose – a simple sugar found in most foods and the main source of energy for cells, especially the brain. Glucose is released into the bloodstream when you digest carbohydrates (such as starch).
Fructose – a simple sugar found in fruits and some vegetables. Fructose is sweeter than glucose at the same concentration and has similar effects on blood glucose levels. Fructose is not metabolized by insulin and can be converted into triglycerides (fats) by the liver.
Galactose – a simple sugar found in milk products. It’s converted into glucose by the body and absorbed into the bloodstream at similar rates as fructose. However, it doesn’t appear to have any negative effects on blood glucose levels or metabolic syndrome risk factors like fructose does in large amounts.
Sucrose – table sugar that consists of one molecule each of glucose and fructose joined together by an enzyme during digestion.
How do different types of sugar affect blood sugar levels?
Sugars are classified into two main types: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include sugars such as glucose, fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (milk sugar) and galactose (milk sugar). Complex carbohydrates include starches and fiber, such as those found in grains such as wheat or rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn. Complex carbohydrates also contain some protein, vitamins and minerals.
5 Healthy Low-Glycemic Alternatives To High Sugar Foods
Sugar can be bad because it spikes your blood sugar levels and makes you feel hungry again soon after eating. Sugar also has a lot of calories and can make you gain weight if you eat too much of it.
If you want to cut down on the amount of sugar in your diet but still enjoy sweet foods, here are some healthy low-glycemic alternatives to high sugar foods:
- Low-Glycemic Fruit – Bananas and apples are both good sources of fiber and potassium which help keep your blood pressure down and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Apples also contain pectin which helps reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
- Low-Glycemic Dairy – Skim milk contains fewer calories than whole milk because it has been processed so all the fat has been removed, so if you have diabetes or are trying to lose weight then skim milk is better for you than whole milk or cream products like butter or cheese which contain saturated fats.
- Low Sugar Cereal – There are some low sugar cereals that are still high in fiber and nutrients. Try to find one that has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, but not more than 10 grams. You can also look for cereals that have no added sugar, or any artificial sweeteners.
- Low Sugar Granola Bars – There are some granola bars that have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving, but keep in mind that they will still be high in carbohydrates so don’t overdo it! Look for a granola bar with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving, and make sure there aren’t any added sugars or artificial sweeteners in them.
- Low Sugar Yogurt Alternatives – Yogurt is a good source of calcium, protein, and probiotics. It can also be a good source of fiber depending on what kind you choose. Plain Greek yogurt is often better for you than regular yogurt because it has less sugar and more protein. Low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt can be a great alternative to ice cream if you’re looking for something creamy and sweet. You can also use plain Greek yogurt as an alternative to egg whites in recipes like meringues or macaroons.
There’s no denying the success of junk food, but that doesn’t mean we can’t choose healthier alternatives. Eating a diet high in sugar can have negative consequences on your health, especially over time. Work slowly through this list and try to replace at least a few of your junk food items with these healthy alternatives.
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