At Prinos Farm&Deli, our primary goal is to provide our customers with an unrivalled range of premium supermarket produce, as well as the best selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. But we also have another goal – and that is to help improve food literacy in our community. In essence, we want to empower you to have a healthy lifestyle – starting with a well-balanced diet. And seeing as it is now 2022, we all have a wealth of information at our fingertips regarding what we should and shouldn’t eat in order to stay healthy. But of all that information, one thing we definitely know is that refined sugar is something we should be trying to reduce if we want to improve our diet.
Sugar is already naturally present in many of the foods that we eat. Fruit, grains, dairy and even some vegetables, nuts and seeds for example, all contain naturally occurring sugars. In order to make the refined sugar that is so bad for us, the natural sugar is extracted and highly-processed. Today, there is refined sugar in so much of the food that we eat or can buy. And we’re not just talking about the sweets, biscuits and chocolate.
We won’t go into the detrimental effects of refined sugar in detail here. But it is common knowledge that it is linked to a number of serious health conditions. These include diabetes, heart and liver disease, certain cancers, dementia, obesity and premature aging, as well as depression. However, there are many refined sugar alternatives that can be used instead of the unhealthy stuff. These healthy sugar alternatives can be used in all kinds of food preparation. So whether you like baking cakes and deserts, or you just like a bit of sweetener in your morning coffee, there are healthier options out there.
And to help you figure out what is a better alternative to sugar for you and your family, Prinos Farm&Deli have explored some healthier options that still give that sweet taste, without as much of the bad stuff! Read on to learn more about our favourite healthy substitutes for sugar, that can replace refined sugar in any recipe.
- Honey: One of the most popular and commonly used sugar alternatives is honey. However, its important to note that not all honey has the same nutritional benefits. The best honey for your health is the raw, locally produced, unprocessed and unpasteurised type. Any other type of honey is really the same as refined sugar and doesn’t have any health benefits at all. The right types of honey contain more Vitamins and nutrients than refined sugar, including niacin, thiamine, polyphenols and vitamin B6. These nutrients have antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is important to remember that while honey is easier to digest and has a lower glycaemic index (GI) than table sugar, it does still break down to glucose and fructose, and so should be consumed in moderation.
- Dates: While they may not stir into food as easily as the syrups or powdered sweeteners, dates are an excellent option when it comes to a healthier alternative to table sugar. Packed full of goodness, dates are a great source of fibre, as well as minerals and Vitamins such as B-Vitamins, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, niacin, and vitamin A. Moreover, this tasty little dried fruit is also easily digested, meaning that all those nutrients get easily absorbed into the body. You can also easily make a paste out of your dates at home, by blending dates with some warm water according to your desired consistency. Sweeter than most refined sugar, dates can also be quite high in calories. For this reason, it is recommended that those looking to lose weight should consume them in moderation.
- Carob Syrup: This one is especially easy to come by in Cyprus as the carob tree is an endemic plant to the island. In fact, most people in Cyprus already know all about the multiple health benefits, as well as the many diverse uses of carob. Made from the pods of the carob tree, carob syrup is naturally sweet, with a uniquely rich taste. These qualities also make it a great healthy substitute for sugar. Perfect for those looking for a low-calorie option, carob contains almost no fat and is also very low in sodium. So, it’s also a good option for those with high blood pressure. Moreover, carob is packed full of additional nutritional benefits. For example, carob is a good source of calcium which is important for healthy bones. It also contains fibre and is packed with powerful antioxidants.
- Maple Syrup: Similar to honey, maple syrup contains more minerals and nutrients than refined sugar. These include calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese. Moreover, maple syrup is a good source of phenolic compounds such as lignans and coumarins, which in turn have some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Made from the sweet and sticky sap of the maple tree, this syrup is mostly produced in Canada, but has become famous worldwide for its sugary flavour. However, while the GI is lower than normal refined sugar, maple syrup is high in calories and contains high levels of unrefined sugar. And thus, it should be used in moderation.
- Stevia: Sometimes you just want something that looks and feels like sugar. Enter stevia, a low-calorie, plant-based alternative to refined sugar that has become very popular in recent years. Made from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant, stevia is naturally extremely sweet which means you don’t need much to get the desired effect. However, it comes without any of the calories or negative health effects of refined sugar. In fact, stevia is thought to be beneficial for the health. These benefits include lowering high blood pressure and helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Stevia’s growing popularity means that today it is commonly found in many supermarket products – from chocolate to biscuits and spreads – as an alternative to sugar. In fact, Prinos Farm&Deli offer a wide range of tasty sugar-free products that are sweetened with stevia for a healthier alternative.
Additional options for those looking to reduce their refined sugar intake include:
Agave nectar, which is made up of concentrated fructose and delivers the same amount of sugar as eating a piece of fruit. It is also much sweeter than refined sugar, but with a lower glycaemic index, which makes it a healthier option.
Molasses, which is a by-product of cane sugar production and is packed full of nutrients including calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin B6. This superfood has a uniquely rich taste, and the darker the syrup the healthier it is for you.
Apple sauce, which is made from pureed apples and so the sweetness is natural rather than processed. It is also lower in calories than sugar, however, does not contain the same nutritional benefits of raw apples as these are boiled away in the production process.
So, by now we all know what refined sugar is and why it’s bad for us. But now you also have the low-down on some of the best healthy alternatives. Which means that it should be easier for you to avoid refined sugar where possible, or at least reduce it in your diet. And at Prinos Farm&Deli, we aim to provide a premium selection of healthy options for you to use in the kitchen. So, head down to our stores in Nicosia or Larnaca, or visit our online e-shop today to stock up on those refined sugar-free alternatives.