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    Food For Thought: Sugar Vs Sugar-Free

    Consumption of sugar has always been associated with an increased risk of developing diseases like diabetes or obesity. Artificial sweeteners have been promoted as a possible substitute for sugars, especially in the case of diabetics. But artificial sweeteners contain harmful chemicals. Foods containing natural sugars like fruits, coconut, honey or jaggery could be a better option in such cases. 

    Nutritional Values

    Granulated Sugar (100g)Nutritional ContentStevia (Artificial sweetener)Nutritional Content
    Energy387 kcalsEnergy250 kcals
    Carbohydrates100 gmCarbohydrates100 gm
    Protein0 gmProtein0 gm
    Fat0 gmFat0 gm

    What Is The Difference Between Sugar And Sugar-Free?

    A food product can be considered sugar-free if it contains less than 0.5 gms of sugar per serving. Foods that claim to be sugar-free might contain natural sugars like fruit sugars, artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols present.

    Are Sugar-Free Foods Better? 

    Foods containing artificial sweeteners would provide lower calories as a small amount of this sweetener can be extremely sweet. This can encourage individuals to consume smaller servings of artificial sweeteners. Excess consumption of food containing artificial sweeteners has the potential to alter taste mechanisms in individuals. Individuals used to consuming highly sweet foods would not prefer consuming foods with natural and healthy sugars like fruits. On the other hand, artificial sweeteners could be better to use for diabetic individuals and individuals struggling to lose weight.

    Are Natural Sugars Better To Use Than Artificial Sugars?

    There are different types of sugar present. Apart from table sugar, fruit sugar, honey, coconut and honey come under natural sugar. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is also a natural sugar, though the consumption of foods containing HFCS has to be avoided over other sugars. Excess consumption of both table sugar and HFCS has been associated with an increased risk of developing high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity. Avoidance of both table sugar and HFCS is important and more preference should be given to consuming foods containing natural sugars like fruits, coconut, honey or jaggery.

    Nutritional Recipes

    Now that you know the difference between sugar-free foods and foods containing sugars, let us look into some delicious recipes using natural fruit sugars.

    1. Gajar Ka Halwa

    This tasty recipe can be prepared swiftly without using condensed sugar or sugar itself!

    Cooking time: 20-25 mins

    Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

    Energy: 55 kcals

    Carbohydrates: 8.5 gms

    Protein: 2 gms

    Fat: 5 gms

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup of carrot (grated)
    • ½ cup of milk
    • ¼ cup of dates (chopped)
    • 1 tsp of cardamom powder (elaichi)
    • Ghee to taste

    Method:

    1. In a cooker, heat ghee. Add the carrots to the ghee and saute for a few minutes.
    2. Add milk, elaichi and dates. Mix well. Close the lid of the cooker and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Check whether the milk added to the halwa has evaporated properly. If not, saute for a few minutes.
    3. Remove the lid of the pressure cooker after the heat escapes. Serve hot.

    2. Coconut And Peanuts Ladoo

    These tasty ladoos can be prepared during any festive season and it is easy to prepare as well.

    Cooking time: 20-25 mins

    Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

    Energy: 65 kcals

    Carbohydrates: 1.5 gms

    Protein: 3 gms

    Fat: 8 gms

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup shredded coconut
    • ¼ cup peanuts
    • ¼ cup sesame seeds (roasted)
    • ½ tsp cardamom powder (elaichi)
    • Melted jaggery to taste
    • Ghee to taste

    Method:

    1. In a pan, heat jaggery and keep stirring. After the jaggery melts, add the peanuts, elaichi, sesame seeds, and grated coconut to the jaggery.  Mix well. 
    2. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.
    3. Once the mixture cools, grease your palms with ghee.
    4. Shape the mixture in the form of balls.
    5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to obtain more ladoos. Store in a tight container or serve.

    3. Sabudana and Coconut Kheer

    This delicious recipe is easy to cook and can be a treat for diabetics!

    Cooking time: 20-25 mins

    Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

    Energy: 95 kcals

    Carbohydrates: 15 gms

    Protein: 6 gms

    Fat: 3 gms

    Ingredients:

    • ½ cup tender coconut (chopped)
    • ½ cup soaked sago
    • ½ cup milk
    • 1 tsp cardamom powder (elaichi)
    • ¼ cup almonds
    • ¼ cup seedless dates (pureed)

    Method:

    1. Add a cup of water and cook the soaked sago for a few minutes.
    2. Add the milk and cook for a few minutes.
    3. Add the cardamom powder along with tender coconut and almonds. Cook for a few minutes till the kheer starts showing a thicker consistency.
    4. Transfer into a bowl. You can garnish the kheer with more nuts if required.

    4. Strawberry Mousse

    This tasty dessert can be prepared from the comforts of your home and it can turn out to be extremely delicious as well!

    Cooking time: 25-30 mins

    Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

    Energy: 185 kcals

    Carbohydrates: 6 gms

    Protein: 1.5 gms

    Fat: 18 gms

    Ingredients:

    • ½ cup strawberry gelatin (without sugar)
    • ¼ cup hot water
    • 1 cup strawberries
    • ½ cup whipped cream
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    Method:

    1. In a bowl, mix gelatin with hot water. Keep it aside.
    2. In a mixer, blend the strawberries well. Using a strainer, remove the seeds.
    3. Now add the cream and strawberry mixture back to the blender and blend again.
    4. Using a whisk, beat the cream and strawberry mixture, till the mixture begins to rise.
    5. Transfer the mousse into cups and refrigerate it for two to three hours. Serve chilled.

    5. Mango, Almonds And Chia Seeds Smoothie

    This tasty smoothie can be prepared quickly and is a healthy drink that can be served to your children or guests as well!

    Cooking time: 20-25 mins

    Nutritional values (1 serving approx)

    Energy: 285 kcals

    Carbohydrates: 13 gms

    Protein: 6 gms

    Fat: 10 gms

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup mango cubes
    • ¼ cup yoghurt
    • ¼ cup milk
    • 1 tbsp chia seeds
    • 1 tbsp chopped almonds

    Method:

    1. In a mixer, blend mangoes, milk and yoghurt till a smoother consistency is obtained.
    2. Transfer the smoothie onto a glass.
    3. Top the smoothie with chia seeds and almonds.

    Key Takeaways

    1. Consume both artificial or natural sugars in moderation.
    2. Always check nutrition labels before buying a product. Many products claim to be sugar-free but might contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners.
    3. Reduce consumption of sugary beverages or foods as these products are always high in sugar.
    4. Simple sugar can be substituted with natural fruit sugars.
    5. Try and opt for fruits over fruit juices as fruits contain fibre.
    6. Diabetic individuals can consume fruits containing low to moderate glycemic indexes like apples, cherries, oranges or strawberries.
    7. Avoid consuming canned or preserved fruits with added sugars or preservatives.

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