ALTERNATIVES TO REFINED SUGAR
Happiness is in air since Diwali is approaching. Sweets are integral part of Diwali celebration. It is hard to imagine celebrating Diwali without thinking about giving sweets. From your neighbour to best friend, it is the must have gift that you buy to celebrate the occasion. Why are Indian sweets mandatory to have for celebration ? In olden days it was said that all ingredients in mithais, that is, sugar, milk and ghee are considered to be “sattvic” which means pure and can be eaten by everyone, even spiritual leaders and vegetarians. Since they are pure ingredients, mithai is offered to the gods and distributed to the devotees in temples. Mithai is also used to break fasts or eaten during a fast bering in mind that the term mithai has no religious significance. This old tradition has been kept alive for centuries and mithai will always be served at times of celebrations. But at the same time we also need to understand that in olden days the mithais were not made out of refined sugar. Today refined sugar is used in preparations of desserts which is the root cause of 60-65% health ailments. We get so much addicted to sugar that it becomes extremely difficult to stop eating sweets. Apart from gaining weight consumption of large amount of sugar can also lead to wrinkles on skin, acne on skin & digestive disorders as it is acidic in nature. It can increase the chances of Type II diabetes and tooth decay.
This article will help you to understand the alternatives that can replace refined sugar and will supply nutrition to your body as well.
1. DESIKHAND/KHADI SAAKHAR/MISHRI
This is available in rock form. Do not buy crystal sugars as they are not natural sweetners. Mishri works as cooling agent in our body and hence it is used to prepare ayurvedic medicines. So instead of refined sugar we can use mishri to make sweets and even use for making hot and cold beverages as they are nutritious which supplies calcium, magnesium, iron and dietary fibre. This is easily available in local markets.
2. DATE SUGAR
You can either make date sugar at home or can buy from market. It you want to make it at home then remove seeds from dry dates and cut it into pieces. Roast these pieces in a pan on low flame and churn it in mixer to make powder. This can be stored in an air tight container for 2-3 months. You cannot use this for beverages as date sugar has different flavour and it won’t get dissolved in hot or cold beverages. You can use date sugar to make any dessert right from kheer and halwa to cakes and cookies. It is the healthiest option as it is loaded with vitamins, minerals and fibres. Regular intake of date sugar can reduce cholesterol and helps to strengthen bones. For people who cannot digest food easily and who feel very tired easily date sugar is very helpful.
3. COCONUT SUGAR
Coconut sugar is unrefined and free of chemicals. This property makes it healthier and a great alternative to refined sugar. Though the calorie content of coconut sugar is similar to refined sugar but the advantage over refined sugar is it can be easily digested. It is very light and contains mainly iron, potassium, zinc, calcium. It is easily available either online or in departmental store.
Jaggery contains more nutrients as compared to mishri, coconut sugar or date sugar as this is available in the most unrefined and raw form. Sugar is acidic in nature whereas jaggery is alkaline in nature. If you follow more alkaline diet then you remain healthy and free from diseases. Jaggery even helps to cleanse the liver.
5. RAW HONEY
This is a natural sweetner which is also beneficial for health. It is important to pick raw honey as there are adulterated honey available in the market. Try to buy honey where in the packet it is mentioned either “unrefined” or “unprocessed” or “raw honey”. It is excellent to get rid of any skin problem and also helps in weight management.