White or refined sugar is, without a doubt, the most widely used sweetener worldwide, both for adding it to different beverages and for use in confectionery preparations. Common sugar is composed almost exclusively of simple carbohydrates (sucrose), therefore, its caloric intake is high, about 398 Kcal/100 grams. Likewise, we must make it clear that sugar in moderate amounts is a healthy ingredient for the majority of the population, but when you want to limit your calorie intake or when there is a disease that advises against taking it, there are other options to sweeten foods and drinks.
For years, stevia has become one of the most popular sweeteners with a notable progressive increase in its consumption. It is a healthier sweetener of natural origin since it is extracted from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant. Its ability to sweeten food and drinks is much higher than that of sugar (200 times more) and its caloric intake is practically zero, therefore, it is especially recommended for people suffering from obesity. In addition, stevia is a sugar substitute for diabetics because it does not contribute to increased blood glucose. It is one of the healthiest sweeteners.
Honey is an absolutely natural sweetener made by bees from the nectar they collect from flowers and plants. It can perfectly replace sugar, since it not only sweetens but also provides healthy nutrients to the body, especially minerals, such as calcium, sodium, magnesium, or phosphorus.
Likewise, honey mainly contains two types of sugars: fructose and glucose, something that makes it a non-recommended food, in principle, if you have diabetes. We must also remember that its caloric intake, although lower than that of sugar, is also high (314kcal / 100 grams).
Saccharin is probably the best-known artificial or synthetic sweetener , ideal to include in the diet when you want to lose or maintain weight since it practically does not provide calories. In the form of small pills or liquid, it is a powerful sweetener, synthesized for the first time in the 19th century. In principle, it is suitable for people with diabetes but, like the rest of the sugar substitutes, in case of suffering from any variant of this disease, medical consultation is always necessary when taking any of them.
It is a favorite natural substance to sweeten cakes, pancakes, or waffles, especially in countries like the United States and Canada, although it is becoming more and more known throughout the world.
It is a sweetener that effectively sweetens due to its xylitol content, a substance also present in numerous plants (birch syrup), fruits, and vegetables. Maple syrup provides half the calories of white sugar to the diet and is perfect for sweetening infusions, dairy products such as yogurt or curds, and fruit, and also for including it as an ingredient in sauces and dressings. In addition, it is a food rich in antioxidants that, it is estimated, also has beneficial antimicrobial properties for health, especially with regard to oral care and hygiene.
With a texture similar to honey, molasses can also function as a sugar substitute. It is obtained from cereals, mainly rice, although there is also molasses from cane sugar. Molasses or rice syrup is an option that is somewhat lower in calories than white sugar, it can be substituted in any preparation but, like honey, it is not recommended if you have diabetes.
Panela is actually a type of natural sugar that comes from the cane but is not refined. Therefore, it is a natural sweetener substitute for white sugar, widely used in Latin America. It is an energetic food, but with fewer calories than white sugar. This is different because, as it is not processed, it keeps most of its good nutrients intact, above all, vitamins from group B and also C, A, and E, which give it interesting antioxidant properties.
Sucralose is a powerful artificial sweetener with 600 times the sweetening power of sugar. Better known by the name of some brands that market it (Splenda), sucralose is present in products such as soft drinks, gum, or frozen sweet desserts and can also be used to sweeten foods and beverages that reach the table. It is a sweetener that does not provide any nutrients, only an intense sweetness with zero or very few calories.
If you suffer from any type of disease, it is always advisable to consult your doctor about the suitability of taking sugar substitute sweeteners. In addition, in any case, they should be taken in moderate amounts and within a balanced diet.