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Too much sugar harms us, but we love sweetness. Alternatives like Xucker. Stevia have fewer calories. Do they taste good and are they healthier, how sustainable is their production??
Status: 18.02.2022 | Archive
We eat far too much sugar. And with it a whole lot of empty calories: on average, we consume 35 kilograms of sugar per year. Much of the sugar we eat isn't even in sweets like chocolate or gummy bears, but in sweetened beverages, baked goods, dairy products and salty foods like pre-made pizzas or barbecue sauces. How much sugar with which designation may be in foods is stated in "Sugar-free": this is what the designations mean.
It's worth thinking about sweet alternatives – to save calories in the long run, to avoid cravings, or to save your teeth. Our sugar bowl at home can now also be filled with good sugar substitutes. And most of them are also suitable for baking or cooking.
Stevia is obtained from the leaves of the South American perennial plant Stevia rebaudiana – in a complex chemical process. These contain the sweet-tasting stevioglycosides. Stevia has been approved as a sweetener in the EU since November 2011 and is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. Daily consumption should not exceed 10 milligrams per kilo of body weight. There are now some products in the supermarket that are sweetened with stevia – such as yogurts or lemonades.
Sweetening coffee with stevia – saves calories and is gentle on teeth. You have to get used to the taste, though. Stevia is not metabolized by the human body. Does not raise blood sugar levels. Is therefore suitable for diabetics. Stevia has no calories and is not harmful to teeth because it does not feed tooth decay bacteria as conventional granulated sugar does.
Disadvantages: Stevia can taste slightly bitter to licorice. Takes some getting used to. In addition, the stevioglycosides are extracted from the stevia plants in a complex chemical process that also uses environmentally harmful aluminum salts. 95 percent of all stevia glycosides are produced in China. Stevia sweeteners can not be called a natural product and organic stevia does not exist with it either.
In the household: Stevia sweetener comes in liquid, powder and tab form. Stevia can also be used in baking, it can withstand temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius. Precise dosage is important to avoid a bitter taste. Sugar-stevia conversion tables and special recipes for this purpose can be found on the Internet.
Xylitol, xylitol or birch sugar (trade names Xucker, Birkengold u.a.)
Xylitol or birch sugar: Looks like sugar, can be used like sugar.
Xylitol or birch sugar is obtained from beech wood or from the remains of corn cobs. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. Was already discovered in 1890. In nature, xylitol is found in plums and strawberries, for example, as well as in the bark of beech and birch trees. It is produced by fermentation.
Advantages: Xylitol has almost the same sweetening power as normal household sugar (sucrose) and only about half the calories. Xylitol increases blood sugar levels only slightly and inhibits the growth of caries bacteria, as Finnish studies have shown.
Almost as sweet as sugar: xylitol. Tastes a bit cool in cakes.
Disadvantages: People with fructose intolerance should not use xylitol, because it can cause the same symptoms as fructose. And in larger quantities, xylitol can have a laxative effect. At a body weight of 60 kilograms, 30 grams of xylitol a day could produce this effect. Sometimes stomach rumbling occurs at first, the body must first get used to xylitol.
Some animal species such as dogs, cattle, goats and rabbits can die from xylitol because it causes them to have a strong insulin release, which can lead to life-threatening hypoglycemia. This does not apply to cats. More on the topic of what dogs should not eat can be found in the link. Xylitol comes as a fine-grained powder – it looks like sugar. Can also be used 1:1 so. It is therefore well suited for calorie-saving baking and cooking. Xylitol is more heat-stable than normal household sugar – cake. So cookies do not burn so easily.
Coconut blossom sugar
For coconut blossom sugar, coconut blossoms are cut on the palm, the escaping juice is collected and boiled down to syrup. It tastes caramel-like, but not like coconut. Coconut blossom sugar is said to contain many minerals such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.
The blossom of the palm tree is cut, the emerging nectar is collected and boiled to syrup.
Advantages: Coconut blossom sugar has a low glycemic index, which means that it does not raise blood sugar levels as quickly as household sugar. Studies about its effect on health do not exist yet.
Disadvantages: It is very expensive because it is produced by hand. The price per kilo is between 20 and 40 euros. And it has come a long way from Asia before it can be bought here, so it is not very sustainable. Some coconut blossom sugars are therefore "stretched" with cheaper cane sugar, this was found by the magazine "okotest out in April. Coconut blossom sugar has only slightly fewer calories than household sugar.
In the household: Coconut blossom sugar is light brown and crumbly; you can use it for baking, but it's too expensive for that. With its caramel flavor it is great for sweetening desserts. Erythritol comes naturally in cheese. Found in various types of fruit. Dextrose (glucose) is fermented to erythritol by a yeast culture. The substance is crystallized afterwards. Erythritol looks like normal household sugar. And has about 75 percent of its sweetening power.
Pros: Erythritol is well tolerated, 90 percent of it is absorbed through the stomach and duodenum and excreted through the kidneys, i.e. it is not metabolized. Erythritol does not affect the blood sugar level, is therefore suitable for diabetics and almost calorie-free. And it doesn't provide food for caries bacteria. Erythritol is deadly to fruit flies.
Disadvantages: It costs ten times as much as table sugar because the manufacturing process is quite complex.
In the household: Erythritol tastes fruity, a bit like dextrose. It is now also available in some drugstores or online. Erythritol is very suitable for baking. If you want to bake with erythritol, you have to convert – 130 grams of erythritol replace 100 grams of sugar. In shortcrust doughs and sponge doughs with a lot of fat, erythritol may form crystals.