Love a little dose of sugar at the end of each meal? Can't think of sipping your morning cuppa without a sprinkling of sugar to relish it more? As much as we love the sweet crystals that help in lifting our mood and chasing the blues away, too much of sugar can make us put on those extra calories and nudge us towards severe lifestyle ailments. As such, it is important to select wisely, making healthier choices when it comes to sweeteners and sugars. Sugar gets its bad reputation for being a highly processed food product, but there are healthier versions that you can get your hands on to keep a check on what you are consuming.
Hard to believe? Well, there are different kinds of sugars you can pick up, which are more pure and healthy than the regular refined white sugar. However, a point to remember: any form of sugar should be consumed in limited quantities.
1. Raw and Unrefined Sugar
Sugar is touted as a 'bad' ingredient because it is nothing but empty calories. This is due to the fact that during processing, all the natural nutrients are stripped off, and further chemicals are used to remove impurities. Raw and unrefined sugar, on the other hand, still retains natural nutrients such as iron, magnesium, etc. and is therefore a better choice. This natural granulated sugar is golden in colour, tastes almost like honey and is free of any kind of chemicals or pesticides.
2. Organic Sulphurless White Sugar
Sulphur in sugar? Yes, most sugar processing units use sulphur to remove impurities from sugar crystals. As a result, some quantities of sulphur are retained in the sugar crystals, which when consumed over a period of time, could lead to health hazards (sulphur when converted to sulphur dioxide in the body is harmful). That's where sulphurless sugar steps in. Sulphurless sugar retains the sweetness of sugar but does away with the side-effects of sulphur.
3. Demerara Sugar
Demerara sugar is a kind of natural brown sugar which is light brown in colour, large-grained, chunky and raw, containing residual molasses. It is partially processed - made from the first crystallization of cane juice to sugar crystals. It has a natural caramel-like flavour which lends depth to the dishes it is used in. Demerara Sugar also comes infused with the flavour of vanilla from premium vanilla beans, cinnamon and other spices. You can use it in chocolate brownies, cinnamon rolls or coffee cake, or sprinkle it into your fruit bowl, coffee or hot chocolate.
4. Organic Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is definitely a healthier option than refined white sugar. It is processed in a completely natural way to maintain as much of the sugarcane's natural nutrition as possible, including vitamins and minerals. It has a caramel flavour and you can use this brown sugar to sweeten various hot beverages, or flavour desserts like candies, cakes and other bakery items.
5. Palm Sugar Crystals
Coconut or palm sugar is a sweetener that is extracted from the sap present in the flower buds of the coconut palm tree. It is known as a natural sugar because it involves minimum processing and no chemicals are used. The sugar has a mild caramel flavour, and is used extensively in making desserts, especially Bengali sweets. It can be used in a number of ways in regular cooking. You can use as is or grind it to stir into your cup of tea.