Do you like to sweeten your coffee, your tea or the infusion that you prepare every morning? If so, it is essential to discover which is the healthiest and most appropriate option, taking into account its energy and nutrient intake.
An increasing number of people choose to consume tea or infusions, made with plants and herbs with medicinal qualities, used and consumed depending on the condition that one has, or the objective we seek regarding its different properties. For example, it is common to use chamomile infusion as a digestive, while valerian infusion stands out for its interesting relaxing and anxiolytic qualities.
In almost any case, we are also a society in which coffee consumption is equally high. So much so that it is estimated that in our country each person consumes about 4.5 kilos of coffee per year. Although the Nordic countries beat us (where it is consumed the most), so that for example in Finland the incredible figure of 12 kilos of coffee per person per year is reached.
Regarding the consumption of tea and infusions, our country has increased its consumption in recent years, becoming interesting options for those who want to reduce their coffee consumption, or for those who want to enjoy the different qualities that they offer us once we know the virtues that gives us its regular consumption. It is also true that the increase in tea consumption is due to the introduction of Asian culture in our country.
But despite opting for healthy natural beverages, we also tend to sugary our beverages excessively. In other words, instead of enjoying the -different- flavor that each of these drinks gives us, we mask their taste by using copious amounts of sugar.
The result? Undoubtedly, the enormous use of large amounts of sugar is behind the increase in overweight and obesity in our country (coupled, of course, also with other related factors, such as sedentary lifestyle and following a diet, as well as little healthy).
Be that as it may, we are a tremendously sugary society, in which we have been told that the problem with food was its fat and not the sugar it provided us (for the most part converted into simple carbohydrates and empty calories). And let’s take just one example: a single sugary drink gives us the sugar our body needs in a whole day.
In other words, we tend to overindulge in white sugar, not just the one we use to sweeten our food or beverages, but also the one that is already included in the food products we buy.
In fact, some time ago the World Health Organization itself affirmed that taking a large amount of simple sugars a day not only increases the risk of obesity, but also threatens the nutritional quality of our own diet, advising to restrict its consumption to no more 10% of our caloric intake.
Therefore, if we want to enjoy a wonderful cup of coffee, tea or infusion, healthy and adequate as long as there is no type of contraindication and we do not consume it in excessive quantities, what option can we choose to sweeten it? We only talk about the most recommended options.
The healthiest options to sweeten our drink
The most suitable: take it alone, without sweetening.
It is something that we already mentioned to you on a previous occasion, specifically in our article on the benefits of coffee alone: there is nothing better than enjoying our favorite drink without adding sugar. It is the healthiest option, and obviously the most advisable.
Mainly because in this way we do not contribute empty calories to our body, which are part of those foods that do not provide us with any type of nutrient, and only contain calories. In addition, in most cases those calories are usually very high.
What’s more, did you know that consuming excess sugar, even in amounts that we could seemingly consider as small, dangerously increases the risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes, as well as other related diseases? This occurs especially with those known as free sugars added to food or beverages, among which is precisely table sugar (or sucrose).
The worst: white sugar and chemical sweeteners.
If despite the indications we want to continue sweetening our drink, especially if the taste of tea or coffee is somewhat strong, it is best to always avoid white sugar, a type of refined sweetener that is very common in most medium-sized houses. World, and that being such a caloric product -which only provides empty calories- it can cause overweight and obesity, especially when its consumption is regular and / or excessive.
In addition, it tends to cause a deficiency of nutrients, since in addition to being completely empty (that is, it does not provide us with any nutrients), it causes a deficiency of calcium and vitamin B1.
The same goes for chemical sweeteners; that is, saccharin or aspartame, commonly used by diabetics and also by the food industry. Although it is true that they are sweeteners with zero caloric content and a glycemic index of 0, a scientific study published in the specialized journal ‘ Nature ‘ a few years ago associated their consumption with metabolic alterations.
According to this study, both saccharin and other artificial sweeteners are capable of modifying the intestinal flora and facilitating weight gain, which in turn makes it difficult for our body to control blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Stevia (or E-960).
In recent years, the use and consumption of stevia has increased, a sweetener that comes from the extract of Stevia rebaudiana, with a practically insignificant caloric intake and whose sweet flavor is equivalent to about 300 times that of common table sugar.
However, contrary to what is said, stevia is not a natural sweetener. On the contrary, it is made in the laboratory from the extraction – yes – of the stevia glycosides of the aforementioned plant.
In any case, it is obviously a more suitable sweetening option than refined table sugar, so that its consumption is common by people with diabetes, since despite containing glucose it does not raise the glycemic index in the blood. However, the recommendation is clear: you should control your consumption, and never exceed it.
But contrary to what is also said, as commented from Dimethylsulfide, stevia does not cure diabetes (it is simply suitable for diabetics), and neither does it cure cancer (it has only been proven that there is no cause-effect relationship between its consumption and the incidence of this disease).
Panela: a more suitable option (but without excesses).
At this point we find panela, which in recent years has seen its consumption increase as its knowledge and popularity increased. It is a type of sweetener known as more “natural”, because it consists of the juice extracted from sugar cane.
It is very common in Colombia, where it comes from, although it is commonly consumed in practically all of Latin America.
It has a sweetening effect greater than white sugar, and its particularity from a nutritional point of view is that it has its natural flavor and also all its nutrients, as it is obtained naturally and has not been refined. Therefore, as it is purer, it does not have chemical additives, and it does contain nutrients that we find in sugarcane juice, such as vitamins of group B, minerals (magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, zinc, copper, fluorine, selenium and manganese) and amino acids.
Therefore, it is a more suitable sweetener option, although it has slightly fewer calories than white sugar. In fact, 100 grams of panela provide around 350 kcal, while refined sugar reaches 400 kcal. However, the big difference is that it is a sweetener that does not have empty calories. On the contrary, it provides interesting amounts of essential nutrients.
Honey: another natural option but that should be consumed in moderation.
The honey is a natural product from bees, which also has an interesting sweetening power, also joined the different nutrients provided.
It is also another natural option that is more suitable than the rest of sweeteners, since although it’s caloric intake continues to be high, it is lower than that of any other sweetener. In addition, although its contribution in vitamins and minerals is small, it is much more compared to the amount of these substances that we find in the rest of sweeteners.
Cane honey stands out in this regard, which mainly contributes fructose, which is absorbed more slowly and is also suitable for people with diabetes. However, as long as it is consumed in small amounts, as the American Diabetes Association warns, the abuse of fructose increases cholesterol and triglyceride levels.