Halal Consumer - Issue 45

do recommend alternative sugars to patients in moderation in place of refined sugars and monitor their diets very carefully.” To practice what she preaches, Dr. Yaqub maintains a low carbohydrate and low sugar regimen herself along with regular exercise. “A significant part of improving and extending your quality of life is by taking preventative measures,” advises Dr. Yaqub. “The best cure is to avoid the disease and that which can cause it. Our food is making us sick, and sugar is a big component of that. Finding alternatives is a great step towards preventative medicine.” Types of Alternative Sugar Pros Cons Coconut Sugar extracted from coconut palm sap • Contains antioxidants • Contains nutrients like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium • Has a lower glycemic index • Contains a fiber called inulin • High in calories • High in fructose Honey thick, golden syrup produced by bees • Contains large amounts of vitamins and minerals • Contains antioxidants • May reduce cholesterol • Metabolizes easily • May increase inflammation • May increase HbA1c blood sugar levels • High in fructose Maple syrup thick liquid made by cooking down sap of maple tree • Contains minerals like calcium, potassium, manganese, iron and zinc • Contains antioxidants • Lower glycemic index • High in sugar • Will raise blood sugar levels (but slightly slower than regular sugar) Yacon syrup extracted from the yacon plant • Contain less calories than sugar • Can decrease hunger hormone ghrelin • Improves healthy gut bacteria • May help with weight loss • Excessive amounts may lead to gas, diarrhea, or general digestive discomfort • Not for cooking or baking Stevia natural leaf extract • Has zero calories • No known links to weight gain • May lower high blood pressure • May lower high blood sugars and insulin levels • Varies in taste • May taste bitter Xylitol sugar alcohol extracted from corn or birch • Contains 40% fewer calories than sugar • Does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels • May improve dental health • Increases body’s absorption of calcium • Can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea • May taste bitter Erythritol sugar alcohol found in fruits • Contains 6% of the calories of sugar • Tastes closest to sugar • Absorbed directly into bloodstream • Does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels • May taste bitter • May cause digestive issues Date sugar dehydrated dried dates • Contains no additives • High potassium and antioxidant content • High fructose content • Clumpy texture Brown rice syrup extracted from cooked brown rice • Contains no fructose • Contains no nutrients • Could possibly contain arsenic Molasses boiled down sugar cane or sugar beet juice • Contains few vitamins and minerals like potassium and calcium • Contains antioxidants • High in sugar So using alternative sugars may not be the cure or the answer, but it is definitely a step forward in the right direction. By training our taste buds to lessen our liking of excessive refined sugars, we can feel better and do better with our health as well. TAYYABA SYED is an award-winning children’s author and freelance journalist. She travels extensively to share her love for reading and writing. Her work has been featured in NPR, and she has written for more than 20 book titles including Encyclopedia Britannica. She lives with her husband and three children in Illinois. 12 WWW.IFANCA.ORG