Naschen erlaubt: Zuckeralternativen im Vergleich.

Sugar alternatives in comparison

Household sugar and sugar alternatives in comparison Prof. Dr. Damgar Braun in conversation
Prof. Braun, sugar consumption certainly increases enormously, especially in the run-up to Christmas. The WHO, on the other hand, recommends consuming a maximum of 50g of sugar per day, which is around 12 teaspoons. Can you support this statement?
In my opinion, 12 teaspoons of sugar is even too much, but unfortunately it's reached quickly. A large part of the free sugar is found in sugary foods, such as sweets, cereals or sweet spreads, in sugary soft drinks such as lemonades or fruit juices or in ready meals. The recommended daily amount of 50 g corresponds to approximately 100 g of gummy bears, 90 g of milk chocolate or 450 ml of cola. A rich, sweet breakfast can lead to the daily dose being exceeded. But if you do without these things, simply reduce them or replace table sugar, you are well below the recommended 50 g. A healthy breakfast consisting of wholemeal bread with sausage or cheese, cucumber, an egg and a cup of tea gives me a much better start to the day and keeps me fuller for longer. During the day I drink a lot of water and in the evening I cook with lots of fresh vegetables.

Both the media and science warn about the health risks of table sugar. It is said to be harmful to health, increases the risk of cancer, etc. What exactly is so harmful about table sugar?
According to data from the study on adult health in Germany (DEGS 1), 29 percent of women and 43.8 percent of men are overweight, and another 23.9 and 23.3 percent are obese. According to the Robert Koch Institute's Child and Adolescent Health Survey (KIGGS), 15.4 percent of three to 17-year-olds are overweight, and a further 5.9 percent suffer from obesity. These are just two diseases that can be traced back to excessive sugar consumption in Germany. Table sugar is a so-called disaccharide, consisting of glucose and fructose. Fructose is metabolized by the liver. When you consume excess sugar, your liver converts fructose into fat. This is stored in the liver or other organs and there is a risk of organ fatty degeneration. The glucose, on the other hand, goes into the blood and is used with the help of the hormone insulin. If our sugar and insulin balance gets out of control, obesity can occur. Overweight and obesity are associated with a number of concomitant and secondary diseases, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, lipid metabolism disorders, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and degenerative joint diseases. However, in addition to sugar consumption, other factors such as diet and exercise habits also play a role. I would say here: the dose makes the poison. A little snacking is of course allowed, but in view of the possible consequences, excessive consumption should be avoided.

There are now many alternatives to refined sugar. What distinguishes sugar alternatives from conventional household sugar? What are the advantages and which alternative would you recommend?
In fact, the range is now diverse: coconut blossom sugar, agave sugar, rice sugar, honey, xylitol, erythritol and stevia are just a few of them. Each sugar has its own sweetening power, differs in taste and can be used in a variety of ways. Chemically speaking, conventional refined table sugar is a disaccharide, sucrose, which is obtained from sugar beets and sugar cane. Xylitol and erythritol are so-called sugar alcohols. They are excellent for diabetics due to their low glycemic index. Personally, I can highly recommend coconut blossom sugar because it has a strong caramel-like note. I use it to sweeten tea or for baking. If you have lactose intolerance, I would recommend rice sugar. This is naturally free of gluten and lactose.

Are sugar alternatives as harmful as refined sugar? What do you have to pay attention to when buying?
I wouldn't say that. Now I already mentioned that the quantity is crucial. The sugar alcohols, for example, only have half as many calories as table sugar. They only slightly increase blood sugar levels and inhibit the growth of tooth decay bacteria. However, they are unsuitable for people with fructose intolerance and they can have a laxative effect if consumed in excess. Rice sugar is the low-allergenic variant of conventional household sugar. The rice sugar is naturally gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan and contains no fructose. Agave sugar, on the other hand, consists largely of fructose and glucose, with the proportion of fructose clearly predominating. Since the glycemic index of fructose is extremely low, drinking agave sugar has little effect on blood sugar levels. However, it is rather unsuitable for people who are fructose intolerant. Because of its higher sweetening power compared to conventional household sugar, it can be dosed in lower doses and thus sugar consumption can be minimized. When buying, I would always pay attention to what purpose I want to use the sugar for. Whether as a flavor component or to avoid intolerances or to limit sugar consumption. Every sugar alternative offers a corresponding solution.

Table sugar provides a lot of energy (calories), but few important nutrients. Do sugar alternatives also contain so-called “empty” calories?
That's right. Table sugar, consisting of glucose and fructose, contains no minerals or nutrients. However, some sugar alternatives do. Agave sugar, for example, has a higher content of minerals, trace elements and secondary plant substances. The trace elements found in agave sugar are zinc, iron, manganese, copper and selenium. Beta-carotene, a secondary plant substance, is also contained in large quantities in agave sugar. Coconut blossom sugar also contains many minerals, vitamins and amino acids. The content of potassium, phosphorus and zinc is particularly worth mentioning here. In addition, coconut blossom sugar contains the vitamins of group B and vitamin C, which are essential for humans, as well as sixteen valuable amino acids, such as glutamine. The sugar alcohols xylitol and erythritol, on the other hand, contain no other nutrients.

The body gets used to the sweet taste and develops a real addiction. For this reason, you need ever larger amounts of sugar to taste sweet at all. What is the best sugar alternative to satisfy your sugar addiction? Can a more “natural” sugar alternative also lead to sugar addiction?
If you are actually addicted to sugar and want to fight your addiction in the long term, you should also avoid sugar alternatives. Because these also convey a sweet feeling and this only circumvents the problem. Of course, sugar alternatives are still better than sugar. Therefore, in an emergency, you should resort to sugar alternatives that cause blood sugar to rise more slowly. In this way, the sweet cravings can slowly diminish.
Are sugar alternatives generally suitable for baking? Can you replace refined sugar 1:1 with sugar alternatives in a recipe? Do you perhaps even need less sweetener than table sugar?
Of course, the sugar alternatives are also suitable for baking. They sometimes even give the pastries a characteristic taste. Depending on the sugar alternative used, household sugar can be replaced 1:1, such as coconut blossom sugar. If the sweetness is higher, you can use less quantity. Agave sugar is suitable for sweetening baked goods.

Compared to many other providers, Lotao GmbH offers powdered sugar alternatives made from, for example, agave or rice. In addition to the easier dosage, are there any other advantages over sugar syrups and thick juices?
Of course, durability is a crucial point. Dry products can be stored longer. In addition, the powders differ structurally from the liquid sugar alternatives and therefore offer the possibility of being used according to the recipe and dosage instructions. From my experience, a liquid sweetener has a different effect in a cake batter than a powdered sweetener. In some baked goods, something is simply missing to create enough “body” – for example in the case of a sponge cake. In addition, when using liquid sugar alternatives, you always have to try something until the desired sweetness and consistency is achieved. This is not the case when using crystalline powders.

Coconut blossom sugar is currently THE trendy sweetener among nutrition-conscious foodies and a popular alternative for clean eating and clean baking. Can coconut blossom sugar be classified as a recommended sweetener? What makes sugar so special and popular?
As I mentioned before, I can also highly recommend coconut blossom sugar. This doesn't taste like coconut, but has a fine, spicy caramel aroma. It is ideal for sweetening coffee or tea, but also for cooking and baking cookies and cakes. Coconut blossom sugar also gives chocolates a particularly delicate melt. The sugar can also be used to season fine sauces, marinades or soups. When frying fish or meat, the coconut blossom sugar naturally enhances the flavor of the dish and rounds off every meal aromatically.

Sugar alternatives for small children - honey, for example, is a natural product and is only recommended from the age of 1 as it can contain bacteria. This is rare, but in the worst case scenario it can affect the baby's intestines. Which sugar alternatives are best for small children?
Now that we know that children in particular consume too much sugar and that the foods and drinks marketed for infants and toddlers also contain too much sugar, I advocate limiting sugar consumption in young children. If families cook fresh food and do not use ready-made complementary foods, conventional household sugar can be replaced with the sugar alternatives mentioned. Coconut blossom sugar, agave sugar and rice sugar are good for small children. Agave sugar , with its higher sweetening power, is particularly advantageous because it requires less use compared to household sugar. This significantly reduces sugar consumption in small children. However, care should be taken to ensure that sugar alcohols are only used in small doses for small children, as they can have a laxative effect if consumed in excess.

Which sugar alternative is best for people with various food intolerances, for example?
Rice sugar would be a good alternative here. The rice sweetener is naturally free of gluten, fructose and milk sugar (lactose), which makes it particularly well tolerated. The finely crystalline white powder has a slight butter and honey note and is therefore particularly good in butter and walnut or hazelnut pastries. It will be an indispensable part of my kitchen for the coming Christmas season.

Dear Prof. Braun, thank you very much for the interview!
*** About Prof. Dr. Dagmar Braun Prof. Dr. Dagmar Braun is managing director of the Braun Group, one of the large medium-sized companies in Western Pomerania, which includes the Lotao brand, among others. The qualified medical doctor has been teaching health economics at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences since 2014.

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