That children have a preference for sweets is quite natural - this is part of our survival program. But with most of us now consuming a lot of industrially processed food and convenience products, this natural need has gone off the rails.
With more than 15% of children now overweight or obese¹, the number of obese children has doubled in the last 30 years. Among adolescents, it has even tripled. According to the recommendations of the "Pediatricians & Adolescent Physicians on the Net", children are allowed - depending on their age and their daily calorie intake - to consume less than 6 small teaspoons of added sugar each day.² However, according to numerous surveys, even one-year-old children eat three to four times as much sugar as they should actually eat in one day.
Studies have shown that high sugar consumption is associated with a number of serious health risks. These include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and tooth decay. The first signs of these diseases are now being seen not only in adults but also in young children. In the early 1990s, 3 percent of all newly diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes were children. By 2014, this figure had risen to 45 percent worldwide.³
When small children constantly consume sugary foods, their taste buds develop a craving for sugar. This can lead children to become accustomed to unhealthy eating habits, which can accompany them into adulthood. Studies have shown that children who are overweight at the age of 2 are likely to be overweight as adults. This increases their risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.²
Dear parents Start early with a healthy diet!
From a purely chemical point of view, sugar is a substance that is formed in plants and tastes sweet. Sugar is found in natural foods such as fruit and cereals. These forms of sugar are generally not a problem. However, when it comes to the sugar that the food industry mainly provides us with (household sugar, glucose syrup, etc.), problems are often not far away. Because this sugar has health disadvantages. You can read more about the negative effects of this sugar here.
In recent years, some new, healthier sugar alternatives have come onto the market. When looking for a sugar substitute, ask yourself why you want to replace sugar. When it comes to calories, low-calorie or non-calorie sweeteners are the first choice. But it's usually healthier to simply change your diet to less sweets. When it comes to taste, honey and syrups are the best sugar alternatives.
But are honey, coconut blossom sugar or xylitol really healthier than ordinary household sugar? We have compared the advantages and disadvantages of 12 sugar alternatives for you. The three most important evaluation criteria are the fructose content, the glycemic index (GI) and the calorie number.
Why should the fructose content of sugar alternatives be considered?
The problem with fructose for humans is that we have had very little contact with it in our evolutionary history. Fructose was an extremely rare sugar that was only available when the fruit was ripe. So our bodies have not been prepared evolutionarily for the amounts of fructose that flood our everyday lives today. We have never been exposed to so much sweet fruit, fruit juices, soft drinks and sweets as we are today.
Commercial household sugar, for example, consists of 50% fructose. The other part is glucose. Glucose is the most important fuel for life on earth. Glucose is the "good" sugar because it can be used by all cells to produce energy and is essential for some parts of our body.
Fructose is metabolized by the body in a completely different way than glucose. While every single cell in our body is able to use glucose, fructose is metabolized only by the liver. If you eat fructose rich, our liver will be overloaded. In addition, fructose is directly converted into fat, which is fatal for our weight and health.
What does the glycemic index say about sugar alternatives?
The glycemic index can be used to compare the effect of different types of sugar on blood sugar levels. Glucose, for example, has a glycemic index (GI) of 100 and fructose has a GI of 25. Normal household sugar is a combination of these two sugars and has a GI of 65. A GI <50 is considered low and is therefore desirable in order to maintain as constant a blood sugar level as possible.
Why should you pay attention to the calorie content of the sugar alternatives?
Unfortunately, most sugar alternatives do not provide any or hardly any nutrients. They unnecessarily burden our calorie account with "empty" calories. In order to metabolize these empty calories, the body uses nutrient reserves that it needs for its health, e.g. the B vitamins. So make sure you always consume as few empty calories as possible. This protects the nutrient stores and we have all the more opportunities to consume calories in the form of healthy and nutrient-rich foods.
There is no such thing as the perfect sugar alternative. It is generally recommended to reduce sugar and its alternatives to a minimum and at the same time to sharpen the sense of taste again. This way we need less of the sweet poison. When choosing the sugar alternative, you should always consider the fructose content, the glycemic effect and the number of calories. We have sweetened our chocolates with coconut blossom sugar, which has a lower GI and with its caramel taste is ideal for chocolate products. Compared to traditional chocolate for children, our chocolate DISTINCTLY contains less sugar!
We would be very happy if you would share your thoughts and sugar preferences with us!
²Source: Kinder- & Jugendärzte im Netz
³Source: Deutsche Diabetes Gesellschaft