Do you really know all about sugar?

Sugar alternative

What we know

In recent years, studies on sugar and it's potentially harmful effects have been widely publicized, increasing awareness amongst consumers in general.

It is widely known that consuming too much sugar can result in immediate effects of spiked blood sugar levels. This may give you an energy boost, but it also leads to higher blood pressure and heart rate, eventually leading to a 'sugar crash' when the effects wear off. This will in turn cause your brain to crave for that sugar fix, leading to a vicious cycle where your body builds tolerance to sugar and craves for more amounts each time.

In the long run, the effects of too much sugar potentially leads to a host of issues on other body functions. Notably, it is also widely known that sugar is one of the leading causes of diabetes, and is also linked to obesity, which in turn causes heart and liver disease.

So why do people still use sugar?

Sugar is not all bad. Small amounts of sugar complement a healthy diet, and provides function in the culinary process. These sugars can come in many forms, be it brown sugar, cane sugar, rock sugar, or other names. However, these all fall into the same category of refined and processed sugars.

When making food, sugar is used for a wide range of reasons:

  1. Taste
  2. Colour and flavour
  3. Bulk and texture
  4. Fermentation
  5. Preservation

Whilst certain recipes require sugar for the second to fifth points, we should take a closer look and question the reasons we need sugar for taste.

Sweetness improves the palatability of many foods. Adding sugar to foods with high nutrient quality may increase the chance they are consumed. In addition, sugar plays a role in contributing to the flavor profile of foods by interacting with other ingredients to enhance or lessen certain flavours. 

Although the term 'sugar' is used above, what we are really looking for is 'sweetness' in food. The enhancement or reduction of flavours is a double edged sword, as some manufactures use sugar (hence sweetness) to mask the lack of ingredients used in a recipe, choosing instead to fall back on the familiar taste of sweetness which has become acceptable to most consumers. A vast majority of these recipes tend to be in bottled beverages.

With this context, we should be questioning if sweetness in certain recipes indeed improve its flavour, and if so, what are the non-sugar and natural substitutes that are available in the market today?

What can we do?

As we become more aware of the harmful effects of sugar, how do we make better decisions of what we consume? 

In recent times, the popularity of sugar substitutes have increased as studies have shown that these ingredients provide an excellent taste profile without the harmful effects arising from increased blood sugar levels. Most of these substitutes are both low (or zero) in calories, as well as diabetic friendly.

One of the most popular and natural substitute is Stevia. Stevia is sustainable, both for personal health, as well as the environment.

Dried stevia

Personal health

As an alternative to sucrose, or table sugar, using stevia as a sweetener carries the potential for considerable health benefits.

Stevia is considered “no-calorie” on the FoodData Central (FDC)Trusted Source. Stevia does not strictly contain zero calories, but it is significantly less calorific than sucrose and low enough to be classified as such.

The sweet-tasting components in stevia sweeteners occur naturally. This characteristic may benefit people who prefer naturally-sourced foods and beverages. The low calorie count qualifies Stevia to be a healthful alternative for diabetes control or weight loss.


As stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. It typically requires about 20 percent of the land and far less water to provide the same amount of sweetness as other mainstream sweeteners. This also means less carbon emissions down the supply chain, from packaging, transport, to waste.

At Natural Brews, we do not add sugar in any of our brews, choosing only to use stevia selectively in recipes which benefit from the added flavor of sweetness. The stevia we use is unprocessed, meaning we steep the leaves of the plant instead of using extracts or powders.

This also means we use increased amounts of ingredients to bring out the flavours of the core ingredients without masking them with sweetness.

We hope that as sugar substitutes become more widely used, mainstream food manufacturers will begin to adopt these ingredients and increase our options for sugarless and tasty food products.

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