Studies have shown that there are benefits for older adults who reduce their sugar intake. For seniors with Type 2 diabetes, excess glucose in the blood can lead to severe organ damage and increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, vision loss and nerve damage. A diet high in carbohydrates and sugar is linked to mild cognitive impairment (or MCI) – and seniors with MCI are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. |
It’s wise for elderly adults to strive for a diet rich in nutrients and to avoid weight gain that can lead to other health problems. But avoiding sugar can be difficult – there are hidden sugars in processed foods, and even fresh fruit contains sugar.
These natural sugar substitutes, when used sensibly, will help you sweeten meals for elderly adults without worrying about the ill effects.
Honey: Nature’s Sweetener
Honey is high in calories, but is a healthier option than refined sugar which loses its nutritious benefits in the manufacturing process. As a sweetener, it’s also superior to sugar for its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties as well as its healthier glycemic index – an important consideration for diabetics. Unlike sugar, honey is absorbed into the bloodstream slowly which helps maintain stable insulin levels. To resist a spike in blood sugar, always serve honey with a source of protein; for example, spread a half teaspoon of honey with peanut butter on toast.
Stevia’s Health Benefits
Stevia is a plant native to South America, that in extract form can taste up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. It is calorie-free and is a popular ingredient in health drinks and energy bars. Stevia offers nutritional benefits for seniors including iron, fiber, potassium and zinc. You can buy stevia as a tabletop sweetener – perfect for adding to yogurt, cereal or a cup of tea. When you use it as a sugar substitute in baking, you’ll need just half a teaspoon of stevia for every full cup of sugar.
Sweetening with Agave Nectar
The sweetness from agave syrup comes from inulin, a complex form of fructose. With its low glycemic index, low calories and carbs, agave nectar can safely be taken in moderation by those on calorie-restricted diets. When cooking with agave nectar, you’ll need to adjust your recipe as agave syrup is 40% sweeter than sugar. An internet search will yield some excellent recipes for this natural sugar substitute including muffins, cupcakes, breads and frosted cakes. You can also pour agave nectar on waffles or pancakes just as you would maple syrup.
Now that you’re familiar with natural alternatives to sugar, enjoy the search for healthy recipes to start preparing both sweet and nutritious meals for elderly adults. At Grove Menus our priority is helping seniors maintain their health through our nutritious meal planning solutions. Call us or email our head office to learn more about our meal planning services.
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