Salt and Sugar Substitutes for Better Heart Health
The importance of heart health continues to gain attention as more healthy diets emerge and as foodservice establishments shift to accommodate them. To avoid heart disease, it's important to monitor your intake of salt and sugar. Below, we explain why salt and sugar can be bad for your heart, and we offer solutions for substituting these ingredients in your cooking and baking.
If you have to use sugar when baking, then it’s best to use sugar substitutes like brown sugar, molasses, and agave nectar that are less refined than white sugar. If you have a little flexibility with your recipe, try out some of these other sugar alternatives instead.
- Honey: When substituting honey for sugar, use 2/3 cup of honey for every 1 cup of sugar called for in your recipe. Honey sweetens your dish and also complements a variety of fruity and floral flavors.
- Maple Syrup: To substitute maple syrup for sugar, use 3/4 cup of maple syrup for every 1 cup of sugar called for in your recipe. Maple syrup will add a rich sweetness to your dish that also pairs well with salty or nutty ingredients.
- Applesauce: Try substituting unsweetened applesauce for sugar when baking. Simply replace 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of applesauce in your cakes, muffins, nut breads, and brownies. Plus, applesauce will make your baked goods retain more moisture. Be sure to also reduce the liquid called for in your recipe by about 1/4 cup if you use applesauce instead of sugar.
- Freshly Squeezed Fruit Juice: If you’re making sauces, marinades, salad dressings, or baked goods, consider replacing sugar with freshly squeezed juices. Simply substitute every cup of sugar with 3/4 cup of juice. Similar to when using applesauce, be sure to reduce the liquid in your recipe if you use juice as a substitute for sugar.
- Citrus Zest: Using the zest of a lemon, lime, or orange is a great way to sweeten baked goods and cocktails. To do so, grate the peel of a citrus fruit into your batter or beverage until the flavor is prominent.
- Raisins, Figs, and Dates: These naturally sweetened dried fruits can substitute sugar on a 1:1 ratio in many baked goods. Simply soak the dried fruits in hot water, add them to a blender, and puree them until they become a smooth paste.
- Bananas: Like the fruit paste mentioned above, bananas can replace sugar on a 1:1 ratio. Simply combine one cup of mashed, overripe banana with a few tablespoons of water and puree until smooth.
Why Is Sugar Bad for You?
Consuming too much sugar can cause insulin spikes, which can lead to inflammation of the arterial walls. Additionally, sugar is very calorie-dense. As a result, excess sugar intake can lead to weight gain, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease, much like an excess of salt can.
If you have to use salt in your recipes, then it’s best to use less refined options like sea salt, pink Himalayan sea salt, and Molokai sea salt. Check out the ingredients below, if you’re looking for other healthy salt alternatives for your recipes.
- Garlic, Onions, and Leeks: Incorporate ingredients like fresh garlic, chopped onions, and leeks to your stir fry, casserole, soup, and pasta to add delicious flavor without the high levels of sodium. These ingredients, and others from the Allium genus of plants, are known to lower blood pressure and hinder tumor growth.
- Spices: Enhance your dishes by adding pepper, oregano, basil, cumin, turmeric, and other seasonings. Not only do they add more flavor to your foods, but many of them are also known to boost metabolism and curb hunger.
- Vinegar: Use fruit- or garlic-infused vinegars to marinade meats or make salad dressings without the added salt. Vinegar can also be put into pasta sauces and soups for added savory flavor.
- Nutritional Yeast: This all-natural ingredient is used in a lot of vegan dishes. Unlike baking yeast, this version is deactivated, so it has no leavening ability. Thanks to its salty, somewhat cheesy flavor, it’s commonly sprinkled on popcorn, macaroni and cheese, pasta, and potatoes.
Why Is Salt Bad for You?
Your salt intake can affect your blood pressure. When you eat a lot of salt, it causes your body to retain water, which also raises your blood pressure. With salt being added to many prepared entrees and packaged meals, it can be difficult for people to reduce the amount of sodium in their diets. It’s important to limit your amount of salt intake, in order to prevent heart and kidney damage.
By using some of these substitutions in your cooking, baking, and homemade cocktail mixers, you’ll be able to make them healthier without sacrificing taste. Refer to this list of sugar and salt substitutes to create a healthier menu that allows patrons to maintain a healthy diet.