We’ve all been there. You’re working from home, packing up a lunch for the day or just relaxing after a long week, and the urge for a sweet treat hits. Finding the right snacks that are truly satisfying can be a challenge — especially when refined sugar seems to be in most of them.
Check the back of any pre-packaged food and you’ll find them there, ‘corn syrup’, ‘glucose syrup’, ‘galactose’ and ‘maltose’… skulking in the ingredients list. So, what do you do if you want to cut out those harmful ingredients AND enjoy an indulgent sweet treat?
Well, luckily, you can. A new wave of sweet-treat brands have booted out the artificial and embraced all things natural. No refined sugar, no artificial flavourings, and no unnecessary sweeteners. Just natural, plant-based sugars and flavourings and nutrient-rich ingredients that taste incredible.
And here’s why…
Natural sugar tastes great!
Most of us grew up with mainstream sweet treats. That means artificially flavoured gummy candy, chocolate full of refined sugar, and savoury snacks we didn’t even realise had sugar in. When we think of tasty treats, it’s easy to think that refined sugars are what made them so delicious.
But that is just not the case.
Natural sugars can be just as (if not more) delicious than heavy, processed sugars. What’s even better is that if they’re used in chocolate bars, they won’t cover up the real flavours of the cacao or cocoa. Instead, they’ll add some natural sweetness, and leave you with a bar that tastes like REAL chocolate — creamy, comforting and with added bite.
Refined sugar is overly processed
Put natural and refined sugar side by side and you might not notice a difference, yet their flavour, ingredients and even how they’re produced are different.
Refined sugar begins its life as a plant in the form of sugarcane. But that’s where the natural cycle ends. It’s heated, re-heated and then bleached with bone char — made from animal bones, to turn it white. This over-processing not only strips sugarcane of its natural goodness but adds in steps that impact the environment.
Let’s compare this to one of the most popular natural sugars — coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is processed in 2 simple steps. Liquid sap is collected from the flower buds of the coconut palm tree, which causes minimal damage to the tree. It’s then heated until it crystallises. That’s it.
No unnecessary impact on the planet. And crucially no fakery.
Refined sugars are empty calories
‘Empty calories’ is a phrase that’s thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Essentially, empty calories are linked to food and drinks that don’t supply any nutritional value.
Natural sugars like coconut sugar, honey, and fruit syrups contain ingredients such as fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein. Not only do these added ingredients give your body a healthy boost but they help slow down how quickly sugar enters your body — which stops those dizzying sugar highs and draining crashes.
Refined sugar isn’t so helpful and contains little to no nutritional value. That means when it’s crammed into everyday treats like sweets or mainstream chocolate bars (where it usually takes up over 50% of the bar) you’re giving yourself all the calories but none of the good stuff.
Natural sugars have a lower glycaemic index
So natural sugars have a richer flavour and are processed in a less harmful way, but there are even more benefits. Different sugars have different impacts on the body. Some, like glucose, cause serious spikes in the body’s blood sugar. Think dizzying sugar highs and crashes that come with nausea, anxiety and trouble focusing. Sugars like this can also lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
The good thing is that not all sugars are alike.
We mentioned coconut sugar before, but let’s deep dive. Coconut sugar is one of those ingredients that seems too good to be true. This natural wonder contains potassium, iron, zinc and antioxidants. It’s full of inulin that helps benefit your digestion. It’s organic and cruelty-free AND it tastes amazing. Seriously, if you replace that teaspoon of cane sugar in your coffee with coconut sugar — you’ll notice the difference.
Even better, coconut sugar doesn’t affect your body in the same way as other sugars. Dig into a bar of chocolate made from it, and you won’t have to deal with the same sugar spike issues.
Zero refined sugar, zero artificial sweeteners
With many food manufacturers starting to wise up to the dangers of refined sugar, more and more zero-sugar products have been hitting the shelves. From drinks and sweets to breakfast cereals, zero-sugar products can seem like a great option, but many replace their sugar content with artificial sweeteners. And these have their downsides.
Ever eaten something delicious, but highly processed, and found yourself feeling slightly depressed? Lethargic, sluggish and just not yourself? That could be because the artificial sweeteners are affecting your gut — and therefore your mood.
The gut is often referred to as the second brain because of its connection to our actual brain. The two are so linked we even have physical reactions to emotions, like butterflies in our stomach or ‘gut feelings’. The gut even impacts the body’s level of serotonin — the ‘happy chemical’ that regulates mood.
Certain artificial sweeteners can interfere with the production of serotonin, leading you to get less than you need and causing low moods. So, if you’re feeling less than great, it might be worth introducing more gut-friendly ingredients to your diet.
Luckily, there’s plenty of natural sweetening alternatives that are healthy and delicious including Lucuma.
Lucuma is a Peruvian superfruit that’s nicknamed the “gold of the Incas”. Similar in taste to a sweet potato and with a decadent caramel flavour, it’s packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and healthy carbohydrates. Dried and ground into a fine powder, lucuma adds a mellow sweetness that’s great in chocolate.
In fact, our friends at Prodigy use it in every one of their bars.
Prodigy is all about crafting rich, creamy and indulgent chocolate that’s designed to be better for you. No labs or unnatural chemicals, just real cacao chocolate, plant-based ingredients brimming with goodness and plastic-free packaging for a planet-friendly treat.
This blog post is sponsored by Prodigy Snacks, chocolate that breaks the mould, discover more at www.prodigysnacks.com.