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Fight your sweet tooth with these 4 natural sweeteners and fluids

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New Delhi, Jan 3: We are all set to begin the New Year with new pledges and resolutions to stay fit and tune in to a healthy lifestyle. To beat a big hurdle in your healthy resolution — dieting boredom — one needs to keep the diet plan and healthy eating target as exciting and simple as possible.

Nature has blessed us with a few natural sweeteners which can best fit into our healthy diet, says nutritionist and fitness trainer Iram Zaidi. Here are her four top natural sweeteners.

*Stevia-plant based, zero calorie, easy to use and safe sweetener

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Stevia is getting popular across the world as a natural sweetener. There were certain misconceptions with its bitter taste as a majority of products were based on traditional stevia sweeteners offered in the form of high purity Reb A molecule. A recently developed variety of stevia tastes exactly like sugar, so that our taste buds should not be compromised. Given stevia can replace some unwanted sweetener calories, it can be one tool for cutting calories from your daily diet without affecting blood sugar or insulin levels.

* Sugarcane juice — Nature’s superfluid and a great sweetener

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Sugarcane juice has been a part of Indian culture for thousands of years. Ayurveda acharyas prefer the juice to be extracted from healthy canes and consumed in hygienic form. A great energy drink, skin toner, body cleanser and loaded with a variety of medicinal properties to fight a majority of diseases, sugarcane juice is unfortunately missing from our diet plans. One of the biggest reasons was the hygiene factor. Now, a bottled sugarcane juice or cold-pressed sugarcane juice are good pick-ups for a healthy start.

* Honey — Nature’s best anti-biotic and great sweetener

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Natural honey is loaded with nutrients and is an essential part of Indian home remedy solutions from ages. It has proteins, minerals, and vitamins. The plant enzyme amylase present in raw honey is effective in breaking down and helping the predigestion of the starches and also helps to raise the level of antioxidants required in the body. One teaspoon of honey is only about 20 calories.

* Coconut sugar — lower glycemic index and great nutritional value

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Coconut sugar is also called coconut palm sugar. It is a natural sugar made from sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut plant. It is a good source of minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants. Coconut sugar and coconut nectar contain a fiber known as inulin. This fiber may help slow glucose absorption, offering an alternative for those dealing with diabetic concerns.

So, go ahead with these natural sweeteners as there is no need to put an extra effort to fight your sweet tooth by eliminating sugar from your meals.

IANS

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Eating high-carb diet can help lose weight

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Here’s how a high carb diet may help lose weight. (Photo Credit- Shutterstock)

New York, Sep 25: Struggling hard to shed those extra kilos? If so, foods high in carbohydrates — found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes — may help you reduce body weight and fat as well as improve insulin function, suggests a study challenging previous beliefs.

It is because these complex carbohydrates are naturally rich in fibre — a nutrient found in plant foods that adds bulk to the diet without adding extra calories.

The study, led by US-non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, showed that a plant-based, high-carbohydrate diet can help with weight regulation and body composition and reduce the risk for Type-2 diabetes.

“Fad diets often lead people to fear carbohydrates. But the research continues to show that healthy carbohydrates — from fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains — are the healthiest fuel for our bodies,” said lead author Hana Kahleova, Director at the organisation.

In the study, published in the journal Nutrients, the team included nearly 100 participants for a 16-week randomised clinical trial and placed participants in either a plant-based, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet group or asked them to maintain their current diet.

The plant-based diet group avoided all animal products and added oils and limited fat intake of 20-30 grams per day. There were no limits on calories or carbohydrate intake.

The control group maintained their current diets, which included meat and dairy products. Neither group altered their exercise routines.

The results demonstrated that total carbohydrate intake did not change in the control group, but increased significantly in the plant-based diet group, both as absolute intake and as a percentage of total calories.

At the end of the trial, body mass index, body weight, fat mass, visceral fat volume, and insulin resistance decreased significantly in the plant-based diet group. There were no significant changes in the control group, the researchers noted.

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New blood test in pregnancy to predict autism risk in babies

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New York, Sep 22: Researchers have developed a novel blood test for pregnant mothers that can, with nearly 90 per cent accuracy rate, predict the probability of having a child that will be diagnosed with autism.

According to studies, if a mother has previously had a child with autism, the risk of having a second child with the developmental disorder is approximately 18.7 per cent, whereas the risk in the general population is approximately 1.7 per cent.

In the study, led by Juergen Hahn, Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, metabolites of the folate-dependent transmethylation and transsulfuration biochemical pathways of pregnant mothers were measured to determine whether or not the risk of having a child with autism could be predicted by her metabolic profile.

Pregnant mothers who have had a child with autism before were separated into two groups based on the diagnosis of their child whether the child had autism or not.

Then these mothers were compared to a group of control mothers who have not had a child with autism before.

The results, appearing in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, showed that while it is not possible to determine during a pregnancy if a child will be diagnosed with autism by age 3, they did find that differences in the plasma metabolites are indicative of the relative risk (18.7 per cent vs 1.7 per cent) for having a child with autism.

“These are exciting results as they hint at differences in some metabolic processes that potentially play a role in increasing the risk of having a child with autism,” Hahn said.

“However, it would be highly desirable if a prediction based upon physiological measurements could be made to determine which risk group a prospective mother falls into,” Hahn noted.

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Eat fish thrice a week to boost your unborn’s eyesight, brain

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London, Sep 21: Pregnant women can enhance the development of their unborn child’s eyesight and brain function by regularly eating fatty fish during the pregnancy, a new study has found.

The findings suggested that infants whose mothers ate fish three or more times a week during the last trimester of their pregnancy fared better than those whose mothers ate no fish or only up to two portions per week.

“The results of our study suggest that frequent fish consumption by pregnant women is of benefit for their unborn child’s development,” said lead author Kirsi Laitinen of the University of Turku in Finland.

“This may be attributable to long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids within fish, but also due to other nutrients like vitamin D and E, which are also important for development,” Laitinen added.

For the study, published in the journal Pediatric Research, the research team analysed the results of a small group of mothers and their children drawn from a larger study.

The mothers had to keep a regular food diary during the course of their pregnancy. Fluctuations in their weight before and during pregnancy were taken into account, along with their blood sugar level and blood pressure.

The team recorded the levels of nutritional long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid sources in the mother’s diet and blood serum, and the levels in the blood of their children by the age of one month.

Their children were further tested around their second birthday using pattern reversal visual evoked potentials (pVEP). This sensitive and accurate, non-invasive method is used to detect visual functioning and maturational changes occurring within a young child’s visual system.

“Our study therefore highlights the potential importance of subtle changes in the diet of healthy women with uncompromised pregnancies, beyond prematurity or nutritional deficiencies, in regulating infantile neurodevelopment,” Laitinen noted.

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