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Thinking About Going "Saltless" or "Sugarless"? Things You Should Consider
Cravings for salt and for sugar
If you, like me, are either diabetic, overweight, or both, I’ll bet your Doctor has told you, more than once, “Cut out the salt and stop using sugar.” While it is easy to avoid adding sugar or salt to our food, there are many places where salt and sugar hide. Processed foods, cheeses, prepared soups, Chinese take-out, non-diet sodas, and even pre-packaged green salads are all suspects. first.
Salt, is a conundrum Spice. Salt, chemically known as Sodium Chloride, is one of those minerals that is both beneficial and toxic to life. Also known by its chemical moniker, NaCl, salt in its various forms will be actively sought out by living beings, instinctively. Everyone remembers putting salt licks out for stray animals, especially in the winter months.
But there is a dark side: too much salt leads to water retention and in some cases, death.
Since ancient times, salt has been valued, either as a food additive or a preservative. Meat was often salted for long sea voyages or traveling among ancient peoples.
Our word for “money”, salary, derives from the Roman custom of paying their soldiers in salt instead of hard money.
For most of us in modern times, the foods we eat are processed to contain salt. Accordingly, we tend to take too much salt. While it is true that we need about 2.5 grams, or about 2500 mg of salt per day for life, our modern diets often give us more than without adding more salt.
Did you know that even the salads served in restaurants are loaded with salt?
What do we use instead of salt?
We can turn to a salt substitute. There are a number of readily available salt substitutes on the market, and almost all of them are based on some form of Potassium Chloride (KCl).
For many people KCl is that it brings taste buds in a similar way to NaCl salt. The downside is that for a large number of us, KCl leaves a bitter, metallic after taste.
Commercial formulations include “NoSalt,” straight KCl, NuSalt, and mixtures of NaCl and KCl, “SoSalt,” a mixture of KCl and lysine. All these are done to stimulate our taste buds to trick us into thinking that we taste “salt”.
But there are other ways. If you go online, you will find many articles that describe alternatives to Sodium Chloride (NaCl), especially herbs, citrus, and spices that also trick the body into believing that it contains NaCl.
While this article is not meant to be the “be all, end all” of salt substitutes, it is known that we get a lot of salt ‘naturally’ through processed foods.
Another drawback of using potassium-based salt substitutes is that the body retains both NaCl and KCl. In the case of potassium, we can easily overload ourselves with potassium and actually ‘poison’ ourselves with too much potassium.
Overdosing from Potassium is called Hyperkalemia.” Symptoms of hyperkalemia include, but are not limited to, muscle weakness, fatigue, tingling sensations, or nausea. Severe overdoses can cause a slow heart rate, weak pulse and severe drop in blood pressure. Other reported symptoms include stomach pain, general malaise, sickness, and diarrhea. Other symptoms include: tiredness or weakness, feeling of numbness or tingling, nausea or vomiting, breathing problems. , chest pain, palpitations or racing heartbeats.
But how can we remove salt from our food without adding potassium? One of the most effective ways is to use a salt substitute that is potassium free, but still manages to stimulate the salivary glands in the same way that salt does.
We have mentioned more commercially available salt substitutes: NoSalt, SoSalt, and so on. All of these types of products are different forms of potassium chloride.
As we have also noted, many people do not notice the difference in taste, a sour, metallic taste.
Along with the possibility of getting too much potassium in your diet, these potassium-based salt substitutes are not healthy enough for you.
Fortunately, there are other salt substitutes on the market. These work by stimulating receptors in the mouth that make us feel like we are taking in salt. The most effective is some form of citrus or citric acid.
I have tried six commercially available products, Bragg™ Sprinkle Herb and Spice Seasoning, Mrs. Dash™ Salt Free Seasoning, Lawry’s™ Salt Free 17 Seasoning, Benson’s™ – Table Salt Flavor, Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning, and Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning blends Magic Salt Free Seasoning.
All are acceptable alternatives to potassium-based salt substitutes.
However, you can find others. There are even recipes online for making your own sodium-free salt substitute.
In this article, when I call for “salt mode”, feel free to use any brand or version that suits your fancy.
There are a number of sugar substitutes on the market. Some have natural ingredients, some have only artificial ingredients.
I have tried most of them, and try to avoid any artificial sweeteners that contain aspartame and similar artificial ingredients.
Processed natural sweeteners, made from naturally occurring plant materials, such as Swerve™, Stevia™, monk fruit and sugar alcohols (such as erythritol or xylitol) tend to taste better than sugar. (Stevia™ is 200X sweeter than sugar). However, there are downsides for most of them.
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni)
The Stevia plant gets its sugary flavor from a variety of compounds, especially steviosides and rebaudiosides, which are estimated to be 150-400 times sweeter than regular sugar. Due to the ease of processing, the commercial product named Stevia™ is usually made from Rebaudioside-A, or “Reb-A only”. Reb-A does, however, leave a bitter, unpleasant aftertaste of licorice.
Other Rebaudiosides, particularly Reb-D and Reb-M, are more “sugar-like” and have no aftertaste. Reb-D is the most common, and sugar substitutes containing Reb-D are now appearing on the market. Their boxes are clearly marked with “Reb-D”. One such product is Stevia Naturals™, which has a taste close to “real” sugar.
Erythritol, in granular form, dissolves slowly in liquids, but the “confectioner” powder form is preferred: it dissolves very quickly.
Erythritol is not a 1:1 substitute for sugar. The ratio is more like 1:1?, requiring Erythritol a third more than its sugar counterpart. However, the aftertaste of Erythritol directly is not as satisfying as sugar.
Monk Fruit out
The combination of Monk fruit and Erythritol actually tastes a lot like sugar, and is a tolerable and acceptable alternative to sugar, especially in baking. I have used this combination to make very good pancakes and waffles.
Xylitol is one of the compounds classified as sugar alcohols. Chemically, sugar alcohols have a molecular composition that modifies and combines the characteristics of both sugar and alcohol, hence the name. Naturally occurring compounds, sugar alcohols can be found in many fruits and vegetables. Humans also produce small amounts of Xylitol through normal metabolism.
However, Xylitol is not calorie free.
Sugar has, on average, 4 calories per gram.
Xylitol has 2.4 calories per gram.
Xylitol has 40% less carbohydrates than sugar, but it still has carbs. Due to its low glycemic index, Xylitol is a very good sugar alternative for weight management and for diabetics and pre-diabetics.
Sugary alcohols tend to have low glycemic indexes – a measure of how quickly a compound raises blood sugar. Xylitol has a glycemic index of 7, while sugar has a glycemic index of 60-70.
Sugary drinks, although technically a carbohydrate, tend not to raise blood sugar levels while giving the impression that you are eating sugar. Sugar syrups are popular sweeteners for soft drinks and for low carb products.
It uses Xylitol as a 1:1 direct replacement for sugar.
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