Sugar Substitutes for
Years ago, having diabetes meant that you had
to avoid sweetness in your meals. Luckily, today, there are low
that taste as good as sugar and
have very few calories.
The American Diabetes Association diet used
to suggest avoiding table sugar and using sugar substitutes
instead. The assumption was that the
human body more quickly digests and absorbs regular sugar into the
blood than starches. The sugar was thought to cause a more
significant rise in blood glucose.
Today, this is considered inaccurate. Over a
dozen studies have pointed out that there isn’t much difference in
the increase in blood glucose between table sugar and refined
starches (such as white flour and white rice). The American
Diabetes Association has changed its recommendations here on sugar
substitutes for people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Even though the former restrictions as to
exact amounts of table sugar have been eased, the American
Diabetes Association still suggests this: Work sugar amounts and
frequencies into your dietician recommended food plan. Of course,
you can mix regular sugar along with low glycemic index
substitutes into your meals.
Sugar is Now Considered Just Another Carbohydrate for Diabetics
Since table sugar
counts as a carbohydrate it needs to be substituted as such.
Your dietician will give you ideas as to what constitutes “sugary”
foods. Be aware that sugary foods have empty calories and
offer little nutrition. Sometimes they are high in fat.
Greater risk of heart and blood vessel disease can result.
Since individuals have
different responses to foods, it's a good idea to check your blood
sugar level with a glucose meter right after consuming a sugary
food. There could be a small change in blood
glucose levels or a much greater change (then you would need to
use more caution when eating foods with significant sugar
content). For your own information, you might also want to
check your blood sugar after consuming a sugar substitute to see
the difference between regular sugar and sugar substitutes.
In nature, there are many kinds of sugars.
Besides sucrose or table sugar, there are maltose, fructose, and
dextrose, as well as sugar alcohols like mannitol, sorbitol, and
Natural Sugar Substitutes,
Here are two naturally derived sugar
substitutes that have been used safely for many years.
is a naturally derived sugar
substitute from a South American plant. It is very sweet and a
tiny amount produces an extremely sweet but slightly bitter
taste. It is generally only available in health food stores
because the FDA has approved it as a food additive/supplement
not as a sweetener, even though it is quite safe to consume.
The reason for this is that it cannot be patented and therefore,
no organization has been willing to do the expensive work of
getting it approved by the FDA. Newer versions of this sweetener
do not have the slightly bitter aftertaste.
is derived from food sources and
contains 10 calories per teaspoon. It is an excellent FDA
approved sweetener for the diabetic. It tastes more like sugar
than some of the other products mentioned above but when taken
in very large doses, it can cause diarrhea (simply reduce or
discontinue use). Even though it tastes more like sugar than
any other sugar substitute, it is mostly found in health food
stores and on the Internet.
Here are 3 Artificial Sugar
Regarding many low calorie sweeteners, the
American Diabetes Association generally follows the FDA’s
conclusion. The following three artificially created sweeteners
do have FDA approval. We do not recommend that you use these
sweeteners in large quantities, as the long-term effects on humans
have not been thoroughly studied. These sweeteners are not
naturally derived and some studies have shown possible problems
- Saccharin—even though very significant
amounts of saccharin have caused cancer in laboratory rats,
there is evidence also that this sweetener doesn’t cause cancer
in people. Saccharin has a slightly bitter aftertaste.
- Aspartame or NutraSweet, available at
grocery stores, is an alternative sweetener for the diabetic
except for those people with phenylketonuria or PKU. Aspartame
has been known to cause many unpleasant side effects so we
recommend that you use this sweetener with care.
- Sucralose or SPLENDA can be purchased in
your local grocery store. It can be used in place of sugar such
as in baked goods and processed foods. Sucralose is
created from regular table sugar (sucrose), where
atoms have been substituted
artificially for other groups found in
sucrose. Even though the FDA
approves it, since this is a newly developed sweetener, the
long-term safety of sucralose is unknown
Avoid Corn Syrup
A commonly found sweetener in many processed
foods is corn syrup. We recommend that you do not eat or drink
foods that have this highly processed sweetener as a major
ingredient as it can actually cause an excessive rise in blood
glucose. No matter how you look at it, excess amounts of refined
carbohydrates are not good for your blood glucose levels.
suggestions for diabetics in relation to using sugars and sugar
- Take advice from a registered dietician
regarding a meal plan, when including sugar and low-calorie
- Excessive use of any sweetener (artificial
or natural) may not be healthy for diabetics. Use them
judiciously and in moderation.
- Cut down on saturated fats and refined
carbohydrates (anything made with white flour) which often are
found with sugar in sweet foods.
- Make sure you go through Food Labels to
find out about the quantities of carbohydrates, fats, and
proteins you are getting.
- Eat healthy foods like beans, low glycemic
vegetables, fruits, and non-fat dairy products daily.