The Best Sugar Substitutes For People With Diabetes + Their Pros & Cons
Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day, birthdays no matter which month were in, theres always an occasion that seems to call for sweet treats. It can be hard to ignore your sweet toothbut for people with diabetes, its especially important to understand sugar to manage glucose levels.
One potential solution to this dilemma: sugar substitutes! These sweeteners promise to help people with diabetes enjoy sweet treats without putting their glucose levels at risk. Most of these products are not broken down by the body they pass through without providing any calories. However, not all sugar substitutes are created equal and some come with notable health risks of their own. Keep reading to learn about the best sugar substitutes for diabetes.
The Best Sugar Substitutes
1) Date SyrupDate syrup is not just sugar its actually a food made from a fruit. Date syrup is low on the glycemic index – we verified this when we ran a clinical study looking at that effect on blood sugar in real time, on human clinical subjects, resulting in a GI of 47 +/- 2. It is also lower in fructose than most sweeteners. Moreover, date syrup is packed with nutrients like magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. It also has an antioxidant level thats the same as maca or raspberries, making it the most nutritionally dense sweetener out there. The potassium in date syrup actually helps your body slowly absorb and regulate sugar in the bloodstream.
2) Raw HoneyRaw honey, especially raw local honey, is much like dates in that its a real foodand also the nectar of the gods. In addition to sugar, honey has amino acids, electrolytes and a bounty of antioxidants. It has been touted for it natural antiseptic properties, and ability to alleviate allergy symptoms. While honey does contain higher fructose levels, its relatively low on the glycemic index, making it one of the best sugar substitutes of the bunch. One study found that replacing sugar with honey could actually lower blood sugar levels and prevent weight gain or aid in weight loss.
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Types Of Artificial Sweeteners
There are various artificial sweeteners licensed for use in the UK. These include:
- aspartame, used in Canderel, Hermesetas granulated
- saccharin, used in Hermesetas mini sweeteners
- sucralose, used in Splenda
- acesulfame potassium , used in Hermesetas Gold sweetener
- cyclamate, used in Hermesetas liquid.
Some products are made from a combination of two artificial sweeteners. For example, Hermesetas Gold sweetener is made from a blend of aspartame and acesulfame-K.
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Limiting Eating A Lot Of Sugar Is Still Top Advice
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Things To Watch Out For
While it may be exciting to find some natural sweeteners to take the place of sugar, there are some critical things to watch out for and pay attention to to avoid any issues with blood sugar levels.
Like we stated, its important to watch out for companies who make artificial sweeteners but put in additives to help prevent any bitter taste with sweeteners such as stevia.
Sugar substitutes can also be very costly, depending on name brands and how much you use them. The best bet is to avoid eating things that require sugar and thus sugar substitutes. A well-balanced diet can be your best defense against rises in blood sugar levels. Plus, when you eliminate those sweet foods, you often begin to crave them less.
If you are looking for a sub for using sugar in baking, be mindful of certain substitutes that cannot withstand high temperatures. These substitutes will completely lose any of their sweet flavors and may not bind in the baking good. Stevia works great but is much sweeter than regular sugar, and so it might take some time to get the flavor right. And sucralose also works great with high temps and can be used for sweetening hot drinks or baking.
And lastly, natural sweetener doesnt always mean better. Stevia is zero-calorie, but others may not be. And things like honey or apple sauce being used in place of sugar when baking will have the same effect for diabetes as they contain natural sugar and carbs that can still affect blood sugar levels.
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Tips For Minimizing Side Effects:
- Introduce slowly Start with consuming just a little bit of sweetener to see how you react. Often times, you may be able to gradually increase the amount once your body gets used to it.
- Use blends Using a low carb sweetener blend can help reduce side effects because you arent getting too much of any one sweetener. If you notice a reaction to a particular type, try another.
- Avoid high-glycemic sugar alcohols Maltitol, sorbitol, and other polyols that arent erythritol or xylitol cause stomach upset in most people. Plus, they spike blood sugar.
- Consider eliminating all sugar alcohols If you have a sensitive stomach, its best to avoid xylitol and possibly erythritol .
- Be cautious with fibers Prebiotic fiber syrups can cause bloating and gas for those sensitive to too much fiber.
- Skip stevia and chicory for ragweed allergies Stevia and chicory root may cause headaches for people that are allergic to ragweed, birch, and similar plants. Chicory root may cause other allergic reactions as well.
The keto sweetener with the least side effects is allulose , because its chemically most similar to sugar without the sugar spike, of course!
Are Sugar Alternatives Really A Healthier Option
Though they have a low impact on blood sugar levels, most artificial sweeteners can cause side effects like digestive issues, bloating, and imbalance in healthy gut bacteria. Long-term and excessive use of artificial sweeteners has also been associated with an increased risk of obesity, cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, brain tumours, etc.
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Erythritol A Sugar Alcohol With Fewer Side Effects Than Other Options
Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol sweetener, but unlike the others just mentioned, it has less than 1 calorie per gram, notes the International Food Information Council Foundation, and doesnt have a big effect on blood sugar levels, per the American Diabetes Association. Its an ingredient in the stevia-derived sweetener Truvia and is marketed under the brand-name Swerve. Swerve measures cup-for-cup like sugar, and you can use it like table sugar, or in cooking and baking recipes that call for sugar.
If other sugar alcohol sweeteners give you tummy trouble, this may be a better option for you. It is less likely to produce the gas, bloating, and diarrhea that happen from fermentation by gut bacteria because only about 10 percent of the erythritol you consume enters the colon, per past research. The rest leaves the body through your urine.
Theres no ADI for erythritol, but the FDA hasn’t questioned notices submitted by erythritol makers that the sweetener is generally recognized as safe.
So What Are The Best Sweeteners For People With Diabetes
In general, there is no reason not to choose one of the natural sweeteners that dont affect blood sugar Stevia, monk fruit, or allulose. They are all great for people with diabetes and you can choose whichever one you think tastes the best. For baking, Stevia in the Raw is my preferred sweetener as it retains its taste and acts the most like sugar when heated.
Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are not terrible, but they do potentially have side effects, the most common of which is digestive issues. I, therefore, see no reason to use them when natural and safe alternatives are available.
Sugar substitutes such as honey and agave nectar are essentially identical to normal sugar when it comes to blood sugar impact. I do keep both sugar and honey in the house for the rare occasions where I want to bake something really decadent , but I try to use it as little as possible.
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The Initial Causes Best Alternative Sweetener For Diabetics
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition in many people. This type is caused by a lack of insulin and is a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. The bodys inability to process glucose from the blood can damage many parts of the body, including the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to avoid diabetes. Here are five tips to help you lower your risk: Eat more vegetables and fruits, get regular exercise, and avoid smoking.
High levels of triglycerides in the blood are another factor that can cause diabetes. These triglycerides are caused by a buildup of cholesterol in the blood. A high triglyceride level causes the body to misrepresent insulin as a molecule, which causes glucose to build up in the blood. A simple blood glucose test can confirm your diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. By following these tips, you can begin living a healthy life and avoid the complications of diabetes.
A person with type 2 diabetes must consume less sugar. Glucose causes thirst and dehydration because the body releases energy stores into the bloodstream instead of using insulin. If untreated, diabetes can lead to weight loss and diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition whereby the cells are deprived of energy. To prevent the condition, you must make sure that your diet is low in glycemic load and that you exercise regularly.
How To Get More In Diet
Getting more natural sweeteners in your daily diet isnt hard if you completely stop using refined table sugar and use healthier sugar substitutes instead. Plus, you also can look for food products that are sweet thanks to ingredients like stevia rather than refined sugar.
To find your best sugar substitutes, youll likely have to test out a few. You might end up liking one for your morning coffee but a different one for your baking needs.
Even when using natural sweeteners, like raw honey, you still want to be mindful of your overall sugar consumption.
How much natural sugar should you have a day? According to The American Heart Association , you should limit the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance.
For most American women, this is no more than 100 calories per day and no more than 150 calories per day for men . The AHA defines added sugars as any sugars or caloric sweeteners added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation.
So added sugars include refined sugar as well as natural sweeteners like honey.
If you are being treated for any ongoing health concern, especially diabetes, check with your doctor before incorporating any new sweeteners and sugar substitutes into your diet.
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When In Doubt Read The Nutrition Label
To know for sure what kind of sweetener a food product contains, check the Nutrition Facts label. In the Carbohydrate section, you can see how many carbohydrates the product has, and how much of these carbohydrates are in the form of sugar or sugar alcohol.
For even more nutrition information, read the Ingredients list. It should show any added sweeteners, whether they are sugars, sugar alcohols, or artificial.
By understanding more about artificial sweeteners and diabetes, you will be able to make better food choices as you balance sweetness with good blood sugar control.
Different From Artificial Sweeteners
Sugar alcohols are often synthetic, similar to artificial sweeteners. But these two classifications of sugar alternatives arent the same. Sugar alcohols are different because they:
- can be metabolized without insulin
- are less sweet than artificial sweeteners and sugar
- can be partially digested in the intestine
- dont have the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners
Research suggests that sugar alcohols can be a sufficient replacement for sugar. But reports also say that it wont play a significant role in weight loss. You should treat sugar alcohols the same as sugar and limit your intake.
Sugar alcohols are also known to produce side effects such as gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. However, erythritol is usually better tolerated, if youre concerned about these side effects.
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Alternative Sugars You Should Actually Avoid
Artificial SweetenersArtificial and low-calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and neotame are considered the worst of the worst in the realm of alternative sweeteners. While the actual science is still out on the safety of aspartame and saccharin, theres plenty of anecdotal evidence that shows this stuff just isnt that good for you.
Many people report headaches, stomach aches and a general ill feeling after eating artificial sweeteners. And some studies have shown that chemical sweeteners can actually change the bacterial makeup of your microbiome, throwing your entire gut health out of whack.
The FDA does a pretty terrible job of regulating this industry, so its pretty hard to know if what youre eating is safe. Sucralose is the worst offender. Others like Nutrisweet, Truvia and a number of brands from the stevia plant claim to be better, but theres little data to support any claims.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup
This one almost goes without saying. High-fructose corn syrup, which is made through a chemical process thats anything but natural, is one of the worst offenders for insulin spikes, as it doesnt have to be digested by your body. This stuff simply filters right into your bloodstream and goes wild.
The problem is that your body cant digest most sugar alcohols, so they travel to the large intestine where they are metabolized by gut bacteria.
Truvia Natural Stevia Sweetener
It is very challenging to choose the best sweetener as a diabetic. That is the reason Truvia made items intended to diminish sugar, not taste. The spotless, sweet savour in Truvia Spoonable Natural Stevia Sweetener originates from the Stevia leaf. Regardless of whether you spoon it, pour it or sprinkle it, this Spoonable container is incredible for estimating the perfect measure of your sweetener.
It can be consumed by people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes without any problems.
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The 5 Best Sugar Substitutes
Wouldnt it be sweet if you could eat sugar without worrying about health consequences? Well, you can. You just have to choose the right sugar.
Heres the deal: processed sugars can be toxic to the body. Beyond providing nothing but empty calories, refined sugar is highly addictive, causes blood sugar levels to spike, interferes with nutrient absorption, and even has been linked to contributing to heart disease, weight gain and other degenerative disease. But theres no need to live a sugar celibate life.
Swapping out the white stuff for another minimally processed, more natural sugars could be better for your bodyand your recipes. There are alternatives to the processed regular sugar that provide some surprising benefits. While still sugar, these alternatives sweetners are much easier for the process and boast a range of other nutrients and health benefits.
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You should know that insulin can help you manage your diabetes and prevent further damage to your kidneys. If youre suffering from diabetes, its important to consult a doctor to make sure that youre a good candidate for the condition. If youre looking for more information, you can read about the various types of diabetes available, as well as how to get a free online health assessment. In many cases, its possible to avoid a doctors visit by doing simple exercises. If youre not familiar with the signs and symptoms of diabetes, you can read online articles about the condition and learn about its treatment.
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Granulated Sugar Alternatives: Date & Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar and date sugar are common paleo sugar substitutes. People not following the diet also use them as a natural healthy sweetener option.
- Coconut Sugar Coconut sugar is made from coconut palm sap, which is dehydrated to make granulated coconut sugar. It does retain a small amount of nutrients from the sap, and has a small amount of inulin, which can support gut health and slow down blood sugar spikes . However, it still has a high glycemic index of 54 and is as high in calories as conventional table sugar.
- Date Sugar Date sugar is one of the least processed sweeteners. Its the ground-up equivalent of whole, dried dates, so it retains a lot of the vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients of the dried fruit. It has a glycemic index of 42, which is lower than many nutritive healthy sweeteners, but still fairly high. On the negative side, date sugar does not melt or dissolve, and has a strong date taste that doesnt work well in all recipes.
Both of these options are more natural and better than white table sugar. However, they do not make suitable keto sweeteners for diabetics.
Best Options For Diabetes
People with diabetes have to be careful about their sweeteners many raise blood sugar, or glucose, levels and cause spikes of the hormone insulin. However, natural sweeteners, such as stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol, tend to raise blood glucose levels less and contain fewer calories than sugar.
Also, research in animals indicates that monk fruit or swingle extract may help prevent some diabetes complications, according to the
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