Carb Vs Sugar: How To Understand Nutrition Labels
Growing up with Type 1 diabetes meant that much of my young life was spent hearing the quote you cant eat sugar. Typically, it was because it is the first thought people have when it comes to diabetes. But there is so much more than sugars. Total carbohydrate grams are what help tell the whole story.
Myth: Carbohydrate grams dont matter. Sugar grams are the only thing that increases blood sugar.
Fact: Both sugar grams and carbohydrate grams have a direct impact on blood sugar.
How your body works
The foods we eat break down when digested and much of what we eat breaks down into glucose. . Insulin is needed when we eat anything that breaks down into glucose the insulin either comes from your pancreas, or you need to take insulin from a pump/shot.
Where this gets tricky is that its easy to think that glucose is sugar only, which is not the case. What makes it even more confusing is that they are both on the nutrition label and we know that is where we are supposed to look for our carbohydrate information.
Understanding Nutrition Labels
Carbohydrates are actually comprised of three nutrients: carbohydrates, fiber, and sugar. You may, and will see, foods that are very low in sugar but high in carbohydrate.
What Is A Lot Of Sugar Per 100g
0g is considered zero.
Total sugar includes any form of sugar, including sucrose , glucose, fructose, maltose, and lactose. It also includes sugar alcohols such as mannitol and sorbitol. Sugar alcohols do not contribute to blood glucose levels but do play other roles within our bodies. For example, mannitol is used during surgery to reduce the amount of fluid that builds up around tissues by blocking water absorption through the kidneys and lungs.
The amount of sugar in foods varies depending on how it is prepared. The more processed the food, the higher its sugar content will be. For example, cookies, cakes, and candies contain large amounts of sugar. Cooking doesn’t change the amount of sugar in foods that contain natural sugars such as fruit. You can eat cooked or raw fruits and both types of foods contain about 99% water and 1% sugar. The remaining 3% is fiber.
Sugar comes from plants only if they are chemically modified into another substance called “polysaccharide”. These polymers consist of many molecules of glucose linked together.
Natural And Artificial Sweeteners
It can be confusing to group together sweeteners as the terminologies are open to interpretation. For instance, some products from the stevia plant are marketed as natural, even though theyre processed and refined. Yet, some of the other products marketed as artificial sweeteners may be derived from naturally occurring substances. For example, sucralose, which is used in Splenda, is derived from sugar . Whatever the name, grouping or terminology, its important to ask what is in the particular sweetener and whether the sweetener or product has carbohydrate or calories, and how that fits into your individual goals for healthy eating.
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How Much Sugar Per 100g Is Ok For Diabetics
On the nutrition label, look for the Carbohydrates of which sugar figure. Products are classified as high or low in sugar if they exceed or fall below the following thresholds: More than 22.5g of total sugar per 100g is considered excessive. 5g or fewer of total sugars per 100g is considered modest.
For people with diabetes, added sugar should make up less than 10% of your daily calories intake. This means that you should consume no more than 27 teaspoons of added sugar a day. One teaspoon contains 4g of sugar.
The amount of sugar in foods varies because the nature of different products causes them to contain either more or less sugar per 100g. For example, unrefined white sugar is composed of several molecules of glucose bonded together. Refined white sugar is pure glucose. Both contain 16g of sugar per 100g. Brown sugar has been processed from raw brown sugar which usually contains some residual amounts of other nutrients such as fiber. White rice and white flour products are also refined carbohydrates with only one molecule of glucose bonded to each water-soluble fiber molecule. Maltose and lactose are two simple sugars found in milk and dairy products that do not need to be broken down into individual sugars before they are absorbed into our bodies. They can be consumed by people with diabetes.
Honey is liquid sugar.
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What You Need To Know About Diabetes Is 2g Of Sugar A Lot For A Diabetic
One of the most common signs of diabetes is excessive thirst. You may also feel more hungry and pee more than usual. Its important to check your blood sugar as soon as you start to notice these symptoms. If your blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dL, you should immediately eat 15 grams of carbohydrates. Then, check it again fifteen minutes later. If you cant eat that much carbohydrate at once, you can try oral glucose.
Despite the many complications of type 1 diabetes, you can still find ways to manage it. By reading about diabetes, youll be better prepared to live a healthy and happy life. You can avoid diabetes by making healthy choices. In fact, there are many treatments available for type 1 diabetes. In some cases, a patient may even experience an improvement in their overall health after the transplant. In some cases, you can even reverse your diabetes through a simple procedure.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type. Most people with type 1 diabetes have type 2 diabetes. They both require insulin to regulate their blood sugar. If youre overweight, you may have type 2 diabetes. If youre concerned about diabetes, its important to learn about it. Your doctor can provide you with more information on your condition, including tips on how to cope with it. You should never be afraid to ask questions. Just remember, youll have to answer them. Youre not alone.
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Can I Eat Sweets And Other Foods And Drinks With Added Sugars
Yes, you can eat sweets and other foods and drinks with added sugars. However, you should limit your intake of these high-carbohydrate foods and drinks because they are often high in calories and low in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans are wiser choices.
Instead of eating sweets every day, try eating them in small amounts once in a while so you dont fill up on foods that are low in nutrition. Ask your dietitian or diabetes educator about including sweets in your eating plan.
Finding Sugar On Nutrition Labels
You might have noticed that added sugar in those menus is highest in healthy items, such as whole-grain cereal, stir-fry, spinach salad with dried cranberries, and popcorn.
Added sugar lurks in processed foods, dried fruit, sauces, and condiments. That means you have to learn to be a better label reader and know the various forms of sugar so that you can identify them, says Chicago-based dietitian and chef Sara Haas, RDN, LDN.
Check your pasta sauce, ketchup, peanut butter, and basically anything else in a jar.
Sugar has many aliases, such as high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, malt syrup, sucrose, confectioners sugar, dextrose, agave, and maple syrup. The list goes on.
The good news is that counting added sugar in grams is getting easier, thanks to changes in food label requirements. Many products already include an indented line for added sugars under the total sugar amount.
By 2020, companies with more than $10 million in revenue will be required by law to include the total added sugar in grams. And by 2021, companies with less revenue will be required to follow suit.
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Cottage Cheese With Tomatoes
This is one of those snacks you would reach for if its been 2 or 3 hours since your last meal, says Zanini. Top 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with a whole sliced tomato for a healthy dose of protein, fat, and calcium. Since its so low in carbs and hydrating, it will not raise blood sugar levels, she says. Whats more, tomatoes contain lycopene, a disease-fighting phytonutrient that gives red tomatoes their vibrant red pigment.
Harm: High Blood Pressure
Usually, salt gets the blame for this condition, also called hypertension. But some researchers say another white crystal sugar may be a more worrisome culprit. One way they believe sugar raises blood pressure is by making your insulin levels spike too high. That can make your blood vessels less flexible and cause your kidneys to hold onto water and sodium.
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Drugs Approved For Type 2 Diabetes Treatment
The treatment of type 2 diabetes has been transformed in the past decade with the introduction of new medications, drug classes, and treatment approaches. These advances offer diabetics a wider range of combination therapies able to provide tighter glycemic control over the long term.The approved medications are broken down by drug class, each of which offers different mechanisms of action.DPP-4 InhibitorsDipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors work by blocking the DPP-4 enzyme which destroys the hormone incretin.Incretins help the body produce more insulin when needed and reduce the amount of glucose being produced by the liver when it is not needed. There are currently five DPP-4 inhibitors approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration :Galvus Incretin MimeticsAs per their name, incretin mimeticswork by mimicking the action of incretins to stimulate the production of insulin. They also slow the rate of digestion so that glucose enters the blood more slowly.There are five incretin mimetics currently approved by the FDA which are delivered by injection and used in people who have not been able to control their blood sugar with oral medications:Byetta Tanzeum Lyxumia Also known as GLP-1 receptor agonists, the drugs are used in combination with oral medications and come in prefilled injector pens.They are not insulin or to be used in place of insulin.Selective Sodium-Glucose Transporter-2 Continuereading
The Science Of Diabetes Reversal
In 2019, the American Diabetes Association stated that reducing carbohydrate intake was the most effective nutritional strategy for improving blood sugar control in those with diabetes.18
Research shows that low-carb diets are a safe and effective option for treating type 2 diabetes. This body of evidence includes systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials .19
A meta-analysis from 2017 found that low-carb diets reduced the need for diabetes medication and also improved certain bio-markers in people with type 2 diabetes. This included reductions in hemoglobin A1c , triglycerides, and blood pressure and increases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, sometimes called the good cholesterol.20
Additionally, in a non-randomized trial from Virta Health, the intervention group of subjects with type 2 diabetes followed a very low-carb diet and received remote monitoring by physicians and health coaches. After one year, 94% of those in the low-carb group had reduced or stopped their insulin use. Furthermore, 25% had an HgbA1c in the normal range without needing any medications, suggesting their disease was in remission, and an additional 35% did the same with only metformin.21
At the two-year mark, a high proportion of subjects continued to demonstrate sustained improvements in glycemic control.22
This evidence suggests that type 2 diabetes does not have to be a progressive and irreversible disease. It is clearly a treatable disease.
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Should I Limit The Amount Of Sugar I Consume
Because of the health risks associated with added sugars, its recommended that you watch your sugar intake.
The World Health Organization recommends:
- Adults and children should reduce their intake of sugar to less than 10% of their total daily energy intake. On average, this equals about 12 teaspoons of sugar per day for an adult. This include all added sugars, as well as the naturally-occurring sugars in honey, fruit juices, syrups and fruit-juice concentrates.
- Reducing your intake to less than 5% of total energy intake would provide even more health benefits.Read the nutrition panel on the food label. If the total sugar exceeds 15g of sugar per 100g of the food, check the list of ingredients to see if any added sugars are high on the list. For more information, see Where do I find added sugars on food labels?, below.
Use In Cooking And Baking
Because many sugar substitutes are much sweeter than sugar, it takes a smaller amount to achieve the desired sweetness. Therefore, when cooking or baking, your recipe may need to be adjusted if youre swapping white table sugar for a sweeter alternative.
While the sweetener package may have specific instructions for cooking and baking, this may come down to trial and error , or you can search for specific recipes that use sugar substitutes or natural sweeteners in place of white sugar.
A few other things to be aware of when cooking and baking with alternative sweeteners:
- Your baked goods may be lighter in color as natural sugar browns more deeply when baked and artificial sweeteners dont brown as nicely.
- Cooking time may need to be adjusted.
- There may be a texture or aftertaste youre not used to.
- The volume of cakes or cookies may be slightly decreased as youre using much less sweetener.
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Added Sugars Vs Natural Sugars Big Difference
Its very important to make the distinction between added sugars and sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables.
These foods contain water, fiber, and various micronutrients. Naturally occurring sugars are absolutely fine, but the same does not apply to added sugar.
Added sugar is the main ingredient in candy and abundant in many processed foods, such as soft drinks and baked products.
The most common added sugars are regular table sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
To optimize your health, do your best to avoid foods that contain added sugars. Even the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from added sugars to less than 10 percent of total calories per day .
Also, remember that added sugars can also include natural sugars. For instance, if you add honey to your oatmeal, your oatmeal contains added sugar from a natural source.
Sugar thats added to processed foods is much more harmful to your health than the natural sugar in whole foods like fruits and vegetables.
- Men: 150 calories per day
- Women: 100 calories per day
To put that into perspective, one 12-ounce can of Coke contains 140 calories from sugar, while a regular-sized Snickers bar contains 120 calories from sugar.
In contrast, the US dietary guidelines advise people to limit their intake to less than 10% of their daily calorie intake. For a person eating 2,000 calories per day, this would equal 50 grams of sugar, or about 12.5 teaspoons .
How Much Sugar Can You Eat If You Have Diabetes
There is no set limit for people with diabetes, though general dietary recommendations say to limit added sugars to less than 10% of your daily calories. The most important thing is to track your carbohydrate intake and account for them in your diabetes management plan. Work with your healthcare provider on the amount that’s right for you.
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Nutritional Composition Of White Bread
The table below shows the several nutrients found in bread and their respective quantities.
Below listed are some safe and healthy bread options for diabetic patients:
Whole wheat bread
Whole wheat grain bread is a better choice over polished or refined wheat bread. The processes of refining the grains take off all the healthy fibers and nutrients present in the grains.
100% whole wheat bread is good over white flour bread. It is safe for diabetics and contains lesser harmful carbs and calories.
Unlike white bread, whole-grain wheat bread does not have added sugars either. This is proof that the carbohydrate availability in 100% wheat bread is comparatively lower.
You can also get organic whole wheat bread for diabetics. They are specially manufactured to supply better nutrients to the body. The slices are made thinner to keep the calories lower in comparison to the regular bread slices.
Flaxseed is a great nutritional addition to ones diabetic diet. Be it the seeds directly, flaxseed oils, flours, etc., they are all healthy and beneficial for the health.
Flaxseed flour is also increasingly used to make bread and baked goods. Its flour is almost absent of carbohydrates and hence, is the best for your blood sugar levels. The bread made from this flour also has the maximum parts of goodness.
Flaxseed enriches the body with protein, good fats, and lots of fiber.
Almond flour bread
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What Happens If You Eat Too Much Sugar
While the body needs sugar for energy, too much is detrimental to your overall health. On average, U.S. adults are consuming far too much added sugar. The average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, or 68 grams. Extra sugar is stored as fat, which leads to weight gain, a risk factor for many chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Studies link eating too much sugar to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A high intake of refined carbohydrates has also been linked to metabolic syndrome, which is marked by myriad conditions including obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels. Further, the USDA cites evidence that a diet low in overall added sugar is associated with reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Simply put, added sugar contributes zero nutrients but 4 calories per 1 gram. Over time, these “empty calories” add up and are inevitably stored as fat, leading to weight gain and increased risk of many chronic diseases.
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