The 4 Safest Sugar Substitutes And A Few To Avoid Completely
The best and safest sugar substitutes are erythritol, xylitol, stevia leaf extracts, and neotamewith some caveats:
- Erythritol: Large amounts of this sugar alcohol sometimes cause nausea, but smaller amounts are fine. Erythritol, small amounts of which occur naturally in some fruits, is about 60 to 70 percent as sweet as table sugar and has at most one-twentieth as many calories. Unlike the high-potency sweeteners, erythritol provides the bulk and mouthfeel of sugar.
- Xylitol: This sugar alcohol, which occurs naturally in birch and some other plants, is about as sweet as table sugar and has about three-quarters of the calories. Too much xylitol could produce a laxative effect and/or gastrointestinal distress.
- Stevia leaf extracts: Stevia leaves have long been consumed in Japan, and we rate the extracts made from those leaves as safe, although additional safety tests should be conducted. Thats because some short-term tests found that some stevia-related substances caused mutations and other changes in DNA, yet stevia has been tested for cancer in only one species instead of two species, as usually recommended.
- Neotame: We also rate this among the safest sugar substitutes, but taste problems limit its use.
What about sucralose?
We rate sucralose as caution. The same lab that found that aspartame caused cancer also announcedbut has not yet publishedits findings that sucralose caused leukemia in mice that were exposed to it from before birth.
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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Natural Sugar: Raw Honey Maple Syrup Agave Nectar Raw Sugar
The good news is that natural sweeteners provide a few more nutrients than table sugar. The bad news? Theyre all still forms of sugar and are high in calories, so use no more than 1 to 2 teaspoons per day, Taylor says.
Raw honey and pure maple syrup both contain antioxidants and have prebiotic oligosaccharides that help feed gut flora. Raw honey has an added benefit of vitamins E and C as well as minerals. Note: Honey should not be given to infants because it may contain botulism bacteria spores, a serious health hazard for babies.
When hitting the grocery store, read all food labels for hidden ingredients because commercial maple syrup brands often contain high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose diets are linked to long-term metabolic complications like insulin resistance, belly fat accumulation and high triglyceride levels. When in doubt, stick primarily with pure maple syrup.
Agave nectar provides fewer nutrients than raw honey or pure maple syrup. It should not be given to infants because it is not pasteurized.
Agave nectar has the same number of carbohydrates and calories as table sugar, but you get a lot of flavor from a small amount, Taylor says. Since agave nectar has a slightly lower glycemic index but still contains sugar, it will still raise your blood sugar.
Bottom line, when it comes to your waistline, weight and blood sugars, all natural sweeteners behave like sugar.
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Find The Best Sugar Substitutes For Diabetics
You frequently hear how bad sugar is for you and may wonder, what is the best natural sweetener for diabetes? Whether you are using the sweetener for coffee, tea or baking, the U.S Food and Drug Administration approved six non-nutritive sweeteners that are not sugar. These are the best sweeteners for diabetics: saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, neotame and advantame. What about stevia for diabetics? Stevia is also a part of the list of natural sweeteners that people use and is safe for diabetics.
Here we will go through the list of the best sweeteners for diabetics and the brand names that are associated with them.
Dont Drink Sports Drinks Unless Youre An Endurance Athlete
Exercise is great for managing type 2 diabetes, but skip sports drinks, which are high in carbohydrates. One 8 oz serving of Powerade, for example, packs about 19 g of carbs, notes the USDA, and thats not even the whole bottle.
Dietitians only recommend sports drinks for endurance athletes, who may exercise strenuously enough to need salt and nutrient replacement. Sports drinks are usually not necessary unless someone has been very active for over an hour, Zanini says.
Water is sufficient to keep you hydrated for moderate exercise. You can also plan on a healthy postworkout snack that provides you with some carbs and protein, such as an apple with a bit of peanut butter or a hard-boiled egg and an orange. These options will give you the protein and carbs you need to kick-start your exercise recovery without spiking your blood sugar.
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What Sweet Things Can A Diabetic Eat
If you are anything like me, you probably like most of your desserts to be sweet. Savory desserts can be awesome as well, but its hard to beat a sweet dessert to end a great meal.
I have written a very detailed guide to the best sweeteners for people with diabetes that covers most of the natural and artificial sweeteners on the market. I highly recommend reading it, but if you only want the cliff notes, my favorite sweetener that doesnt impact blood sugar is Stevia.
Sugar and sugar substitutes will obviously affect your blood sugar and artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols can have unwanted side effects .
The recipes in this roundup use either Stevia or get their sweetness from other ingredients like fruit and berries.
What Are The Benefits Of Sweeteners
Besides being calorie-free, one of the biggest benefits of sweeteners is that they have a very low glycemic index and have no effect on your blood sugar. This means that they do not cause blood sugar levels to spike in the same way that sugar does.
|· Available in packets or granulated form
· Added to packaged foods and beverages
*The sweetness index rates the sweetness of a substance in relation to table sugar, which has a sweetness rating of 1. The sweetness index of all other substances measured relative to this number.
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What Are Some Other Sweet Options
Monk fruit extract is another alternative that is gaining popularity. But no processed sweetener can beat using fresh whole fruit to sweeten foods.
Another excellent option is date sugar, made of whole dates that are dried and ground. It doesnt provide fewer calories, but date sugar is made of the whole fruit with the fiber still intact.
You can also subtract fiber from total grams of carbohydrates, if you count carbs for meal planning. This will give you net carbs consumed. The more fibrous a food, the lower impact it will have on your blood sugar.
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The Best Sweeteners For People With Diabetes
I am often asked about what the best sweeteners are for people with diabetes and what can be used as a replacement for sugar that wont raise blood sugar. Thats why I have created this in-depth guide to natural and artificial sweeteners for people with diabetes.
I get a little frustrated when reading or hearing outright incorrect claims and marketing spin about how some of the natural and artificial sweeteners affect your blood sugar.
As a person with diabetes, I want to know exactly what will happen to my blood sugar when I eat or drink something, and I dont take kindly to half-true marketing claims.
Ive decided to focus on which natural and artificial sweeteners are good for people with diabetes as it relates to impact on blood sugar, rather than on whether they are healthy choices in general since I think that is somewhat out of my domain and because plenty of others have already covered that.
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Sugar Free Diabetic Recipes
Believe me, if you are diabetic, it certainly doesnt mean a life without tasty treats!
Our meal plans provide great sugar free desserts options to you every week and there is lots you can do.
Check out this carob choc slice!
I served this at a family meal recently and the whole thing got gobbled up!
So living without sugar is possible and actually very enjoyable once you get used to it.
Try one of our meal plan subscriptions and take the whole stress out of eating
P.S. What sweetener do you use? Or maybe now youve read this youll change itwhat to?
Sucralose The Most Popular Sugar Substitute
This sweetener is excellent for people with type 2 diabetes. Thats because Splenda is 600 times sweeter than sugar, yet those little yellow packets have no effect on blood sugar, says Keri Glassman, RD, CDN, of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City.In addition, Splenda passes through the body with minimal absorption. These attributes have helped it become the most commonly used artificial sweetener worldwide, according to an article published in October 2016 in Physiology & Behavior.
The Food and Drug Administration , which has approved sucralose, recommends an acceptable daily intake of 5 milligrams or less of sucralose per kilogram of body weight per day. A 132-pound individual would need to consume 23 tabletop packets of the artificial sweetener per day to reach that limit.
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Why Should You Use Sugar Substitutes
Wondering why it might be wise to avoid added sugar and use substitutes instead? Excess sugar consumption is not just bad for your teeth, its also associated with high rates of diseases like diabetes. Pure sugar is high in carbohydrates, which can cause unwanted spikes in blood glucose levels.
Sugar is also high in calories without having much nutritional value, so substitutes are useful for those seeking to lose weight.
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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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.
Fewer Calories But Do They Yield Great Results
Editors note: Good news! Since publishing this post, weve introduced our Baking Sugar Alternative, a 1-to-1 substitute for granulated sugar designed specifically for baking success.
Have you ever wished there was such a thing as zero-calorie baking? I sure have. What if that piece of pie, cupcake, or blueberry muffin added no calories at all to your daily diet?
OK, pipe dream. But what if you could at least reduce the calorie count of the sweetener you use in your frosted layer cakes, chocolate chip cookies, fudge brownies and more? Id be all for that wouldnt you?
Ive been spending extra time perusing the sugar shelves in the baking aisle of my local supermarket lately. After all, sugar can add a ton of calories to your cookies and cakes are there any good alternatives?
Can you easily reduce the calories in your baked treats just by using a natural sugar replacement?
Understand Im not talking alternative sweeteners here.* Honey, agave, maple syrup, molasses, turbinado, take your pick all are sugars and have similar calorie counts. Im also not referring to baking sugars based on artificial sweeteners like sucralose , aspartame, and saccharin.
*Interested in baking with honey and other liquid alternatives? See this post: Baking with liquid sweeteners.
Instead Im zeroing in on two so-called natural sugar replacements: Swerve® and Truvia® Cane Sugar Blend .
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Ways To Enjoy Sweets Without Added Sugar Or Sugar Alternatives
- Add a splash of unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond milk to your coffee
- Grate some carrots into your tomato sauce or bake some moist carrot muffins
- Slice some roasted beets into your salad or bake into a chocolaty red velvet cake.
- Add a splash of fresh orange juice to your homemade salad dressing, or your French toast batter.
- Stir some pineapple chunks into your stir-fry or top your chicken or fish with sliced pineapple or orange before baking.
- Defrost frozen berries and add, still warm, to a bowl of oatmeal or mix into plain yogurt, and sprinkle with diced walnuts.
- Top your burgerbeef, turkey, salmon, veggiewith caramelized onions.
- Dates, not terribly appealing to most of us on their own, have great qualities for replacing cane sugar in your favorite baked recipes try brownies, peanut butter pie, or no-bake cheesecake.
- Prepare your pancake batter with some unsweetened applesauce or grated apple.
As a last resort, Stevia, plant-based alternative sweetener, offers a very concentrated sugar like flavor when none of the options above work for you just go sparingly and use only occasionally. The more you rely on intense added sweeteners, the more you may crave them and nothing else.
Dr. Sen and Dr. Gardner have no financial disclosures.
Why Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad For People With Diabetes
Some artificial sweeteners say sugar-free or diabetic-friendly, but research suggests these sugars actually have the opposite of effect.
Your body responds to artificial sweeteners differently than it does regular sugar. Artificial sugar can interfere with your bodys learned taste. This can confuse your brain, which will send signals telling you to eat more, especially more sweet foods.
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Is Stevia Good For Diabetics
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,
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.
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Should I Avoid Sugar Altogether
We all know we need to eat a healthy, balanced diet thats low in saturated fat, sugar and salt to keep our weight, cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure in check. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate and because all carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels, reducing your sugar intake can help to keep blood glucose levels under control. As sugar contributes no nutritive value, apart from carbohydrates and calories, it has empty calories and so is not good if youre looking to manage your weight. This doesnt mean that people with diabetes should have a sugar-free diet. In fact, its almost impossible to have a sugar-free diet in the long term. And, its also worth remembering that products labelled sugar-free arent necessarily low-calorie.
Does Monk Fruit Raise Blood Sugar
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.
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