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.
How Sugar Substitutes Stack Up
We put them to the test by baking cakes.
There are plenty of reasons to avoid fructose and its even more vilified twin, high-fructose corn syrup.
For athletes, these sweeteners provide much-needed energy. For the rest of us, they’re high-calorie, zero-nutrition temptations that can lead to obesity and a host of related conditionsdiabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease.
When sugar has a rap sheet like this, alternative sweeteners start to look appealing. For diabetics, most of these substitutes don’t cause the dramatic blood sugar spikes associated with the real thing. For weight watchers, zero calories are a dieter’s boon.
But which to choose? There are scores of sugar substitutes; most fall into one of four categories: natural sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, dietary supplements, and sugar alcohols. And there’s a new hybrid sweetenertagatosethat is natural and has fewer calories than sugar.
As a category, natural sweeteners are a less processed, better-for-you-option than fructose. Like sugar, they produce energy when metabolized by the body. Unlike sugar, they have some nutritional value in the form of trace vitamins and minerals.
There’s agave from the eponymous plant, honey , molasses, and the syrup family . Over the years I’ve performed enough tests to know that while there are taste and textural differences, most of these more distinctive sweeteners are fine stand-ins for sugar.
Brand names: Sunett, Sweet One
What Is The Healthiest Sugar Substitute For Table Sugar
First it was splenda, then it was stevia, next came xylitol and erithritol, and now it’s allulose. But, one must ask, are these sugar alternatives even healthy?They barely check the box of natural, but that’s only because the criteria for what it means to be “natural” is so vague and misleading.Each new sweetener comes with the same inticing allure zero calories, no impact on blood glucose, and undigestible “good for you” fiber!Take the energy and proetin bar market as an example.Many manufacturers have formulate products around the idea that isomalto-oligosaccharide is a non-digestible carbohydrate that had zero impact on blood sugar.The truth?While true that IMOs are found in certain foods like chicroy root, tapioca, and inulin, the form in commercial production is typically IMO syrups which have a more deceptive impact than their whole food counterparts.This is because the sugars from the natural source are extracted and concentrated to magnify the sweetness component.As a result, IMO syrups have been show to spike blood glucose and can cause digestive distress, especially in those that suffer from small intestine bacterial overgrowth .In summary, the devil is ALWAYS in the details. Feeling a bit unwell after sipping a fizzy beverage or snacking on a protein bar?Check the label to see what type of sweeteners are being used and be especially wary of anything that sounds like a chemical and is difficult to pronounce.
Which Sweeteners Are Best For Cooking
Artificial sweeteners come in granules, tablets or liquid form. Most of them can be used in cold and hot foods, but not all can be used for cooking:
- Aspartame loses some sweetness at a high temperature.
- sucralose and acesulfame-K can be used in cooking and baking.
Only small amounts of artificial sweeteners are needed as they are intensely sweet.
How To Reduce Sugar Intake
For those of you with diabetes, here are some ways to reduce sugar intake that can be done daily:
- Avoid the consumption of processed foods that usually contain sugar, salt, and fats that are quite high in them. For example, cakes, biscuits, and various other snacks.
- Avoid consuming foods or beverages containing added sugars, such as fizzy drinks, sweets, canned fruits, fruit juices plus additional sweeteners.
- Reduce excessive amounts of sugar in the dishes you cook.
- Always read the nutritional value of the packaged food or drink you will consume. This is very important so that you can measure the intake of calories and sugar to be consumed. As much as possible choose foods or drinks that contain low sugar content.
- Consume healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat milk. It is also recommended to consume fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.
Sugars Sugar Substitutes And Sweeteners: Natural And Artificial
If youre living with diabetes, or even if youre not, you might think sweet foods are a barrier to your healthy, balanced diet. As a general rule, everyone should be eating less sugar but sometimes, only something sweet will do.
If want to lose weight, or youre trying to keep your blood glucose levels stable, you may want to know whether artificial sweeteners could help. If you browse around your local supermarket, youll see a huge range of sweeteners on offer, so it can be baffling to know which, if any, to go for.
Sugar Substitutes For Type 2 Diabetes
1 / 6 A Small Amount of Real Sugar Is Best, but Sugar Substitutes Can Help If you think that people with diabetes should always avoid sugar, think again they can enjoy the sweet stuff, in moderation. “The best bet is to use a very minimal amount of real sugar as part of a balanced diabetic diet,” says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City. That being said, sugar substitutes offer sweetness while controlling carbohydrate intake and blood glucose. There are many sugar substitutes to choose from, but theyre not all calorie-free and they vary in terms of their impact on blood sugar. “The major difference between the sugar substitutes is whether they are nutritive or non-nutritive sweeteners,” says Melissa Mullins, MS, RD, a certified diabetes educator with Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Va. “Non-nutritive sweeteners provide no calories and no changes in blood glucose levels, which is perfect for people with diabetes. Here are six sweet options to consider.Continue reading >>
Why Trust Verywell Fit
A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am not always comfortable recommending sugar substitutes. I frequently recommend natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup, but understand that these higher-carbohydrate, higher-calorie options may not work for all individuals. After spending time reviewing the most current clinical research and looking at multiple products, however, I came up with a list of products that I would recommend to someone looking to use a sugar substitute.
Note that the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines recommend that added sugars be limited to less than 10 percent of calories per day. I believe the sugar substitutes in the round-up are made by trusted brands are composed of high-quality ingredients. “Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN
The Less Worse Sugar Substitutes
#5 Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is white sugar with some molasses remaining in it or added back after processing. Yep, its that simple!
And the difference between light and dark brown sugar? The amount of molasses in them. Molasses is also what makes brown sugar soft and moist. Turbinado sugar and evaporated cane juice are essentially less processed versions of brown sugar.
Pros: Because of the molasses, brown sugar offers more nutrients than white, like small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Cons: The nutrients brown sugar contains arent enough to write home about. One ounce contains 0.2 mg of iron, whereas the RDA of iron for the average person is at least 8 mg per day. And it has almost all the negatives associated with white sugar.
#6 Barley Malt
Barley malt is an unrefined sweetener thats made from sprouted barley. It contains 65% maltose , 30% complex carbohydrates, and 3% protein.
Pros: Barley malt isnt as sweet as many other sweeteners. Because it has some complex carbohydrates and a bit of protein, it is milder in its impact.
Cons: Since its high in maltose, barley malt can contribute to rapid blood sugar spikes. Also, barley contains gluten. This makes barley malt inappropriate for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
#7 Maple Syrup
Best known as a pancake topper, maple syrup is a thick, dark sweetener made by boiling down maple tree sap. Im talking about pure maple syrup, not corn syrup imitations, like Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima.
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.
Table of Contents
Artificial Sweeteners: No Better For Those With Thyroid Disease
Besides promoting fat accumulation, artificial sweeteners have been linked with the kind of hypothyroidism known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition.2
In a study presented at the International Thyroid Congress in 2015,2 researchers reported a link between artificial sweetener use and Hashimotos disease. The research team looked at 100 patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and another 125 people with a healthy thyroid, and they found a strong link between use of sugar substitutes and a link to this thyroid condition. They note that sugar substitutes also have been linked with autoimmune problems in animals.
Best Not to Rely on Sugar Substitutes for a Sweet Fix
The evolving research on sucralose and fat accumulation offer an important warning, especially for those who are struggling with undesirable weight gain, says Christopher Gardner, PhD, professor of medicine at Stanford University and director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. The researchers found a plausible mechanism to explain a compelling downside to using artificial sweeteners, he tells EndocrineWeb.
A Diabetic’s Guide To Natural Sweeteners
Many assume that a diabetes-friendly diet lacks sweetness and excitement, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
We spoke with Dr. Thinh Xuan Ho, primary care physician at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group, to share wholesome ingredients and interesting alternatives to make your meals delicious and nutritious. One way you can do this is by using a diabetic-safe sweetener in place of granulated sugar in your favorite recipes.
Organic Coconut Palm Sugar Sweetener
Organic Coconut Sweetener is low on the glycemic index. This implies it doesn’t raise your glucose as fast as refined sugars do, so that you can have the pleasantness of sugar without the related insulin spike. Our Organic Coconut Sugar is USDA natural affirmed, gluten free, non-GMO and genuine. The sweetener is normally seasoned and has a hidden caramel like taste that offers an extraordinary variety. It serves a tasty flavor in your morning mug of espresso or tea or your bowl of oats. The sweetener is made from the nectar of blossoms that develop on coconut trees. Since it is natural, it can hold many of the supplements that other coconut products contain.
A Few Words Of Caution About Sugar Substitutes
There are many sugar substitutes out there that say theyre sugar free. And while this is true, it does not mean that they can be used without moderation.
Just like everyone has to be careful with regular sugar diabetics especially need to be careful when it comes to sugar substitutes.
The no sugar, zero calorie promise on the packaging can cause people to eat more than they would otherwise. And while the sweetener might not contain calories, the other ingredients in the food might.
Eat Dessert to Lose Weight:These 7 Delicious Desserts Melt Off the Pounds
And calories aside, these foods might also contain ingredients that do cause issues with blood sugar and insulin levels. These ingredients, like trans fats, arent something most people think to check for. But when it comes to diabetes, you have to know what youre putting in your body.
For this reason, its usually best to stick with natural alternatives. Theyre typically less processed and are paired less often with other ingredients you want to avoid.
What Is Granulated Sugar
The sugar you usually use every day in addition to food and beverages is cane sugar. This sugar is obtained from sugar cane plants that are processed and heated.
The result of this process is crystals, or more commonly known as granulated sugar. The limit of consumption of granulated sugar in a day according to the Ministry of Health is 4 tablespoons or the equivalent of 148 calories.
And The Best Sweetener Of All Is Fresh Fruit
Whole fruits, mashed or pureed, are another natural sweetener option.
And they have the distinct advantage of actually being good for you.
Many people find that they can satisfy a sweet craving with frozen grapes or berries, a mandarin, a mango, or a banana.
Natural sugars in fruits can calm a sweet tooth. And they come with fiber and many other beneficial nutrients. Mashed bananas or applesauce can also add sweetness to baked goods.
Why Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad For 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 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 sweet foods.
Recommendations For Maximum Sugar Intake For Diabetics
According to medical experts, there are mentions that the intake of sugar under normal conditions is a maximum of 50 grams or the equivalent of 4 tablespoons per day.
Diabetics are recommended to consume no more than 50 grams of sugar per day. These sugars include white sugar, palm sugar, and sugar in other forms. Keep in mind, carbohydrates are also one of the sources of sugar, and diabetics are recommended to consume carbohydrates amounting to 45-65% of the total caloric intake.
Although limited, using sugar or sugar in seasonings remains allowed so long as its not excessive. This is so that diabetics can still eat with the family.
However, diabetics are advised to limit the consumption of foods or soft drinks, sweets, cookies, fizzy drinks, packaged fruit juices, canned fruit syrup, which has fairly high sugar content. Instead, it is recommended to eat natural foods, such as vegetables and fruits.
What’s In The Glass Matters A Lot
The health impact of sugar is even grimmer, at least when you drink it. In a study of 18,000 people across the United States who participated in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study,5 those who consumed the most beverages containing sugarincluding soda , punch, fruit-flavored drinks, and fruit juiceshad the greatest risk of dying from heart disease and other causes.
These individuals were followed for nearly seven years. and the findings held after the authors controlled for smoking, age, body weight, alcohol use, income, region of the country, and level of physical activity. The rate of death was highest, nearly double, that of people who consumed the least amount of sugar-laden drinks.5
What to do? It will take time to adjust so transition slowly and think creatively.
“Try to find beverages that satisfy your thirst and deliver in flavor but without the sugar or sugar substitutes,” says Jodi Godfrey, MS, RD, a registered dietitian in New Jersey, “Lemon, lime and fruit-flavored iced teas offer another good option.” For those who like soft drinks, flavor seltzer with lemon, lime, or a splash of your preferred juice. “An ounce of cranberry or orange juice will provide a hint of the taste you are looking for so let a little go a long way,” she says.
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 doctor on the amount that’s right for you.
What Are The Problems With Eating Too Much Sugar
Blood sugar imbalances caused by excess sugar intake can manifest in different ways.There are the obvious ones that take time to develop like insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity.And there are the less obvious silent symptoms that often go overlooked or attributed to something else.These silent symptoms do more damage than you may realize. Fluctuating mood swings, volatile energy levels, and unexplained inflammatory responses are more than just an annoying part of life.These are usually just the first signals we receive as a cry for help.Just like a “check engine” light on your vehicle, these indicators could be a warning signal that larger health concerns are looming on the horizon if left ignored.More obvious symptoms might be headaches, fatigue, and uncontrollable food cravings impact us in different ways, most notably the quality of day-to-day life.Several other chronic conditions that can be triggered by high sugar intake are as follows:- Low Immunity- Stress Increase
Drawbacks Of Using Substitutes
Some studies show that eating foods with zero-calorie sweeteners may have the opposite effect intended and may promote weight gain. For instance, some research shows that an increased intake of very sweet substitutes may boost ones desire for sweetened foods. Theres also no telling what the long-term impact of consuming sugar substitutes may have on the body and overall health.
Certain substitutes may have immediate concerning effects on the body. Some people, for instance, may have allergic reactions to specific substitutes. Other individuals complain that alternatives like aspartame cause headaches and may act as a trigger for migraines. Several sugar substitutes also cause gastrointestinal distress.
The Role Of Sugar In Baking And Cooking
Regular or table sugar is known for its sweetness and its calories and carbs. Sugar gets a bad rap and is blamed for many major health problems such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes. But all cooks and bakers know that sugar is an invaluable ingredient in helping to ensure foods not only taste good, but also have the right texture, color, and volume. Sugar does more than just make foods and beverages taste good. In baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, and brownies, sugar creates a light, tender product and adds volume. It also helps trap and hold moisture so that those chewy chocolate chip cookies dont immediately turn into hockey pucks. Sugar also helps with browning and can crystalize to add crunch or texture to baked goods. If youre a bread baker, you probably know that sugar helps to feed the yeast that provides leavening. When sugar is heated, it caramelizes, forming the basis for caramel sauce or flan. And who doesnt appreciate the beauty of a flaming baked Alaska dessert or lemon meringue pie with its frosty white peaks, formed by egg whites beaten with you guessed it sugar!
Sugar also plays a role in cooked dishes to help smooth out bitterness and tartness. For example, spaghetti sauce, barbeque sauce, and some salad dressing recipes often call for a little bit of sugar to help tame sharp flavors.
Stevia A Natural Sweetener Option
Steviol glycosides are sweeteners derived from the leaf of the stevia plant, which is native to Central and South America. Truvia and Pure Via, both brands of stevia-based sweetener, are calorie-free, and stevia is often used as a sweetener in foods and beverages. According to the 2019 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes, , nonnutritive sweeteners, including stevia, have little to no impact on blood sugar. The FDA has approved the use of certain stevia extracts, which it has generally recognized as safe .
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center notes that people have reported side effects, like gastrointestinal symptoms, after eating high amounts of stevia. But to date, there is no solid scientific research to prove these claims.
The FDA recommends an ADI of 4 mg or less of Truvia per kilogram of body weight per day. A 132-lb individual would need to consume nine tabletop packets of the artificial sweetener per day to reach that limit.
The Findings Clearly Demonstrate That Intense Sweetness Can Surpass Cocaine Reward Even In Drug
While sugar addiction is a real thing, theres nothing wrong with a little sweet indulgence every now and then! Like most things in life, it’s all about balance. What many don’t realize is how addicted to sugar they actually are.And it’s not an easy habit to kick.For sake of this analogy, you can break a cocaine addiction by changing who you hang out with, but breaking up with sugar is painfully more difficult.Think about it.You can’t go to a gas station, grocery store, or even office supply store without seeing the checkout isles lined with sugar-filled candy bars, sodas, and packaged foods.And, the worst part?The vast majority of “natural” and healthy foods that line our supermarket aisles are no different.And, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.After all, just a handful of companies control the majority of our food supply.
If you really think Nestle, Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Kraft, and Kellog have your best interest in mind and want the best for your health…think again.Your dopamine sensors are constantly triggered and fuel your desire for junk food. While no amount of willpower can withstand the endless temptation that we all face daily, a little education and changing the way you fuel your body can make a massive difference!It starts by understanding that not all sugars are created equally.Read to the end of the article to learn how to choose the best natural sugar alternatives for your health and lifestyle goals.
Breaking It Down: Types Of Sugar
For the chemistry buffs, heres a quick bit of context: Sugars are also known as simple carbohydrates. They digest quickly, releasing sugars into your bloodstream.
Each type of sugar has its own set of problems:
- Glucose is the most rapidly metabolized by the body and can send your blood sugar levels skyrocketing. It has a glycemic index score of 100 .
- Fructose has no impact on insulin production or blood glucose levels. It also has a relatively low glycemic index score. But it must be metabolized by the liver and is associated with elevated levels of triglycerides, metabolic syndrome, and weight gain.
- Sucrose is crystalized white sugar, from the cane sugar plant, and it consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
Best Sugar Substitutes For Diabetics
Natural non-nutritive sweeteners such as monk fruit, erythritol, and stevia are the best sugar substitutes for diabetics. Artificial non-nutritive sweeteners should be avoided or only used sparingly. According to some studies, artificial sweeteners are believed to be a prime reason for the development of type 2 diabetics.
Monk fruit, erythritol, and stevia are also the best sweeteners for brain health.