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Diabetes Diet - Sweeteners and Diabetes

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Sweeteners and Diabetes

By Nina Nazor

Can you eat sugar if you have diabetes?

You can include some sugar in your diet if you have diabetes, as long as you stick to the diet plan your nutritionist draws up for you. What you need to know is that sugar is absorbed very quickly and can raise your glycemia (blood sugar) immediately. That is why sugar is the ideal treatment for the hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that can occur quite frequently in people with diabetes.

For several years now, however, several different kinds of sugar substitutes (sweeteners) have been available on the market. Some of these do not raise blood sugar, while others do. It is therefore very important to know which is which and how to take advantage of them when you want to eat something sweet without running the risk of raising your blood sugar.

What are sweeteners?

Sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, are products used to sweeten food.There are nutritious ones and non-nutritious ones, in other words, ones that contain calories and others that do not.

Generally, the ones that contain calories (the nutritious ones) come from natural sources. They include sucrose (regular white sugar), honey, corn syrup, brown sugar, and fructose (fruit sugar). With the exception of fructose, all of these will raise your blood glucose, which is why we recommend you limit your intake of these foods.

Calorie-free sweeteners (the non-nutritious ones), on the other hand, are industrially processed products. They include saccharine, aspartame, sucralose, and acesulphame K.

Are they safe to use?

Saccharine, aspartame, sucralose, and ace-suphame K have all been approved by the FDA, and you can use them quite safely. Others, such as stevia and the cyclamates, have not been approved. You should also be aware that some sweeteners, such as sorbitol and mannitol, which are used in many products for people with diabetes, can cause diarrhea if you eat large quantities of them.

In short, sweeteners add taste to food, but remember that if you have diabetes, you should avoid the natural ones like sucrose or white sugar, because they raise your blood glucose levels. Opt for artificial sweeteners instead, such as sucralose, which in addition to providing a good taste, can help you control your weight and your glucose levels.