As the prevalence of diabetes continues to rise globally, finding suitable sugar alternatives has become a priority. Diabetics must be mindful of their sugar intake, as it can cause spikes in their blood sugar levels, leading to further health complications. Fortunately, several sugar alternatives can help diabetics satisfy their sweet tooth without compromising their health. In this blog, we will explore some of the best sugar alternatives for diabetics, including the benefits of each option, as well as their impact on blood sugar levels. Whether you’re a diabetic or simply looking to reduce sugar intake, we will provide valuable insights into many good healthy sugar alternatives for diabetics.
What are high-intensity, non-nutritive sweeteners?
High-intensity, non-nutritive sweeteners are sugar substitutes that are several times sweeter than regular sugar but contain few or no calories. Manufacturers often use these artificial sweeteners in low-calorie and sugar-free products, such as diet sodas, sugar-free gum, and processed foods. Some common examples of high-intensity, non-nutritive sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. Regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) generally consider these sweeteners safe, but controversy persists regarding their potential health risks and safety.
Controversies With High-Intensity, Non-Nutritive Sugar Alternatives
High-intensity, non-nutritive sugar alternatives, also known as artificial sweeteners or chemical sweeteners wholesale, have been controversial for decades. While some consider them useful for weight loss, management and blood sugar control, others have raised concerns about their safety and potential health risks.
Controversy #1: Aspartame and Cancer
There is a possible link between aspartame and cancer. In animal studies, rats fed with aspartame developed lymphomas and leukemias (blood cancers). One study found that mice that consumed large amounts of aspartame had higher rates of liver and kidney tumors than those who did not consume it. While these results are not conclusive in humans, they raise questions about the safety of using this product regularly in your diet.
Controversy #2: Effects on Gut Health
Consuming artificial sweeteners such as sucralose or stevia leaf extract, especially in large quantities over time, can negatively impact gut health. Some, people with diabetes may experience digestive issues such as bloating or gas after artificially sweetened beverage consumption; others might notice changes in their bowel movements after eating sweet foods with these additives.
Controversy #3: Effects on Weight Management
Some studies have suggested artificial sweeteners can help people lose weight by reducing calorie intake, while others argue that they actually have the opposite effect by making people crave more sweets.
The debate over high-intensity, non-nutritive sugar substitutes is a complex one. The subject of other artificial sweeteners has split public opinion, with some people believing these substances are safe. The government regulates their use in food products but doesn’t require manufacturers to label them as artificial sweeteners if they don’t want to. Health organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) have issued guidelines for using these ingredients in moderation and recommend limiting your intake of added sugars overall.
These controversies don’t mean we have to give up sweetness altogether. Fortunately, various best sugar alternatives can satisfy your craving for something sweet without destabilizing your blood sugar levels.
The Best Natural Sweeteners As Sugar Alternatives
What’s the best sweetener for diabetics, you may ask. Look no further! Here are the best alternative sugar for diabetics:
Stevia is the healthiest sweetener that is derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It has zero empty calories per gram, zero carbohydrates, and a glycemic index of zero, which means it doesn’t raise blood glucose levels. Stevia is also much sweeter than sugar, so only a small amount is needed to sweeten foods and beverages. Stevia is available in various forms, including liquid, powdered form, and granular, making it easy to use in different recipes.
Monk Fruit Sugar Alternatives
Monk fruit sweetener, also known as Luo Han Guo, comes from a Southeast Asian plant with a large berry and people have used it for hundreds of years in Chinese medicine as a natural sweetener. The monk fruit juice extract is a calorie-free and carb-free sugar replacement, making it one of the best alternatives to white sugar and honey. Since the monk fruit extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar, it requires only small amounts to achieve the same level of sweetness as sugar-based products.
Erythritol, a sugar alcohol
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. It has 70% of the sweetness of sugar but only about 6% of the calories. Erythritol has a zero glycemic index, doesn’t cause tooth decay, and it’s safe for diabetics and people with candida overgrowth. The body doesn’t digest erythritol well, so it passes through the body unchanged, which means that while it has no calories, it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels.
Erythritol is also non-GMO and gluten-free, making it one of the best sugar alternatives in baking for those who want to avoid artificial ingredients.
Xylitol is another sugar alcohol found naturally in some fruits and vegetables. It has about the same sweetness as other sugar alcohols but only about 40% of the calories. Xylitol has a low glycemic index, of 13, which is much lower than sugar’s index of 65. It also has some dental benefits, as it can reduce the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay. It is commonly used in chewing gums and mints.
This prebiotic fiber has a mildly sweet taste, occurs naturally in many plants, including chicory root, and serves as a sugar substitute. It has a glycemic index of 0, which means it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. It’s also a soluble fiber, which can help improve digestion and promote gut health.
Allulose is one of the natural sugar alternatives that is made from fructose and glucose. It has the same sweetness as sugar, but has zero calories. Allulose is not metabolized by the body, which means it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels or cause weight gain. It’s also very gentle on your stomach and safe for diabetics because it doesn’t cause an insulin spike like other sugars. The only downside to allulose is that it has a remarkably similar flavor as maple or high fructose corn syrup together. This means you can’t use it in place of table sugar in baking recipes without changing the taste profile of the food.
Yacon syrup is a sweetener that is extracted from the roots of the yacon plant, which is native to South America. It also contains a type of soluble fiber called fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which can help promote digestive health. Yacon syrup has a slightly sweet and molasses-like flavor and can be used as a substitute for other natural sweeteners, foods as maple syrup or honey.
Sugar alcohols are a class of sweeteners that have gained popularity in recent years. They’re often made from natural sources like fruits and vegetables but also manufactured in a lab. Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners, containing 30 to 80 percent fewer calories than table sugar, but are less sweet, requiring higher quantities for the same level of sweetness. Sugar alcohols also have some side effects that may or may not concern you. Some people feel queasy when consuming them, while others experience gas and bloating.
Is coconut sugar better for diabetics? You may ask. The sap of coconut palms provides this natural sweetener, which has a caramel-like flavor and contains nutrients such as iron, zinc, potassium. It can be used as a natural sugar substitute or as a substitute for brown sugar in recipes.
Date sugar, which has a sweet and fruity flavor, is produced by grinding up dates. It’s a natural sweetener containing fiber and nutrients like potassium and magnesium. Nevertheless, it’s not very soluble in liquids, and it’s ideal for use in recipes that require a dry sweetener.
Pure maple syrup is a natural sweetener that is made from the sap of maple trees. It has a lower glycemic index than sugar and contains some antioxidants and minerals, such as manganese and zinc. Maple syrup, which has a rich and sweet flavor, is an option to substitute sugar in recipes. Nevertheless, it is still a source of calories and should be consumed in moderation.
While these sugar alternatives may be suitable for diabetics, it’s important to use them in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine the best options for your needs. Diabetics use these alternatives in various recipes as a great way to enjoy sweetness without compromising their health.