Sweetener Information For Diabetics

March 13, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

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If you are searching for answers about sweeteners, search no further. Here you will find a list of common sweeteners, what they are and where they are found or used.

Nutritive Sweetners

Nutritive sweeteners are defined as sweeteners that have a significant calorie count.

Sucrose: This is the technical term for white, refined sugar. White sugar is made from either sugar cane or sugar beets. Very common and not very expensive for purchase. Can be found in many popular beverages and foods throughout the grocery stores and other outlets. Diabetics should avoid using too much white sugar in any of their foods or beverages.

Glucose: Not as sweet as sucrose and used predominantly in candy to allow the smooth textures to hold up under high cooking tempatures. Glucose is acceptable for diabetic use or ingestion, as long as it is used/eaten in moderation. Since it is not often found in foods, it is more easily avoided.

Fructose: Has a higher sweetness taste in cold beverages and other liquids. Has the same sweetness as sucrose in warmer liquids, though. Used to enhance fruit flavors in foods containing fruit or artificial fruit flavorings. This sweetener should be avoided when possible as it is added in higher amounts to cooked/baked foods than sucrose or other sweeteners. Often seen as ‘high-fructose corn syrup’.

Honey: Made by bees, high sweetness factor, comparable to sucrose. Used often in home recipes, but is popular in commercially made foods and drinks now. Honey is natural, but diabetics should limit their use of it, as it can cause a spike in blood glucose, much like sugar.

Lactose: Low sweetness, natural sugar found in milk. Used as a filler in commercial applications along with other more intense sweeteners. Not unsafe for diabetics, but can cause digestive upset if your are lactose intolerant.

Sorbitol: A sugar alcohol. Half as sweet as sucrose, not absorbed well by the body. Can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea if ingested in large quantities. Should be avoided if possible to reduce chanes of stomach upset.

Mannitol: See Sorbitol.

Xylitol/Malitol: Sugar alcohol, nearly the same sweetness as sucrose. Used in candies and other foods such as baked goods. As with Sorbitol and Mannitol, they are not absorbed completely by the body and if ingested in large quantities can cause the same discomforts. Since it is not absorbed well it is lower in carbohydrates, but still should not be used in large amounts.

Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate: A complex chain of polysaccharides and hydrogen placed under high pressure and heat making a stable complex sugar alcohol. Used in many candies. Safe for dieters and diabetics in normal, everyday foods.

Non-nutritive Sweetners

A non-nutritive sweetener is a sweetener without calories.

Saccharin: 200 to 700 times sweeter than sucrose, but has been reported to have a ‘funny’ after taste. Very popular with dieters and diabetics, used in many beverages. Proven safe in small amounts, but should not be used in large quantities, like any chemical.

Aspartame: Amino acids linked together (two). The amino acids break apart in heat so can only be used in cold applications. Recent studies have suggested a link with aspartame usage and certain tumors/health problems. Cannot be used by people who have phenylketonuria. Should be avoided by everyone.

Acesulfame K: 200 times sweeter than sugar and can be used in cooking applications. An organic salt that is sweet. Considered safe for daily use.

Sucralose: 600 times sweeter than sugar. Can be used in all cooking applications. Often stated as ‘made from sugar’ though that fact has been contested lately. Some opponents suggest it is not as safe for consumption as claimed. More studies are being conducted. Can be used daily according the the U.S. FDA.

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6 Responses to “Sweetener Information For Diabetics”
  1. Thanks Kevin, but you know, there are some people who might fit into the rat species. Ha!

    There is so much information out there concerning aspartame and peeople who claim they’ve had health related issues, I thought it might be best to recommend avoiding it. I’ll do some research and see what I can come up with to post an informational, un-biased review.

  2. Kevin says:

    The link between health problems and Aspartame is an urban myth, no foundation in science. It is the most studied food additive in the world. No associated health problems with ingestion, unless you’re a lab rat and eat several pounds of it……

  3. Julie says:

    Hi guys, thanks for the comments.

    I didn’t include the natural sweeteners, like agave and stevia in this post as I was trying to offer information on sweeteners found in commercial foods most often.

    I wrote a post regarding Stevia, but I plan to make another list of natural sweetners for readers to refer to. Any suggestions for natural sweeteners to add to the post would be great.

    And agave is great, we used to use it at Jamba Juice in smoothies!

  4. Dusty says:

    What about stevia? I have been using it for about 5 years without any problem.

  5. Loretta says:

    julie, Great info! I am not diabetic, but have some in my family and am always trying to accomodate when they visit. Have you ever heard of Agave Nectar? It comes from a cactus plant, tastes really good and is said to metabolize quite slowly. It is a little on the pricey side, but what are you gonna do? There are several sites, but check this one out when you get a moment. www.shakeoffthesugar.net/article1042.html

    Thanks again. Loretta

  6. marye says:

    what about stevia?

    I hate the extract, but NOW does a white powder that is excellent. Of course when you go into Starbucks and start measuring out oon your spoon they get a little weird, but as long as you keep your nose, or straw, away from it I think you’re good.
    Great info by the way..I am going to link to it on my substitutions page on Baking delights. 🙂

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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