Artificial Sweeteners and Diabetes

Learn about the sweetener options that can help you manage diabetes, including sucralose (Splenda), Truvia, fructose and more.

By Ted Spiker from Reader's Digest Magazine, | November 2008

Truvia, the much-hyped natural, no-calorie sweetener, is just one of several sugar substitutes on supermarket shelves. Here’s the scoop on this and other options you stir into your coffee.

Natural Sweeteners
Truvia is a granular substance made from the stevia plant; agave syrup comes from the agave plant. Unlike natural sugar, Truvia has no calories, but some say the taste is too licorice-like. Agave has 20 calories per teaspoon but sweetens more effectively than sugar, so you use less.

Pros and Cons
They’re an option for those who want to avoid artificial ingredients while watching their weight. Be aware that the body expects calories to follow sweetness, so (as with all sweeteners) you may keep craving more.

Artificial Sweeteners
Sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Equal), and saccharin (Sweet’N Low) are made of various chemicals that simulate the sweetness of sugar.

Pros and Cons
All are essentially calorie-free. Some people are concerned about possible associations with cancer. However, the National Cancer Institute says there’s no clear evidence of a link. They’re generally considered safe for healthy people. But a recent study shows diet soda drinkers tend to gain weight, not lose it. So if you have concerns about these sweeteners anyway, avoid them.

Sugars
Sucrose and fructose are carbohydrates that come from the sugarcane plant as well as from fruits, maple syrup, and corn syrup. Keep your intake to under 40 grams (about 10 teaspoons) of sugar a day. That’s about one can of Coke. Remember that any unburned amount will turn to fat, and consistently high amounts may lead to insulin resistance.

Pros and Cons
Anyone with health problems like obesity or prediabetes should cut down on sugar. Stick with whole fruits, and try to wean yourself off sweet junk foods.

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