If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be wondering what sugar substitutes you can use. It’s smart not to rely too much on sweeteners, but to get used to eating small amounts of fruits that are naturally sweet. If you need a little bit of sweetener, however, there are some good options out there.
Having diabetes, you still have a sweet tooth that you want to satisfy. There are natural ways to satisfy it, like figs, apples, grapes, and other fruits. You may think to try other options such as honey or agave nectar, but these are just as bad a sugar when it comes to affecting your blood glucose levels.
Baking with diabetes can be even more of a conundrum. You can use artificial sweeteners, but you’ll need to use less of them than you would regular sugar since artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than regular sugar. Use trial and error to get the amounts just right, and know that your goodies will come out slightly different than if you had used sugar.
Americans consume artificial sweeteners often, even when we are unaware of it. Over 40 percent of people in the U.S. consume no-calorie sweeteners each day. Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, Sweet & Low, and Equal are controversial. These artificial sweeteners have no nutritive value, and many of them pass through the body without being digested. However, they can have detrimental effects.
Studies in people with diabetes have shown that these kinds of sweeteners may do more harm than good, leading to an altered gut microbiome and inflammation. Other studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can actually increase the risk of obesity and diabetes by altering the way certain genes work to break down fats and proteins. These sweeteners make you feel like you are having a sweet treat when you are actually not, leaving your body craving more sweets in the end.
Top 5 natural sugar substitutes
Here are the top five natural sugar substitutes to use for type 2 diabetes:
- Stevia. Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the Stevia plant. It adds sweetness to foods without adding calories or spiking your blood sugar. It can be found in most grocery stores, and can be consumed as powder, extract, or flavored drops. Make sure it’s 100 percent natural with no added fillers.
- Monk fruit extract. Monk fruit is a natural sweetener that won’t change your blood sugar levels. Popular in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this choice may be an acquired taste. Read the label to make sure there are no added ingredients.
- Xlear/Xyla (Xylitol). This sugar alcohol compound is found in fruits and vegetables. It can be sourced from birch trees or plant fiber. Other sugar alcohol options include sorbitol, mannitol, and isomalt. These are a healthy sweetening option, but they do contain small amounts of sugar and carbs, so be sure to consume them in moderation.
- Yacon syrup. This natural sweetener for diabetes comes from the roots of the yacon plant from South America. It’s high in fiber, helping to balance blood glucose levels. It’s thick and sweet, and a good option to use when baking.
- Unsweetened applesauce. This easy-to-come-by option is great for baking or sweetening oatmeal or other foods. It contains sugar, but only natural sugar from apples that won’t throw off your levels unless consumed in large amounts.
With all sweeteners, it’s important to consume them in moderation. Let your taste buds adjust to the sweetness of natural fruits. Additionally, sweeteners will affect everyone differently. Listen to your body, keeps tabs of your blood sugar levels, and know when you’ve had too much.