Facts About Sugar Substitutes That You Probably Did Not Know And Which Diabetics Should Use

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Most Diabetics think that they must always avoid sugar, but this is not true in most cases. According to Every Day Health, "they can enjoy the sweet stuff, in moderation." Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN further notes that a "very minimal amount" of real sugar is best for the diabetic diet. For this reason many people with Diabetes turn to sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners for sweetness as well as to maintain carbohydrate and ideal blood sugar levels. However, not all sugar supplements are made the same and some can be potentially harmful. 

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One of the main differences of artificial sweeteners is whether they are "nutritive" (provide nutrients) or "non-nutritive" (lack nutrients). The most popular sweeteners include saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved stevia, neotame, and acesulfame potassium as appropriate substitutes. Out of these six, stevia is the newest approved sweetener and is becoming widely used throughout the Diabetic community. 

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Saccharin is sold under the brand name Sweet’N Low and has been found to be 200 to 700 times sweeter than sugar. Although many diet foods contain saccharin, a 1970 study associated the product with bladder tumor growth in rats. Nevertheless, the National Cancer Institute and FDA have since concluded that saccharin does not pose a risk for bladder cancer in humans. Hence, it is considered a safe sugar substitute for type 1 and type 2 Diabetics. 

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Aspartame is sold under the brand names Equal and NutraSweet and is also sweeter than sugar (about 180 to 200 times). Although many reports have linked aspartame to health conditions ranging from depression and headache to cancer, researchers have not found that the sweetener poses any health risk to people. However, aspartame is not considered an ideal option for cooking because high heat reduces its sweetness. 

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Splenda is the brand name for sucralose which is a whopping 600 times sweeter than sugar. Often directly substituted in recipes, the FDA has approved use of sucralose for both types of diabetics (Type I and Type II).

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More than 90 studies showed acesulfame (also known as Sunett and Sweet One) to be safe and is commonly used for baking.

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8,000 times sweeter than sugar, neotame is closely related to aspartame, but generally not widely used in the United States. 

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Stevia is sold as Truvia, PureVia, SweetLeaf, and raw Stevia. This substitute is natural and in fact derives its sweetness from a stevia plant and is 250 to 300 times sweeter than real sugar. You should know that until recently, the FDA had banned stevia because of concern that it might cause reproductive problems in lab animals. But, late in 2008, the FDA approved the purified part of the stevia leaf.

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When baking, add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract for every 1/2 cup of sugar substitute used in a recipe to enhance flavor. For the best quality and flavor, choose pure vanilla extract. KidneyBuzz.com appreciates your continued support so that we can offer you daily news coverage on important issues like the one discussed in this article. For that reason we encourage you to purchase the new Life Management and Diet Guide called Fight Kidney Disease and Diabetes. Do not forget to sign-up for your FREE monthly Newsletter, for must-see information, games and more.   

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References: 

Shafer, Jessie. "Healthy Baking: Sugar Substitutes." Http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/. Meredith Corporation.

Dennis Thompson Jr.; Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH. "Safe Sugar Substitutes for People With Diabetes." Http://www.everydayhealth.com/. Everyday Health Media, LLC.