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Sugar and Sugar Substitutes - Trick Or Treat?


All carbohydrates, both complex and simple, affect blood sugar. While complex carbohydrates increase blood sugar slower and simple sugars can more easily spike blood sugar, the most important factor for those with diabetes is the total amount of carbohydrate you have. Diabetes educators agree that sugars can included in your meal planning.

For any healthy diet, the American Dietary Guidelines suggest no more than 8 to 10 teaspoons per day of added sugars. Furthermore, the added sugar content of candy, desserts, and sodas can cause you to easily exceed the recommendations of both the dietary guidelines and your carbohydrate-conscious diet.

A small-sized Halloween treat bag or bar averages 2 to 3 teaspoons of added sugar , a single chocolate bar has about 6 teaspoons, and single serving package of Skittles has whopping 11 teaspoons of sugar. In order to healthfully consume foods with sugar:

- Keep added sugars to a smallest amount. Eat small portions and make it a one time in a treat.
- Make sure to keep track of your full amount carbohydrates. If you must have a sugary treat, be sure to control other carbohydrates in your meal plan.
- When possible, suit your sweet tooth without added sugar. Fresh fruit is naturally sweet and contains fiber as well as minerals, vitamins and other phytonutrients that are good for your health.

Sugar Alternatives

Sugar substitutes can help offer the treat without the "trick." For candies, gums and mints, the most regularly used substitutes are sugar alcohols. Ironically, sugar alcohols contain neither sugar nor alcohol. Produced from other carbohydrates, sugar alcohols contain smaller amount calories and are not digested like other sugars -- resulting in less impact on your blood sugar. Some common sugar alcohols or "-ols" are mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol, lactitol, xylitol, erythritol, and isomalt.

Sugar substitutes such as aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame potassium (Sweet One), saccharin (Sweet 'n Low), and stevia (a food supplement) can also let you to enjoy the sweet taste you love without the effects of sugar (as do reduced/no-calorie blends like Diabi-sweet).

These sugar substitutes are used to cut back the sugar content in packaged goods and are simply recognized in supermarkets and on tabletops in their blue, yellow, and pink packaging. Whichever you choose, the FDA, the American Dietetic Association, and the American Diabetes Association consider all of them safe and effective substitutes for sugar. When including any sugar choice in your diet, remember:

- Carbohydrates and calories still count. "No-sugar" does not mean totally no carbs or calories!
- For sugar alcohols, you may take away one-half the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label from the carbohydrates
- Make sure to eat foods with sugar alcohols in moderation, especially until you are sure of your personal tolerance limits. GI distress and a laxative effect can happen with excessive consumption.
- Hot and cold beverages are perfect places to switch out sugar with sugar substitutes.
- When cooking or baking, be sure to use a "baking blend" or a sugar substitute such that can withstand high temperatures.

Healthy Low Sugar Treats!

Substituting "empty" sugar calories with sugar substitutes and no-added sugar treats can make it easier to keep your diabetes diet in check. Fulfilling your sweet tooth with homemade good-for-you treats is even better!

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