Nutrition Q&a: Sugar Alcohols Are No Panacea For Diabetes
Question: I have Type 2 diabetes. I like to have low-sugar nutrition bars handy for snacks or missed meals, so I’ve begun buying bars that contain sugar alcohols. What do you think about these bars and sugar alcohol in general? Answer: I’m glad you asked. You’re not alone. “Lots of my clients are confused by foods labeled ‘sugar-free’ and containing one or more of these foreign-sounding ingredients with an ‘ol’ ending,” says Lise Gloede, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and owner of Nutrition Coaching, a private practice in Arlington. For people with diabetes, the topic of sugars and sweets is steeped in outdated advice and misconceptions that linger. And new products are showing up on supermarket shelves to catch the eyes of a growing market. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that 29 million people in the United States have diabetes and another 86 million people, one in three U.S. adults, are estimated to have prediabetes. Let’s start with current guidance about sweets, then get to sugar alcohols. Historically, sugary foods were forbidden for people with diabetes. The notion was that calorie-containing sweeteners such as sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc., and foods containing them, raised blood glucose quickly — and faster than starchy foods and other sources of carbohydrates, such as fruit and milk. Then in the late 1980s, research punched holes in this theory, which eventually led to significant changes in the American Diabetes Association recommendation in the mid-1990s. This is the ADA’s basic recommendation: People with diabetes can substitute some sugar and foods containing sugars without affecting their glucose or blood fat (lipid) levels. But, a critical caveat: People are advised to make Continue reading >>
Shopping List For Diabetics
Control Type 2 Diabetes, Shed Fat Our Shopping List for Diabetics is based on the Pritikin Eating Plan, regarded worldwide as among the healthiest diets on earth. The Pritikin Program has been documented in more than 100 studies in peer-reviewed medical journals to prevent and control many of our nation’s leading killers – heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, metabolic syndrome, and obesity as well as type 2 diabetes. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, pay special attention. Research on newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics coming to the Pritikin Longevity Center illustrate how profoundly beneficial early intervention can be. Scientists from UCLA followed 243 people in the early stages of diabetes (not yet on medications). Within three weeks of coming to Pritikin, their fasting blood sugar (glucose) plummeted on average from 160 to 124. Research has also found that the Pritikin Program reduces fasting insulin by 25 to 40%. Shopping List for Diabetics – More Features Here’s another big plus to our Shopping List for Diabetics. In addition to icons that are diabetes-focused like “sugar free,” this list uses icons like “low cholesterol” and “low sodium” because many people with diabetes are working to control not just diabetes but related conditions like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. This list can help you identify those foods most advantageous in helping you reach your personal health goals. Diabetic Food Taboos? Not Anymore! Have you been told you have to give up juicy watermelon or sweet grapes? What if we told you those foods really aren’t taboo? Watch the Video Our Healthy Shopping List for Diabetics also lists the top 10 things to put back on the shelf if you’re trying to: Lose Weight Lower Blood Pres Continue reading >>
Can Diabetics Eat Sugar Free Candy?
One of the most persistent myths is that sugar is off limits to people with diabetes. In reality, if you have diabetes, you can enjoy foods like desserts provided you keep within an overall healthy eating plan. But be wary of claims about sugar-free products like candy. They may have a few less carbohydrates, but often they have just as many calories and fat. In addition, they may contain sources of carbohydrates other than sugar. Sugar-free candies can also cause stomach upset. To safely enjoy sugar-free candy, you need to plan ahead and ensure you stay within the guidelines set by your health care provider or dietitian. Video of the Day Sugar Free Is Not Carb Free You may think sugar-free candy is a healthier alternative. You may need to think again, and you definitely need to read the label. All sugar-free foods are not created equal. Some sugar-free candy is not lower in carbs than the regular version. In addition, sugar isn’t the only kind of carbohydrate. Sugar-free candy may contain starch, fiber, and mostly likely a sugar alcohol. Harvard’s Joslin Diabetes Center says sugar alcohols aren’t technically “sugar” but can be high in carbohydrates. Bottom line -- there’s no substitute for being fully educated on everything that’s in the food you’re eating. The American Diabetes Association says you don’t have to rule out candy, provided you work it into your meal plan. For example, you could have candy as a substitute for another carbohydrate-containing food. This will help keep your blood sugar steady and prevent you from feeling deprived. Remember, candy has little nutritional value. The idea is indulge once in a while, in moderation and so as not to exceed your total calories and carbohydrate goals. The association’s website for children with di Continue reading >>
Do Sugar-free Snacks Really Save Carbs And Calories?
Diabetic Living / Food to Eat / Nutrition Do Sugar-Free Snacks Really Save Carbs and Calories? Sugar-free foods add flexibility to your diabetes meal plan, but they're not a free ride. We gathered a sampling of no-sugar-added, sugar-free, and reduced-sugar items from the supermarket to compare nutrition per serving and price with the regular (sugar-containing) versions of these foods. Find out how to count them and when they're smart picks. When people discover you have diabetes, they may proudly offer you sugar-free versions of favorite treats, such as cocoa and cookies. But sugar-free claims don't mean these items are carb- or calorie-free. They often contain other ingredients with carbohydrate -- such as milk, flour, or fruit -- that count toward your carb allowance. Government labeling rules dictate that sugar-free products must have less than 0.5 gram of sugar in a serving, and no-sugar-added foods can't contain added sugar. To add sweetness without sugar, some of these products use sweeteners called sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, which contribute to the carb count but not as much as sugar. Many products also contain no-calorie sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium, which don't provide carbohydrate. In many cases, sugar-free and no-sugar-added foods offer significant carb and calorie savings, making them smart choices. But sometimes these foods cut your carb intake only slightly and may cost more, too. And if you simply prefer the taste of the regular version of the food, you may find a smaller portion of it is just as satisfying as a full serving of the sugar-free option. Sugar alcohol sweeteners typically have names that end with "ol," such as sorbitol and maltitol. Our bodies don't absorb sugar alcohols very well, so on average t Continue reading >>
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Why Some Sugar-free Products Raise Blood Sugar
In the latest “Really?” column, Anahad O’Connor explores why some foods labeled “sugar free” may still raise blood sugar. The culprits are sugar alcohols that are sometimes paired with artificial sweeteners. He writes: Sugar alcohols get their name from their structure, which looks like a cross between a molecule of alcohol and sugar but is technically neither. Companies have added them to more and more “sugar free” products, like cookies, chewing gum, hard candy and chocolate. For people trying to manage their blood sugar, this can make interpreting nutritional labels a little tricky. While sugar alcohols provide fewer calories than regular sugar — in general about 1.5 to 3 calories per gram, compared with 4 calories per gram of sugar — they can still slightly raise your blood sugar. To learn more, read the full column, “The Claim: Artificial Sweeteners Can Raise Blood Sugar,” then please join the discussion below. Continue reading >>
If I Have Diabetes, Will I Have To Stop Eating Sugar?
What is that saying? Everything is good but only in moderation? Well this rings true when it comes to eating sugar with diabetes too. You probably already know that eating a lot of sugar is not great for your body. The problem is that sugar comes in a natural form and in an added form, so sometimes you have no idea that you are consuming it. Also, it is in many foods that you don’t even think to consider. Foods that you think are healthy, such as tomato sauce and protein bars, are packed full of sugar. This article breaks down the facts about eating sugar with diabetes and how you can make the best choices for your body in order to effectively manage your diabetes. How does sugar impact the blood sugar levels? Normally, when you eat something that contains sugar, your pancreas releases insulin. This insulin partners up with the sugar molecules and together they enter into the cells and provide energy to your body. When you have diabetes, your body either isn’t making enough insulin anymore, or your body is resistant to the insulin that you are creating. This prevents the sugar from being used by your cells and it just hangs out in your bloodstream causing high blood sugar levels. Having sugar in your bloodstream can lead to many problems and is dangerous for your health. Sugar, which is also known as carbohydrates or glucose, is found naturally in many different foods such as dairy, fruits, and starchy vegetables. It is also added to many foods like pastas, grains, baked goods, processed foods, and beverages. Since liquids are digested faster, they increase your blood sugar faster than solids do. More about what contains sugar is found later in this article. The myth about sugar and diabetes There are many myths about diabetes in general. One of the biggest ones is Continue reading >>
Sugar-free Labels Can Be Deceptive
The only thing I thought I knew about diabetes in the beginning was that I was not supposed to have sugar anymore. Other than that I was completely ignorant. The idea of never eating another chocolate-covered almond threw me into a real pity party. Then one day I was standing at the pharmacy counter waiting for a prescription. Looking around I saw rows of candy with “sugar free” in big letters on the packages. People with diabetes could still have candy? Wonderful! I grabbed a chocolate bar and stuck it in the bag with my diabetes medicine. That candy bar did not make it home. I ate it in the car. It was delicious, with no bitter aftertaste and no guilt. If you have tried sugar-free candy, you know what happened later. In a few hours I had awful stomach pains and gas. My first thought was, “what is diabetes doing to me now?” The problem was not diabetes. It was maltitol. Maltitol and sugar-free labels Many of us with diabetes have learned the hard way about sugar alcohols like maltitol. These modern sweeteners are usually made from sugar by fermentation or chemical reactions. Because it is no longer considered sugar, maltitol can be added to things like candy and other desserts to make them “diabetes friendly.” The makers can claim their product is sugar free. Sugar alcohols are popular because they have no bitter aftertaste like most other artificial sweeteners. But I’ve stopped buying sugar-free candy with maltitol. Here is why: At 2.1 calories per gram, maltitol has a little over half the calories of sugar (which is 4 calories per gram). But maltitol syrup has a glycemic index of 52, which is not that much better than table sugar’s glycemic index of 60. What does that mean to you? Your pancreas perceives maltitol as sugar, raising your insulin needs. Continue reading >>
The Dieter’s (and Diabetic Person's) Guide To Buying Chocolate
How can you get your daily chocolate fix -- and eat less sugar or calories, too? That's a million-dollar question that several companies are banking on people asking. Over the past few years, the sugar-free and portion-controlled chocolate market has exploded. There are all sorts of sugar-free versions of favorite chocolate bars. And you can now buy individually wrapped chocolate bars or sticks in 60- to 100-calorie portions, along with the ever-popular kisses. To help you decide among all the options out there, we taste-tested a number of sugar-free chocolate products (and some portion-controlled ones, too). But first, let's talk about how having a little chocolate every day could actually be good for you. Can Chocolate Really Be Good For You? Yes, it's true -- chocolate does appear to have some health benefits. Though more research needs to be done, studies have indicated that cocoa and darker types of chocolate may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, decrease blood pressure, and relax blood vessels. Many of the health benefits of chocolate seem to stem from the antioxidant flavanols (a type of flavonoid), which are also found in other plant foods including tea, grapes, grapefruit, and wine. The cocoa bean happens to be extraordinarily rich in them. The flavanol content of chocolate depends on the flavanol content of the cacao plant used, and the way the cocoa was turned into chocolate. But here are three general rules of thumb: Cocoa powder and baking chocolate contain more flavonoids than dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has more flavonoids than milk chocolate. White chocolate has none. Of course, there's a catch to all this -- you don't want to cancel out all these potential health benefits of dark chocolate and cocoa by eating too many calories or too mu Continue reading >>
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Reading Food Labels: Tips If You Have Diabetes
Food labels can be an essential tool for diabetes meal planning. Here's what to look for when comparing food labels. When you have diabetes, your diet is a vital part of your treatment plan. Of course you know what you're eating — a turkey sandwich, a glass of skim milk, a sugar-free fudge pop. But do you pay attention to the details, such as calories, total carbohydrates, fiber, fat, salt and sugar? Reading food labels can help you make the best choices. Start with the list of ingredients When you're looking at food labels, start with the list of ingredients. Keep an eye out for heart-healthy ingredients, such as whole-wheat flour, soy and oats. Monounsaturated fats — such as olive, canola or peanut oils — promote heart health, too. Avoid unhealthy ingredients, such as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. The main (heaviest) ingredient is listed first, followed by other ingredients used in decreasing amounts. Consider carbs in context If your meal plan is based on carbohydrate counting, food labels become an essential tool. Look at total carbohydrates, not just sugar. Evaluate the grams of total carbohydrates — which includes sugar, complex carbohydrates and fiber — rather than only the grams of sugar. If you zero in on sugar content, you could miss out on nutritious foods naturally high in sugar, such as fruit and milk. And you might overdo foods with no natural or added sugar, but plenty of carbohydrates, such as certain cereals and grains. Don't miss out on high-fiber foods. Pay special attention to high-fiber foods. Look for foods with 3 or more grams of fiber. When counting carbohydrates, if a food has more than 5 grams of fiber, you can subtract half of the total grams of fib Continue reading >>
I Have Type 1 – Diabetes What Can I Eat?
From the moment you are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes you are likely to be faced with what seems like an endless list of new tasks that need to become part of everyday life – injections, testing, treating a hypo, monitoring and eating a healthy, balanced diet. No wonder it can all seem so daunting and overwhelming. One of your first questions is likely to be “what can I eat?” But, with so much to take in, you could still come away from appointments feeling unsure about the answer. Plus, there are lots of myths about diabetes and food that you will need to navigate too. If you’ve just been diagnosed and aren’t sure about what you can and can’t eat, here’s what you need to know. I've just been diagnosed with Type 1 – what can I eat? In one word... anything. It may come as a surprise, but all kinds of food are fine for people with Type 1 diabetes to eat. In the past, people were sent away after their diagnosis with a very restrictive diet plan. This was because the availability of insulin was limited and the type of insulin treatment was very restrictive. As insulin treatments have been developed to be much more flexible, the days of “do's and don'ts” are long gone. The way to go nowadays is to try and fit the diabetes and insulin around the same healthy, balanced diet that is recommended for everyone, with lots of fruit and veg and some food from all the food groups. Is there anything I should avoid? Before your diagnosis of diabetes, it is likely that you experienced an unquenchable thirst. It is a good idea to avoid sugary drinks and fruit juices as a way of quenching thirst. They usually put blood glucose levels up very high and very quickly – which is why they can be a useful treatment for a hypo (low blood glucose levels). Instead, drink water, Continue reading >>
Is Sugar-free Candy The Best Choice If You Have Diabetes?
If you have diabetes you may feel like sugar is your enemy. But when you have a hankering for something sweet, is sugar-free candy a healthy option? Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy In this Q and A, registered dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDE , answers our questions and discusses what you need to know about sugary treats and other foods that use sugar substitutes. Q: Should people with diabetes eat candy with or without sugar? A: About 90 percent of your diet should focus on healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, poultry and fish. There is wiggle room in a healthful diet for treats like sweets whether you have diabetes or not. That is where candy would fit. You should enjoy your food — and food also has social, emotional and physical health benefits. Built into the recommended dietary guidelines is room for getting up to 10 percent of your calories from sugar every day. Treats affect your blood sugar. So if you have diabetes , it’s important to focus on portion control and moderation when you select these foods. In other words, you can eat treats even if you have diabetes. But you need to account for the carbohydrate and calorie content they provide in your diet whether they are sugar-free or not. Q: How much sugar should you allow in your daily diet? A: Everyone with diabetes is different, but here’s what the American Heart Association recommends: No more than 25 grams of added sugar (about six teaspoons or 100 calories) daily for women No more than 36 grams (about nine teaspoons or 150 calories) of added sugar per day for men Q: How does sugar-free candy affect your body? A: Some sugar Continue reading >>
''free'' Foods For Diabetes
In diabetes meal planning , blood sugar control is the main goal. Typically, people with diabetes are advised to follow carbohydrate-controlled diets in order to minimize blood sugar spikes and manage their disease . Since many foods contain carbohydrates, this can be a challenge. One must learn not only which foods contain carbohydrates , but how to control those portion sizesand divide the carbohydrate foods appropriately into meals and snacks for the day. Our Best Articles, Delivered Get expert advice on Diabetes from our coaches and trainers During this process of learning and planning, you mayalso hearabout "free foods."In the diabetes world, ''free''foodsare defined as foods (or drinks)that contribute a very small amount of carbohydrates and are also very low in calories. There are two categories of ''free'' foods. Category #1: Even thoughthis group iscalled "free," people with diabetes cannot eat them with reckless abandon (the name is slightly misleading). Rather, these foods are considered "free" because when eaten in specified portions, they do not need to be added to a person's allotted carbohydrate amount for a meal or snack. That's because these particular foods, although they may contain a small amount of carbohydrates, have a very minimal impact on blood sugar levels. In order for a food or drink to be in this category (and not count as a carbohydrate food in diabetes meal planning), it must contain fewer than 5 grams of carbohydrates and less than 20 calories per serving. These foods should be limited to no more than 3 servings per day, spread throughout the day. If all three servings were eaten at the same meal or snack, the food would in fact impact (raise) your blood glucose levels. Refer to the serving sizes listed in the charts below--not the food Continue reading >>
The Best Sugar Substitutes For People With Diabetes
With a low to no calorie sugar count, artificial sweeteners may seem like a treat for people with diabetes. But recent research suggests that artificial sweeteners may actually be counterintuitive. Especially if you’re looking to manage or prevent diabetes. In fact, the increased consumption of these sugar substitutes may correlate to the increase of obesity and diabetes cases. The good news is that there are sugar alternatives you can choose from. You’ll still want to count your intake for glucose management, but these options are far better than the marketed “sugar-free” products. Stevia Stevia is a FDA approved low-calorie sweetener that has anti-oxidant and anti-diabetic properties. Unlike artificial sweeteners and sugar, stevia can suppress your plasma glucose levels and significantly increase glucose tolerance. It’s also technically not an artificial sweetener. That’s because it’s made from the leaves of the stevia plant. Stevia also has the ability to: increase insulin effect on cell membranes increase insulin production stabilize blood sugar levels counter mechanics of type 2 diabetes and its complications You can find stevia under brand names like: PureVia Sun Crystals Sweet Leaf Truvia While stevia is natural, these brands are usually highly processed and may contain other ingredients. For example, Truvia goes through 40 processing steps before it’s ready to be sold, and contains the sugar alcohol erythritol. Future research may shed more light on the health impacts of consuming these processed stevia sweeteners. The best way to consume stevia is to grow the plant yourself and use the whole leaves to sweeten foods. What’s the difference between Truvia and stevia? » Tagatose Tagatose is another naturally occurring sugar that researchers are s Continue reading >>
Sugar Free Sweets | Diabetes Forum The Global Diabetes Community
Diabetes Forum The Global Diabetes Community Find support, ask questions and share your experiences. Join the community chocoholicnomore Type 2 Well-Known Member I'd just like to recommend Aldi's (no I'm not on commission and I don't own the store :lol: ) "Dominion" sugar free sweets. They are ideal for sooking occassionally between meals and come in four great flavours- strawberries and cream, mint, fruit and creamy butterscotch. I have tried and like them all. There are 2 small pocket size boxes in each packet. Perfect Ok, are they chewy ones are boiled sweets? chocoholicnomore Type 2 Well-Known Member anyone tried the new wearthers original sugar free .. cant find them yet I get those sweets from Aldi's too. The butterscotch are lovely. Wish they did the chewy ones aswell. anyone tried the new wearthers original sugar free .. cant find them yet Haven't, but must tell me when you find them! I've been told that the bigger tescos have just got them in, Im going to try tom, will let you know Grazer ! I'll repeat my warning from a different thread - sugar alcohols (Maltitol, Xylitol etc) will probably blip your BG. Enjoy the sweets, but limit yourself to a few occasionally I've tried the sugar free wearthers and they OK but I can anly eat a couple without noticable effects from the sweetners. It was nice to have somethign I could suck when I had a sore throat but not something I would eat regularly. FWIW I've found them cheepest at ASDA, they were on offer at 2 packs for 1 (or 1.15 each :crazy: ) I got a large bag of the Wearthers sugar frees when I was in the US in October. It was far bigger than the bags over here and has coffee and mint flavours in it too!! They are lovely, quite small so don't have too big an impact as long as you can resist reaching for another all Continue reading >>
What Is Sugar Alcohol?
Q: About six years ago my husband went on an insulin pump, which has been a lifesaver. I can't imagine anyone keeping a better record of his carbohydrates and insulin. In looking for sugar-free products, we've been reading a lot of labels and have discovered that most cookies that claim to be sugar-free are sweetened with sugar alcohol. Can you explain what sugar alcohol is and if it's OK for him to eat? A: First of all, good work on reading labels -- it's the best way to know what's in the foods you're eating. Sugar alcohols are a group of calorie- and carbohydrate-containing sweeteners that are neither sugar nor alcohol. Unlike non-nutritive artificial sweeteners, which are also used to sweeten some sugar-free foods, sugar alcohols can elevate blood glucose levels, but to a lesser degree than the same amount of carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols are metabolized incompletely by your body, so they contribute fewer calories and have less impact on blood glucose levels than sugar has. They can contain an average of 2 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram of other carbohydrate sources. Commonly used sugar alcohols include: hydrogenated starch hydrolysates People who take insulin or some oral diabetes medications may have problems with insulin reactions after eating foods made with sugar alcohol because of the slow digestion rate. You may need to take less insulin if you eat such products. You should also know that desserts made with sugar alcohol typically are not much lower in calories and fat than their regular counterparts. The 2008 Nutrition Recommendation published by the American Diabetes Association states that "there is no evidence that the amounts of sugar alcohol likely to be consumed will reduce glycemia (sugar in the blood), energy intake, or weight." If eate Continue reading >>