NATURAL SWEETENERS AND DIABETES
Have you been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes or Type II Diabetes? Do you have a sweet tooth?
It doesn’t need to be overwhelming as to what you should and shouldn’t do to manage your glucose levels. Knowledge is power!
Even natural sugars like coconut, honey, and date sugar can and do create spikes in blood sugar. The good news is that they are less processed and retain some nutrients. Whole organic fruit is always going to be the best choice because it contains fiber and is processed by nature.
When we consume sugar the body tells the pancreas to produce insulin to move the sugar out of the blood. When there is too much, the body stores it as fat. Sugar is addictive. Comparisons have been made between sugar and cocaine. This leads to excessive consumption and increased risk of diabetes.
For those with Diabetes consuming food with lots of fiber, in addition to clean quality fat and protein helps slow the absorption of sugar into the blood.
Guide to natural sugars
Stevia is a no-calorie, natural sweetener extracted from the stevia leaf.
It is 250 times sweeter than sugar and keeps cravings heightened. It is not an easy swap in baking because the extreme sweetness in a small quantity make it difficult to determine effective ratios.
There are no calories. It doesn’t affect blood sugar or insulin response, so it’s a good option for diabetics. (ADA, 2013) Purchase only pure, organic stevia.
Sometimes called coconut palm sugar, it’s a natural sweetener made from the sap of coconut trees. It is similar to a dry brown sugar. It is used in equal parts to white sugar.
Coconut sugar is a bit healthier than white sugar because it is less processed. It tastes like a sweet, earthy, coconut. It still contains a significant amount of fructose, which can raise insulin resistance and aggravate blood sugar imbalance if used excessively.
This is honey that has not been heated or filtered. Purchase from the jar, not the bear.
It has less glucose and fructose than white sugar. It has a lower immediate impact on raising blood glucose. Raw honey doesn’t have or need any preservatives. This is one food that will never expire! Raw is considered to have greater nutrient density. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetics consuming honey improved lipids, body weight and long-term blood sugar levels. (dietsvsdisease.org, 2016) It has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
In baking, only use 1/4 cup raw honey for every one cup of sugar.
These are made from maple tree sap. The sugar and tastes similar to maple syrup. Maple sugar has a similar look and to a dry, light brown sugar. Pure organic maple syrup is simple-tapped straight from the tree. These options can be easily incorporated into baking, by reducing the amount of syrup to about ½ compared to sugar.
These contains manganese, iron, and calcium. These sweeteners have a slower and lower effect on blood sugar than regular sugar.
This is a good one nutrition wise. Date sugar is made by taking dried dates and grinding them into a fine powder. This can be made at home in a blender pretty easily.
This sugar retains the healthy antioxidants from the date.
It tends to clump and doesn’t melt. It is very sweet, so a little goes a long way.
ADA. (2013, October 2). Retrieved from Diabetes.org: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html?
Association, A. D. (2014, May). Glycemic Index and Diabetes. Retrieved from American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
Diabetes.org. (2014, May 14). Retrieved from www.diabetes.org: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/sugar-alcohols.html
dietsvsdisease.org. (2016, November 16). Retrieved from dietsvsdisease.org: http://www.dietvsdisease.org/can-diabetics-eat-honey/
Ed Bauman, M.Ed., Ph.D. and Jodi Friedlander, N.C. (2013). Therapeutic Nutrition. Pengrove: Bauman College.