Top 5 Best Diabetic Sweeteners - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India

Top 5 Best Diabetic Sweeteners

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 18 Apr 2016 - 15:00

natural sweeteners

Even if you don't have a sweet tooth, sugar is a part of everyday life for everyone. When it comes to diabetics, there is no way, but to lead a life without sugar. Sugar is the center of  Diabetes, wherein it's important to balance the sugar levels in the body.

According to The International Diabetes Federation, India has 68 million diabetics. Although the market has some low-calorie artificial sweeteners, very few realize that they suffer from adverse reactions to some of them. A study on ‘Sugar intake, obesity and diabetes in India' published in National Institutes of Health, NCBI suggests, "Along with decreasing physical activity, this increasing trend of per capita sugar consumption assumes significance in view of the high tendency for Indians to develop insulin resistance, abdominal adiposity, and hepatic steatosis, and the increasing "epidemic" of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and cardiovascular diseases.”

It is a tough task to quit refined sugar, but it is surely worth the effort. We are blessed with nature's natural sweeteners which are reportedly healthy and tasty than refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup.

Top 5 best diabetic sweeteners include:

1.      Raw Honey

Raw honey tops the list of best sweeteners as it is packed with antioxidants, enzymes, iron, zinc, phosphorous, calcium, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and niacin. One tablespoon of raw honey contains about 64 calories and has lesser impact on the overall glycaemic load when compared to a single banana. According to a study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, "In patients with diabetes mellitus, studies showed that honey supplementation considerably reduced postprandial glycaemic response or elicited much lower rise in plasma glucose than other sugars or sweeteners did.” In addition, the study also touted, "honey reduced hyperglycaemia in children with type 1 diabetes mellitus.”

Quick Tip: The darker the honey appears, the richer its flavour and greater its health benefits. Make sure you don't use raw honey while cooking as heat destroys its nutrients. Just drizzle it over breakfast cereals or sprouted grain toast or salad dressings or yoghurt. If you want to add honey to your morning drink like coffee or tea, wait till it gets warm and then add it.

2.      Stevia

This natural herb is a zero calorie sweetener that tastes very sweet and is generally used in coffee, tea and desserts. It is extracted from the leaves of Stevia plant and is available in both liquid and powdered form. Apart from contributing toward lowering blood pressure, it stimulates the insulin production and release in the pancreas, thus facilitating treatment of type 2 diabetes. According to an article published in Hindawi Publishing Corporation's Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, "Researchers worldwide agree on the antidiabetic effects of Stevia,” An excerpt from an article by Naveen Shivanna, Mahadev Naika & co. published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications says, "Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni has been used for the treatment of diabetes.” It also says, "Supplementation of polyphenols extract from stevia to the diet causes a reduction in diabetes and its complications.”

Quick Tip: Stevia leaves powder is known to effectively reduce elevated levels of glucose in the bloodstream.

3.      Xylitol

Xylitol is an ancient sweetening agent that has very few calories and plenty of beneficial health properties. It is naturally found in fruits and fibrous vegetables like corn cobs and birch trees. It is also produced in human bodies, to an extent. It is used by majority of diabetics, as the insulin levels remain the same, thanks to its incredibly low GI. Scientists also claim that is has many dental benefits such as rebuilding of tooth enamel, preventing tooth decay, etc. It is also used extensively in cooking, baking, chewing gum, mints, beverages, mouth washes, etc. The International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Bio-science reports, "plaque is reduced when xylitol is consumed as it attracts and then starves harmful microorganisms allowing the mouth to demineralize damaged teeth with less interruption.” It also adds, "Sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol also help diabetic patients.”

Quick Tip: Clinical tests reveal that consumption of xylitol-sweetened foods in-between meals cuts down the formation of new caries significantly. It also inhibits the growth of primary bacterium associated with dental caries, S. mutans.

4.      Dates

Dates are one of the best natural sugar substitutes, which help reduce LDL cholesterol and risk of stroke. According to experts, dates have relatively healthier GI ranging from 35.5 to 49.7. Diabetics could actually carry a packet-full of dates as they go about their daily routine because whenever lethargy sets in, they can regain it back by popping in two to three dates. Research concludes that there is no increase in blood sugar levels if a diabetic eats dates, provided they don't exceed the limit. A study on ‘Glycemic indices of five varieties of dates in healthy and diabetic subjects' published in US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health concludes that, "The results show low glycemic indices for the five types of dates included in the study and that their consumption by diabetic individuals does not result in significant postprandial glucose excursions. These findings point to the potential benefits of dates for diabetic subjects when used in a healthy balanced diet.”

Quick Tip: If you want to boost the nutrient-value of foods, while cutting down on refined sugar, you can use date paste to sweeten your pies and muffins. Date paste is used in many recipes as it also adds bulk for baking, unlike Stevia.

5.      Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is another traditional nutrient-rich sweetener that contains 50% glucose and 50% fructose. This sweet syrup is made by boiling down sap from maple trees and contains more minerals than refined sugar. Research studies determine that eating maple syrup results in a relatively lower rise in levels of blood sugar than white sugar, corn syrup, etc. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, maple syrup is said to contain polyphenols like abscisic acid (ABA), which stimulates insulin release via pancreatic cells, increases sensitivity of fat cells to insulin, thus making the syrup beneficial for those with diabetes.

Quick Tip: If you're fighting diabetes, try using dark coloured maple syrup as it has higher nutritional value and is more potent against diabetes. Researchers suggest that maple syrup has a low glycaemic index, much similar to honey, molasses, etc.






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