Living with lifestyle diseases like diabetes can be challenging for many people. Since they must ensure their insulin levels don’t rise abruptly after eating or drinking beverages, consuming sugary items is dicey. But since people cannot leave eating sugar altogether, they have to look for alternatives that are safe and don’t negatively impact their insulin levels. It is where sugar-free items come into the picture. While walking around big supermarkets, you can come across some sugar-free for diabetes in the aisle.
They can be sugar-free canned food, sugar-free sweeteners, sugar-free packaged food, or other items. But the real question is, are sugar-free products good for diabetics? To answer this commonly asked question, we’ve curated this epic guide that answers all your questions. So ensure you read till the end.
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If you pick up any packaged food product from the market, you will notice either of the two labels on the product pack – no added sugar and sugar-free. But even before looking for these labels, it is crucial to understand what these terms mean. Currently, all products must mandatorily mention these labels depending on their composition to comply with the FDA rules.
Some assume that products with these labels are healthy for people with diabetes, which is not always the case. Products that sell “no added sugar” products often use artificial sweeteners, which can harm the body indirectly. Some sugar-free products can also have artificial sweeteners. You must check the full ingredients list carefully to understand whether the product has used refined sugar, brown sugar, honey syrup, dextrose, fructose corn syrup, etc., as an ingredient.
Items labeled as “sugar-free” generally have 0.5 grams of any of these sugars and contain significantly fewer calories when compared to their sweetened counterparts. FDA has recommended using terms like no sugar, zero sugar, sugar-free, sugarless, etc., for such products. Now when you turn to items with a “no added sugar” label, they have a different meaning. Items with such tags don’t have any added sugar in the product, but may have some natural sugar. Luckily, natural sugar is not that harmful when consumed in moderation.
If you’re wondering whether or not sugar-free sweets increase blood sugar, we’re here to answer this question. Although it may easily vary from person to person, a lot depends on the type of sugar added to the product. If you just look at the product labels, you will only get to know whether the product has added sugar or natural sugar. Those with artificial sweetener or added sugar don’t tell you how much artificial sweetener is added.
There are generally two types of ingredients primarily used in making artificial sweeteners. But if you know what kind of sweetener is added to the product and what its implications are on people with diabetes, you’ll be better able to decide whether you should proceed with the product or not. More information has been shared on it below.
Irrespective of the packaged food product you come across, they mostly have either of the two in the form of artificial sweetener:
Since substitutes like stevia, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, saccharin, etc., are approved by FDA, they are used to make sugar substitutes. Although they have little impact on a person’s blood sugar level, it is comparatively better than refined sugar. The best part of sugar substitutes is they don’t contain any calories or carbs, so consuming them won’t negatively affect people's blood sugar levels.
Also known as polyols, sugar alcohols are neither alcohol nor sugar. They are an ideal choice for preparing artificial sweeteners because they contain fewer calories, and can be slowly digested by the body. As the digestion process will be slower, so will be the release of sugar in the bloodstream. Sugar alcohols are known by various names, so if you come across ingredients like sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, etc., be sure they are sugar alcohols.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, we suggest consulting your doctor on the healthiest and ideal sugar-free food list for diabetics to ensure the right selection.
The label “sugar-free food” should not trick you into believing it is healthy. Even products with one or more sugar alcohol contain calories and other ingredients that might not be suitable for you. So instead of looking at the number and type of sugar alcohol or sugar substitutes added to any product, look at the calories they contain. You should always look for items with fewer calories, as diabetes is a lot about calorie management.
As diabetes is becoming a common lifestyle disease, the demand for sugar-free products is giving rise to various options. But the question is, are all sugar-free products healthy? Certainly not! If you’re trying to maintain a sugar-free diet plan, we suggest sticking to items with fewer calories and a healthier nutritional profile. If you find it challenging to give up on sugar, it is your choice to buy natural sugar or sugar-free items with artificial sweeteners. However, it is best to consult a doctor for personalized recommendations to remain on the safer side.
Although sugar-free doesn’t significantly increase blood sugar levels, it should be consumed in moderation to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Overconsumption of anything can disrupt your average blood sugar levels, and sugar-free items are no exception.
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