World Diabetes Day: November 14 Magazine

When that craving hits

Natural sugar substitutes are better than artificial sweeteners. Photo: special arrangement  

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Natural sugar substitues can help diabetics with the sweet tooth, says Priya Bharma.

Being a diabetic has got nothing to do with avoiding sweet treats. Simply avoiding sugary foods is not a big help in terms of curbing blood sugar, regardless of the type of artificial sweetener you choose. Artificial sweeteners contain carbohydrates that can elevate your blood sugar levels and should not be thought of as healthier than other sweeteners for people with diabetes. However, there are plenty of natural sugar substitutes, which can not only satisfy your sweet tooth but also limit the carbohydrate intake, especially if you’re counting calories.

Agave Nectar: is a natural alternative sweetener, which is 90 per cent fructose. This makes it sweeter than regular sugar, so less is needed. As a bonus, agave has a low glycemic index value that doesn’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar.

Coconut Nectar: is low on the glycemic index, which makes it ideal for those suffering from diabetes. Besides, this new entrant to the world of natural alternative sweeteners has neutral pH, which helps retain the body’s alkaline state. Apart from all this, coconut nectar also contains 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, and B.

Stevia: is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of a plant species called Stevia rebaudiana. Almost 300 times sweeter than sugar, Stevia is entirely diabetic-friendly, minus any calories or carbohydrates.

Xylitol: is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol extracted from foods such as beets, corn and berries. Xylitol is as sweet as sugar and has a lower glycemic index. Also, it is only partially absorbed by the body.

Blackstrap Molasses: are a special type extracted from triple-boiled sugar cane syrup. Very low on the glycemic index, it is safe for people with diabetes.

The writer is a Delhi-based senior dietician.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2017 6:32:42 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/natural-sugar-substitutes-to-help-diabetics/article6574460.ece