Search
My Current Location Atlanta, GA 30308

Access Your Account

New to Healthgrades?

Join for free!

Or, sign in directly with Healthgrades:

Doctors and their Administrators:
Sign Up or Log In

How Sweet They Are: The Real Skinny on Eight Common Sugar Substitutes and Diabetes

By

Denise Mann, MS

Was this helpful? (58)
This content is selected and managed by the Healthgrades editorial staff and is brought to you by an advertising sponsor.
x

This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the HealthGrades advertising policy.

ADVERTISEMENT

4 Secrets to Avoid Diabetes Burnout

It's tough to keep up with a diabetes treatment plan. But shaking things up can keep you focused.
honey

There are so many sugar substitutes available today it can be hard to keep them all straight.  Making the healthiest choice possible is especially important for the millions of people who live with diabetes.

In general, sugar substitutes sweeten food and drinks with fewer calories and carbs than table sugar. People with diabetes need to limit the carbs in their diet to keep their blood sugar (glucose) levels under control.

Here’s the real skinny on eight of today’s artificial sweeteners and how they affect your blood sugar levels and sweet tooth.

Baked apples for dessert will satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping you healthy!

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Feb 16, 2015

2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Stevia

What it is: Derived from the South American stevia plant, this sugar substitute is also known as Rebaudioside A, Reb-A, or rebiana. Brand names include PureVia, Truvia and SweetLeaf Sweetener. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Stevia is a Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) ingredient. This ruling does not pertain to whole-leaf stevia or [other] non Reb-A  extracts.

Where it is: Stevia can be found in drinks, desserts, gum, baked goods, candy, yogurt, and in packets for use in beverages. Stevia can also be used when baking at home.

How sweet it is: Up to 300 times sweeter than sugar

Ok for diabetes? Yes. Stevia does not affect blood sugar levels.

Agave Nectar

What it is: Agave comes from the same Southwestern U.S plant that is used to make tequila. It has more calories than table sugar, 60 calories versus 30 calories respectively, which is rare for a sugar substitute. Some brand names may include Wholesome Sweeteners, Madhava, and Volcanic Nectar.

Where it is: Agave is a concentrated sugar syrup that looks and feels like honey. (Yes, it is that sticky!) It can be used to sweeten beverages and baked goods. Agave dissolves easily in cold drinks.

How sweet is: 1.5 times sweeter than table sugar

OK for diabetes? In moderation. It’s better than refined sugar, but the American Diabetes Association lists Agave as “a sweetener to limit.”

Aspartame

What it is:  Aspartame is produced by linking aspartic acid and phenylalanine, two amino acids (building blocks of proteins). Brand names are Equal and Nutrasweet.

Where it is: Aspartame can be found in soft drinks, yogurt and dairy, candy, fruit spreads and other foods. It is also available in packets to be added to coffee and tea according to taste.

How sweet it is: Up to 200 times sweeter than sugar

OK for diabetes? Yes. Aspartamehas no effect on blood glucose levels.

Sucralose (Splenda)

What it is: Sucralose or Splenda is a no-calorie sugar substitute.

Where it is:  Splenda is found in many processed foods, and is available as a tabletop and general purpose sweetener. Splenda can be found in small yellow packets wherever coffee and tea are served. It is considered the most heat-stable of all the sugar substitutes, which makes it ideal for your baking needs.

How sweet it is: As much as 600 times as sweet as sugar

Ok for diabetes?  Maybe not, research suggests. Splenda contains about 1 gram of carbs per teaspoon, which means it could affect blood sugar if it’s not consumed in moderation.

Saccharin

What it is: Discovered in 1879, saccharin is an artificial sweetener. Brand names include Sweet and Low®, Sweet Twin®, Sweet'N Low®, and Necta Sweet.

Where it is: Saccharin may be found in drinks, and other food bases or mixes if it’s prepared in accordance with directions and stringent guidelines. It is also used as a sweetener for coffee and teas. 

How sweet it is: From 300 to 500 times as sweet as sugar

Was this helpful? (58)
Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Dec 20, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. American Academy of Family Physicians. Acesulfame K: What You Need To Know. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/sugar-and-substitutes/sug...
  2. American Academy of Family Physicians. Stevia Sweeteners. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/sugar-and-substitutes/sug...
  3. American Academy of Family Physicians. Sugar Alcohols. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/food-nutrition/sugar-and-substitutes/sug...
  4. American Diabetes Association. Low Calorie Sweeteners. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/artificial-...
  5. American Diabetes Association. Size Up Your Sweetener Options. http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2009/jul/size-up-your-sweetener-options.html
  6. Food and Drug Administration. Saccharin. http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm397725.htm#Sacchari...
  7. Pepino ML, et al. Sucralose affects glycemic and hormonal responses to an oral glucose load. Diabetes Care. 2013 Sep;36(9):2530-5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23633524/
  8. National Institutes of Health. Sweeteners-Sugars. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002444.htm

Your opinion matters!



Please fill out this short, 1-3 minute survey about Eating with Diabetes. Your answers are anonymous and will not be linked to you personally.

The survey will appear at the end of your visit.

Thank you!

A survey will be presented to you after you finish viewing our Eating with Diabetes content.

You Might Also Like

Share via Email

PREVIOUS ARTICLE:

4 Pillars of Physical Activity for Diabetics

NEXT ARTICLE:

The Benefits of Soy for Diabetes

Up Next

The Benefits of Soy for Diabetes