Artificial Sweeteners for Diabetics

Sweetener DiabeticsJust because you have been diagnosed with diabetes does not mean you are sentenced to a life of bland food and none of your favorite sweets. People with high blood sugar have options for eating sweet treats. Those with diabetes can use artificial sweeteners in their food to continue to enjoy sweet flavors. In most cases, artificial sweeteners even taste sweeter than regular sugar.

Sweeteners labeled as low-calorie are referred to as artificial sweeteners. Unlike most sugars, artificial sweeteners are man-made and created in a lab. However, although artificial, they still are often made from materials found in nature like herbs and even sugar.

Types of Artificial Sweeteners

The FDA regulates the artificial sweetener industry. Any company wishing to bring a sweetener to the market must have it approved by the FDA before it can be sold. Some sweeteners are not approved by the FDA but are available in other countries. So if you are traveling, make sure you know what you are getting before using it.

The following are the artificial sweeteners currently approved by the FDA:

  • Acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame-K, is much sweeter than regular table sugar. It is as sweet as aspartame, about half as sweet as saccharin, and less sweet than sucralose by something like a quarter. This sweetener has an aftertaste and is usually combined with another sweetener to mask it. Acesulfame potassium is stable enough to be used in baking. It is commonly found in protein shakes, pharmaceutical products such as chewable pills, and sweeteners like Sunett and Sweet One.
  • Saccharin is sweeter than Acesulfame potassium. Although it is not as stable when heated, it mixes well with other chemicals, which allows it to be used in baking. It has an aftertaste that is described as bitter or metallic, so it is also usually mixed with another artificial sweetener to offset the taste. This artificial sweetener is typically found in drinks, toothpaste, candies, SugarTwin, and Sweet’N Low.
  • Aspartame is the closest to the actual flavor of regular sugar. But it is so much sweeter than sugar that it is typically mixed with Acesulfame potassium to reduce the sweetness. This type of sweetener does not hold up well under heat so it is not used for any baking purposes. Because of the way aspartame is formulated, those diagnosed with Phenylketonuria (PK) should avoid using it. Aspartame is typically manufactured under the name Equal and NutraSweet.
  • Sucralose is sweeter than other artificial sweeteners, except for Acesulfame potassium. This type of sweetener is stable when heated so it can be used in baking and in food items that have a long shelf life. Sucralose is popular because it does not create cavities in teeth. It is in fact found in over 4,000 products. Sucralose is marketed under the name Splenda.
  • Neotame is much, much sweeter than regular sugar and relatively stable under heat. Manufacturers use it because lower quantities are needed for flavor than sugar or other sweeteners. Neotame is marketed as NutraSweet.

Final Word

Check the labels of the food you eat to be sure which type of artificial sweetener, if any, you are ingesting. The label should indicate exactly what kind of sugars are in the product. As always, check with your doctor for any questions or concerns about your health.

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