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Low Sugar and Sugar-Free
How can people with diabetes enjoy snacks and dessert without sacrificing taste and compromising their blood sugar level? The answer is in using artificial sweeteners in the diabetic recipes or consuming food with low or no carbohydrate content.
Sugar is a natural component of many foods like fruits and vegetables and they may occur as molasses, cane sugar, honey, fructose and brown sugar. These substances, when ingested can raise blood sugar levels which in diabetics can lead to dangerous complications. An option is to use artificial sweeteners with low or no calories such as those found in sugar-free candies and gums.
Low sugar foods are those containing sugar alcohols like isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. They have reduced calories and are considered foods with low carb that can raise blood sugar levels minimally. On the other hand, sugar-free foods are those that have no effect on blood sugar but may contain artificial sweeteners.
When reading food labels one must also be aware of those indicating “no sugar” which means the product contains absolutely no carbohydrate but may have artificial sweeteners, versus those labels that say “no sugar added” which means that although none was added the natural fructose or sugar content of the product may still be there.
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Ideal Treats for Diabetics
According to a small survey these sugar free chocolates for diabetics (available in chain drugstores, Whole Foods markets, and Godiva chocolate stores) received three out of five stars for tastiness:
- Nestle Turtles Sugar Free
- Yamate Chocolatier Sugar Free Milk Chocolate
- Dove Sugar Free Rich Dark Chocolates with Raspberry Crème
- Dove Sugar Free Rich Dark Chocolates with Chocolate Crème
- Galler Belgian Royal, made in Belgium
Susan Burke March, a licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator, recommends the best treats with low sugar for diabetics:
- Whole fruits, which should be taken in two to three servings daily according to the American Diabetes Association, and frozen fresh fruits like ripe bananas and seedless grapes
- Nonfat, sugar-free yogurt, which can be taken with fruit
- Frozen fruit slush containing fat-free milk or nonfat plain yogurt and artificial sweetener
- Sugar-free hot chocolate which contains calcium and artificial sweetener
- Fat-free angel food cake
- Sugar-free Jell-O
- Sugar-free hard candies usually sweetened with sorbitol
- Sugar-free, fat-free ice cream, fudge pops or frozen fruit bars
- Sugar-free dark chocolate like those of Hershey’s
When adapting diabetic recipes and choosing low carb foods one should be reminded that some foods may have low sugar content but not necessarily low fat content, and that controlling portion sizes and number of daily servings should also be considered. Therefore a diabetic patient does not have to skip on cake when it is his birthday or a treat during Halloween and holidays but must exercise wise choices in terms of food content and amount consumed.
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WebMD, “Artificial Sweeteners and Diabetes”, http://diabetes.webmd.com/artificial-sweeteners-diabetes-patients
WebMD, “Taste Test: Sugar-Free Chocolate”, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/taste-test-sugar-free-chocolate
Susan Burke March, “10 Best Sweet Diabetic Treats”, eDiets, http://healthnews.ediets.com/health-topics/diabetes/10-best-sweet-diabetic-treats.html