Sweeteners

Here are the results of a recent poll we took in the Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics Facebook group:

sweetenerspoll

I can’t say whether this is typical of all Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics, but it’s representative of those group members who participated in the poll last month. (There were no participants who reported using saccharin (Sweet ‘n’ Low), molasses, dates, turbinado (raw sugar), or white sugar.) Just to put things in perspective, here is a chart of the carbohydrate content of “normal” servings of the various sweeteners.

Sweetener Serving size Grams carbs
Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) 3.5 oz. 0.0
Dates 1 date 18.0
Erythritol (Swerve, Truvia) 1 tsp. 4.0
Honey 1 tsp. 5.8
Maple syrup 1 tsp. 4.5
Molasses 1 tsp. 4.9
No sugar or sweeteners none 0.0
Saccharin (Sweet ‘n’ Low) 1 packet 0.5
Stevia 1 packet 1.0
Sucralose (Splenda) 1 tsp. 0.5
Turbinado (raw sugar) 1 tsp. 4.6
White sugar 1 tsp. 4.2

According to Dr. Richard Bernstein, 1 gram of carbohydrate (sugar) will typically raise your blood sugar number approximately 5 points. (See http://www.diabetes-book.com/laws-small-numbers/.) This apparently is not true for sugar alcohols, like erythritol. Of course, there are other factors/characteristics of the various sweeteners which might influence someone’s decision to use or not use them. For instance, some have reported that aspartame triggers excruciating migraines! However, the most essential information for a diabetic is how much a sweetener of choice will raise their blood sugar.

When testing for a blood sugar spike, check your blood glucose before you eat the food to be tested. Then test again in 1 hr. (from the time you take the first bite) and again at 2 hr. Blood sugar spikes typically occur between 1 and 2 hrs. after eating. Your blood glucose should not go up more than 20 points from the pre-meal number and should not go over 140 mg/dL. At 2 hrs., your blood sugar should have gone back down to close to what it was before eating. However, if the food you are testing is high in fiber, such as whole grains and legumes, it will take longer to digest and a blood sugar spike may not show up for 3 or 4 hrs. and, in some cases, as long as 5 or 6 hrs.

 

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