If your doctors recommended you transit from white sugar to healthier alternatives, it is a reason to start looking for such sugar substitutes, especially if you have prediabetes. Added sugar is often called as “white killer” being the worst ingredient in a modern diet. It can trigger a number of diseases.
Surely, added sugar in tea or coffee won’t cause diabetes but if you consume candies and sweet juices daily, the risk of prediabetes is possible. Mayo Clinic experts recommend avoiding added sugar of any kind and use a healthier sugar replacement because of these harmful effects on metabolism:
- There are no essential components in it – sugar contains only “empty” calories without any useful components;
- It is bad for your teeth causing decay and cavities;
- Added sugar is commonly high in fructose that can be overloading for a liver and may trigger overweight;
- Also, sugar may trigger insulin resistance resulting in metabolic syndrome and diabetes;
- Sugar may contribute to cancer development because insulin levels are directly connected to the growth of uncontrolled cancer cells;
- Sugar can affect your brain and cause more hunger cravings resulting the fat promotion;
- Due to the massive release of dopamine in a brain, sugar may cause addiction;
- Added sugar also affects the levels of “bad” cholesterol that may give a heart disease.
To cut the long story short, added sugar consumed in large amounts can be bad both for children and adults, especially if you are already overweight and have been diagnosed with prediabetes. In this case, you can use the different kinds of sweeteners for diabetics and those people who want to cut the sugar intake. The good thing is that you have a few options to choose from.
The most common types of sugar replacement products
Luckily, you can choose between artificial and natural sugar substitutes that can completely replace added sugar and make your body less prone to diabetes and other sugar-related risks. WebMD classifies the most popular sugar alternatives to 6 major types:
Except the added sugar extracted from beet’s roots, there are other carbohydrates in this category that contain about 4 calories per 1 gram. You can find these sugars in many natural foods like fruits, veggies, cereals, and raw cow milk. They are also harmful to your teeth and are dangerous because of the elevated glycemic index. The most well-known sugars are dextrose, fructose, lactose, sucrose, etc.
These are also natural carbs that can be found in small amounts in some plants and cereals. They have fewer calories per 1 gram. A human body can’t fully metabolize them and they may cause bloating and cramps. Also, they are bad for teeth and have a low glycemic index. Sorbitol, Xylitol, Isomalt, Glycerol – these are the most common sugar alternatives in this group.
Natural caloric sugar substitutes
Maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, sorghum sugar, and raw honey are probably the oldest natural sweeteners used long before added sugar. Along with sugar, they contain some nutrients. Their glycemic index is lower than sugar but you need to eat them moderately. Also harmful to your teeth, though.
More and more artificial sugar alternatives appear in local food stores and supermarkets. Some have zero glycemic index and can be safely taken even by people who are insulin-intolerant. Also, they are completely safe to teeth. The most popular brands are Sucralose, Aspartame, Neotame, Cyclamate, etc.
Natural zero calorie sweeteners
These are not carbs and the best thing is that they have no calories. They are believed to be a better alternative to artificial sweeteners because they are natural, have zero glycemic indexes and can’t hurt teeth. But, just like, artificial sweeteners, they may have an unpleasant aftertaste. Stevia sweetener, Monellin, Luo Han Guo, and Pentadin are the most popular titles right now.
Basically, these are the sugars extracted from starch-based enzymes. Caramel, golden syrup, high fructose corn syrup, refined syrup, inverted sugar are only a few examples of modified sugars. The worst thing is that modified sugars have a high glycemic index and often used in processed foods and snacks.
If you are wondering how to choose the best sugar substitute then keep in mind that most of the above-mentioned options can be harmless if taken reasonably. Surely, it is a wiser choice towards any natural sugar alternatives but the safety comes first.
If you are conservative and skeptical about the artificial sweeteners, choose fructose or sorbitol – these sugar substitutes are time-tested and can be trusted. If you want to try a new product, then buy Stevia products or sucralose.
Consider what is the best option for you – if necessary, consult a nutritionist or health care specialist.