Consistently keeping sugar levels under control is a challenge that all diabetics face day in and day out. The diabetic food must be carefully planned in order to ensure optimum nutrition and limited sugar intake. Sweeteners or healthy substitutes to sugar consumption are often considered an easier option but not many of us are aware of their impact on our glucose level. Let us understand in detail each sugar alternative or sweeteners which are available to us-
Replacing white sugar with any other sweetening agent is not a good idea. People think jaggery is a healthy alternative for white sugar as it has more nutritional benefits. On the contrary, having jaggery can elevate blood sugars and worsen the condition.
Both jaggery and white sugar are derived from sugarcane. During the crystallisation process, sugar is stripped of all its nutrients, whereas jaggery has magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc and potassium. So jaggery is better than white sugar, but the sugar content is more or less the same.
Both sugar and jaggery have a high Glycemic index (GI). Due to this, sugar absorption is faster when it breaks down in the body, which results in raised sugar levels. Though jaggery has a complex sugar, sucrose, which takes time to break down, still the levels of blood sugar can rise within a few hours. However, o can take jaggery in the similar manner like simple sugar, if your blood sugar levels are well in control.
The very common misconception every individual has is that honey is low in calories. No, it is not. Honey is actually 64 Kcal in 1 tablespoon. It has 0 grams fat but major calories are from carbohydrates.
There is no soluble fibre in honey as well. The estimated glycemic load of honey is 10 in a tablespoon. This is considered quite high if you have diabetes.
Replacing sugar with honey is actually not advisable if your blood glucose levels are uncontrolled. Honey does not help in weight reduction, fat metabolism or blood glucose levels improvement.
Pure organic honey has antimicrobial properties which can assist in case of sore throat or replacing sugar in children’s diet or anyone suffering from cancer. If you have diabetes or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes avoid honey, sugar as well as jaggery. You may consider alternative options as artificial sweeteners for sweet tooth.
When one is a diabetic, one needs to be careful about the quantity of sugar in the daily diet. One tries to reach for sugar free or low sugar options every day. It is imperative to understand the types of sugars first. Naturally occurring sugars comprise of sugar (white or brown), honey, molasses and fructose. They raise blood sugar levels and have loads of calories.
Artificial sweeteners are safe as they help in reducing both the calorie and carbohydrate intake. They help in curbing the sugar cravings. However, they are needed in very small quantities as they are about hundred times stronger than the normal sugar. They can be used as add-ons to tea or coffee. They are also added to diet drinks, desserts, gum and bakery items. However, moderate use is recommended.
If you have any doubts regarding any of these alternatives to sugar, we recommend that you consult your health coach. Monitor your sugar levels on a regular basis if you wish to know how effective your diabetes management really is. Optimize your diet and lifestyle according to your sugar level.