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Jaggery, Honey, and Artificial Sweeteners – Can they form a part of your Diabetic Diet?

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. Healthy substitutes to sugar consumption are often considered an easier option but not many of us are aware of their impact on glucose level in the blood.

Let us understand in detail each alternative available for sugar which you are often tempted to have.

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 crystallization 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, one can take jaggery in the similar manner like simple sugar, other sweets and mithai, if blood sugar levels are well in control. However, exercise for diabetes must be accompanied to burn off the excess sugar.

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 fiber 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.

Artificial Sweeteners
When one is a diabetic, one needs to 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 the blood sugar levels and have loads of calories.
Sweeteners with reduced calories come with various names like isomalt or sorbitol. They are found in gum and sugar free candy. They will also raise sugar levels but not as much.
Artificial sweeteners are chemically made, have no calories and do not raise blood sugars. They come with various names like Equal or Splenda.
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.

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