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5 types of sugar substitutes useful for Diabetics

Updated on August 22, 2013

The use of Sugar in moderate amount's is perfectly acceptable in a balanced and healthy diet, if sugar is abused the effects on the human body can lead to organ failure, amputation of limbs, blindness and death. One of the most common condition's that excessive use of sugar brings on, is the condition known to millions as Diabetes.

Sugar entered the diet of many Europeans in the age of Colonialism, Sugar made the Western world rich and was responsible for displacing many African's with the need for Slave labour in the colonies. Along with creating misery for millions of African's its over use in the poorer members of society led to malnutrition and general poor health.

A common bowl of Sugar.
A common bowl of Sugar. | Source

What is Sugar?

The most common Sugar that is used in our food is known as Sucrose, Sucrose is a carbohydrate found in plants and is the fuel created by the plant storing energy from the Sun. All plant's have Sucrose stored in their living tissues but we only harvest Sugar from the plants that hold the most natural sugars in their roots and fruits.

Until the Crusades Europe was reliant on Honey to satisfy it's sweet tooth, the crusaders returned from the crusades with the unrefined sugars and were fascinated with the sweet tasting mineral. Asia seems to have been home to Sugar creation and the extraction methods for obtaining honey spread around the known world.

The following 5 Sugar substitutes can be used by Diabetics or are an alternative for those people who are wishing to control their weight and diet...

(1) Aspartame

Aspartame is a well established sweetener which has been used in low calorie meals and soft drinks for nearly 30 years. It is often referred to as E951, in the ingredients on the back of packets and canned goods. Aspartame is around 200 times sweeter than conventional Sucrose Sugar, which we usually use as table Sugar around the home. Aspartame is often mixed with other sweeteners to reduce the excessive sweetness the sugar substitute produces. The sweetener is an artificial sugar discovered by accident in the 1960's, it's original use was to help treat patients who suffered with ulcers. The most well known brands that uses this sweetener are Nutrasweet and Canderel.

The sweetener is not without controversy and over it's lifetime has been accused of causing tumour's and increasing the danger to people who are not in full health. Governments have legislated and advised a set level of Aspartame consumption a day, the figure is quite high and a consumer would have to drink over a dozen cans of soft drinks to reach the danger level.

(2) Sucralose

Sucralose is a low-calorie sweetener which offers Diabetic's a way to reduce calories in sweet foods and beverages, this may help you reduce or maintain your weight. Sucralose adds the sweetness of Sugar but not the calories or the carbohydrates. Sucralose is derived from Sucrose Sugar and tastes identical to the regular Sugar many consume as standard. The chemistry of the sweetener allows the calories from the sugar to pass through the body without absorbing.

The sweetener is one of the safest and most established zero calorie sweeteners on the market, after Two decades of sale and many independent studies no harmful effects have been found. The sweetener has been approved for sale in over 80 countries world wide and no limitations of it's consumption have every been advised, this is due to the sweetener failing to metabolize in the human body. One of the most well known Sucralose brands known to many is the Splenda range of products.

(3) Acesulfame Potassium

This artificial sweetener is used in North America and the European Union under different names and brands. On the ingredients list it is often referred to as E950 in Europe and by its brand names Sunett or Sweet One. Acesulfame K has been an approved sweetener since 1988, and yet most people due to lack of knowledge are not even aware that this is an artificial sweetener being used in their food and beverages.

This is another product hundreds of times sweeter than Sugar and other ingredients or chemicals are used to dull the taste to acceptable levels. Some of the additives are thought to lead to a number of negative side effects and concerned links to Cancer have been voiced.

(4) Tagatose

Tagatose is a low carbohydrate sweetener, very similar to fructose in it's chemical structure. It is naturally occurring and is usually found in dairy products. Tagatose is quite similar to sucrose Sugar and is according to nutritionist's is almost 95% as sweet. Like other low calorie sweeteners it is metabolized differently to table Sugar, so it has a minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. Tagatose is suitable as a flavor enhancer in meals or as a low carbohydrate sweetener in beverages such as Tea and Coffee.

Tagatose can be found under the brand name Naturlose, and has been approved for sale and consumption for over a decade. The sweetener has over 50% less calories than Sucrose Sugar and is effective in helping digestion. Dentists in America recommend it's use as it's sugar's do not harm delicate tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth decay.

(5) Sorbitol

Sorbitol sweetener is a Sugar alcohol that's derived from glucose by modifying one of the chemical groups so that it's metabolized more slowly by the body. This reduces the insulin surge that normally occurs when sugar is ingested into the blood stream. Sorbitol can be found in fruits such as Apples, Pear's and Peaches, the sweetener has a taste half as sweet as regular Sugar.

Excessive consumption of the Sorbitol can act as a laxative, and a warning is carried on a number of low sugar sweets. Sorbitol is mixed with other sweet tasting substitutes in sweets such as chewing gum. The Sorbitol which is not absorbed by the stomach can cause digestive discomfort and those people who suffer from ailments to the stomach should stay clear of this Sugar substitute.


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    • Asp52 profile image

      Andrew Stewart 4 years ago from England

      Thanks for reading and sharing. I am quite interested in the sugar substitutes as my dad is diabetic and he complains about some of the substitutes effect on his health. It is weird to think there are sugar substitutes out there with even greater sweetness than Sugar and it has to be evened out by chemicals and acids to make it palatable.

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 4 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      Great information. I am surprised that there are no comments yet.

      I did not realize that there are so many options for sugar substitutes. Tagatose sounds awesome. I am going to have to keep my eye out for it.

      Voted up, interesting and sharing. People need to know about these options!