Everything you need to know about natural sweeteners for diabetes

There are new sweeteners available like stevia aimed at helping people with diabetes deal with their blood glucose levels. Here we'll talk all about their characteristics, properties and their pros and cons, to help make your choice easier. Let's get going!

Stevia, a plant that's the "in thing" for diabetes

Stevia is a plant that's definitely all the rage for people with diabetes. It's known for its medical and sweetening properties; the sweetener extracted from its leaves is 200 times stronger than sugar, and has zero calories. Basically, it's a huge step forward when it comes to controlling blood glucose levels, but before we name stevia the ideal plant for diabetes, let's find out about its pros and cons.

Stevia for diabetes: all the pros

Did you know that the ground leaves of the stevia plant are 20-30 times sweeter than sugar, and the extract is 200-300 times sweeter? This sweetener made from stevia has no calories and it's particularly recommended if you're putting on a bit too much weight with diabetes.

Stevia for diabetes: a few cons

So you don't like liquorice? Then we need to point out that one of the cons about stevia that could be annoying is its slight almost liquorice aftertaste. And you also need to know that you can only buy the extract of its active ingredient, not its ground-up leaves. Also, if you're ecologically-minded, you'll know that the stevia plant isn't exactly a zero-food miles product, as, even though it grows in Italy, we don't have any processing plants for it.

How about other natural sweeteners for diabetes?

There are lots of other natural sweeteners on the market recommended for people with diabetes. To give a few examples, there are syrups made from barley malt, rice and corn. They all have a high content of maltose, and contain substances that are essential to the system like amino acids, potassium, sodium and magnesium, but their sweetening capacity is less than honey, and in some cases, contain traces of fructose.

The blue juice for diabetes that's all the way from Mexico

And then there's agave juice, the plant for making tequila, which has recently arrived from Mexico. It's rich in mineral salts and has a lower percentage of glucose than sugar, but scientists are still in the process of studying whether agave juice contains any traces of fructose.

Make sure to read the labels on natural sweeteners

Based on research by the erstwhile Iran, the National Institute for Food and Nutrition, these new natural sweeteners, including stevia, can have restrictions on their use, even if they are harmless in the quantities allowed by law: we therefore recommend that you read the product labels carefully, and as always, consult with your doctor. Also, be sure to pay special attention to hypertriglyceridemia, as consuming large amounts of fructose found in natural sweeteners increases triglycerides.

As you're well aware, only your doctor or diabetes specialist can give you guidance about diabetes treatment and the choices of various devices. The aim of this article is to suggest ideas and information to help enhance the discussion with your doctor, so that you can find the solutions that are right for you and your lifestyle together.

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