Sweet Without Sugar: Monk Fruit and Stevia
When you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar levels within a safe range is important. And it fluctuates throughout the day. It’s one reason many people with diabetes check glucose levels several times a day.
If there’s a problem, the right food or additional insulin can help return glucose levels closer to normal. If you have diabetes, your blood sugar typically ranges between 70-130 throughout the day, and slightly higher after eating.
And for that to happen, most people with diabetes should avoid eating sweet treats and sugary foods high in calories and carbohydrates. Candy bars, soda, desserts, might sound good. But they can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels that can damage organs, nerves, vision, and cause other problems.
Do you have to find a way to give up your sweet tooth to manage diabetes? No. You’ll want to avoid sugary foods and drinks. But there are alternative sweeteners that won’t negatively impact blood sugar levels.
This Asian fruits is 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation.
But it doesn’t contain any sugar, calories, or carbohydrates...three things you should pay close attention to regarding the foods you eat when you have diabetes.
It’s also generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with no known side effects. If you want to try monk fruit, some Asian grocery stores might carry it in the produce section. But it’s more widely available in powder and liquid form that you can add to drinks and recipes.
A more common natural sweetener than monk fruit that’s often used in place of sugar is stevia. It comes from the stevia rebaudiana plant found in South America. And it’s 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar.
Many artificial sweeteners and foods are made with stevia extract and used in dietary and weight-loss supplements. For some people, food or drinks containing stevia can cause digestive discomfort. If you’re allergic to daisies, sunflowers, or chrysanthemums (the same family of plants as stevia), you should avoid it.
However, both monk fruit and stevia are considered safe for people with diabetes.
You hungry? Plan out a week of Diabetic-Friendly meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And leave a little room for a sweet treat that won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike.