The Sweet Spot for Sugar Substitutes and Your Kidneys
You sit down at a mom-and-pop restaurant, or one of those family-dining chains to order a meal. The server brings your table glasses of water, takes your order, and disappears to pass your order along to the cooks.
While you’re waiting, you survey the table and noticed one of those little containers stocked with packets of artificial sweetener. But it’s not the only artificial sweetener available. Here’s a look at healthy sugar alternatives and what you should know when you have renal disease.
This is the stuff you’ll usually find on the table at a restaurant. You’re probably familiar with brands like Sweet’N Low, NutraSweet, Splenda, and Equal. Too much of a good thing? Maybe. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers these artificial sweeteners safe to consume in small amounts.
If you haven’t heard of these sugar substitutes, read the food label on a packaged treat. You may find one of these sweeteners in the list of ingredients: xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol. A possible alternative to sugar, but they can cause digestive discomfort, and raise blood sugar levels.
In addition to artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols that have been around a long time, there’s a new breed of sweeteners made from stevia like Truvia and Pure Via. Yes, these are alternatives to sugar to sweeten food. But some early research suggests they may also be hard on your kidneys.
And then there’s the world of natural sweeteners: Honey, syrup, agave nectar. You can also sweeten food and recipes with things like applesauce, ripe bananas, and dates. And while these do contain calories and raise blood sugar levels, eating whole foods will always be healthier than processed and artificial.
The Truth About Sugar
Most people probably eat too much. Health experts agree that excess sugar is one reason for the rise in chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. What should you do?
Curb your sugar cravings. Cut back on the amount of sugar you consume, and be patient. Over time, your taste buds will adjust, and sugar cravings will subside. Aim to eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats and meals from our Renal-Friendly menu.