Stevia: The Best Sugar Substitutes for People with Diabetes

With a low to no calorie sugar count, artificial sweeteners may seem like a treat for people with diabetes. But recent research indicates that artificial sweeteners may actually be counterintuitive, especially if you’re looking to manage or prevent diabetes.

In fact, the increased consumption of these sugar substitutes may correlate to the increase of obesity and diabetes cases.

The good news is that there are sugar alternatives you can choose from, including:

  • stevia or stevia products
  • tagatose
  • monk fruit extract
  • coconut palm sugar
  • date sugar
  • sugar alcohols, such as erythritol or xylitol

You’ll still want to watch your intake for glucose management, but these options are far better than the products marketed as “sugar-free.”

What is stevia?
Stevia is a low-calorie sweetener that has antioxidant and antidiabetic properties. It’s been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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Unlike artificial sweeteners and sugar, stevia can suppress your plasma glucose levels and significantly increase glucose tolerance. It’s also not an artificial sweetener, technically speaking. That’s because it’s made from the leaves of the stevia plant.

Stevia also has the ability to:

  • increase insulin production
  • increase insulin’s effect on cell membranes
  • stabilize blood sugar levels
  • counter the mechanics of type 2 diabetes and its complications

You can find stevia under brand names such as:

  • Pure Via
  • Sun Crystals
  • SweetLeaf
  • Truvia

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While stevia is natural, these brands are usually highly processed and may contain other ingredients. For example, Truvia goes through 40 processing steps before it’s ready to be sold. It also contains the sugar alcohol erythritol.

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Future research may shed more light on the impact of consuming these processed stevia sweeteners.

The best way to consume stevia is to grow the plant yourself and use the whole leaves to sweeten foods.

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