Did you know that most Americans eat the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar a day? That’s about 150 pounds of sugar per year! Most of our sugar intake comes from sugary cereals, snacks, soda, and a summer must, ice cream! So what about artificial sweeteners like Sweet ‘n Low or Equal? Are they a good choice for diabetics?
Artificial sweeteners are compounds that offer sweetness with fewer calories. Sweeteners can have anywhere from 30 to 8,000 times the apparent sweetness of your standard table sugar. This means that foods made with artificial sweeteners have a lot less calories. Most doctors and nutritionists believe that artificial sweeteners can be very helpful to diabetics for two reasons.
First, artificial sweeteners allow people to stick to a good diet for a longer period of time. “If somebody is trying to lose weight and cut back on sugar and calories, artificial sweeteners can add flavor to unsweetened beverages or other products,” says Michael F. Jacobson, PhD, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Artificial sweeteners allow people to enjoy a wider range of foods than they would be able to eat or could only eat in such small amounts that they are not satisfying.
Secondly, artificial sweeteners do not effect blood sugar levels. Artificial sweeteners can be helpful to people who need to control their sugar intake. Some foods, however, contain artificial sweeteners and can affect blood sugar because of other carbohydrates or proteins in them. In other words, while foods that contain artificial sweeteners may be sugar-free, they may not be carbohydrate-free. Diabetics should be aware that food that contains artificial sweeteners instead of sugar can still affect blood sugar levels. As the old adage says, everything in moderation. Artificial sweeteners are still synthetic, and the full spectrum of their impact on your body and health are still being studyed. Still, as science improves our lives, it is up to us on how we use its tools. It was not even a century ago the standard diabetes treatment was a glorified starvation diet, but today Diabetics have vastly more choices in the foods can eat, nonetheless to speak of the foods we crave!
So enjoy a little ice cream this summer! Many top brands make delicious frozen treats with artificial sweeteners. They taste great and will help you to stay healthy without feeling deprived. Check your labels, but it is possible to have your cake (or ice cream) and eat it, too!