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Natural Sugar Alternatives and Type 2 Diabetes

natural sugar alternatives-added sugars
natural sugar alternatives-added sugars

Replacing added sugars with fruit-sweetened alternatives can help you manage type 2 diabetes.

Melissa Ann Prest, DCN, RDN, CSR, LDN

National Spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Adding sugar to coffee, drinking a soda with lunch — there are countless ways to satisfy a sweet tooth. However, sugars that are added to foods and beverages offer no nutritional benefits compared to foods and drinks that are naturally sweet, such as fruit. You can satisfy your sugar craving with natural sources of sweetness and limit the amounts of added sugars you consume.

Sweeten foods and drinks with fruit — whether it’s fresh, frozen, or dried. Add fresh berries to plain low-fat yogurt and chopped fresh fruit to hot or cold cereal. Dried fruit is a great addition to homemade trail mix. Mash and freeze a banana for a healthful summer treat. Lemon or lime slices provide a natural flavor to water.

Reduce the added sugars you consume by cooking and baking from scratch. Take control of the ingredients you use and the amounts to help your family adjust their taste buds.

You can also enhance the flavor of your beverages and bake with other types of sweeteners. For example: monk fruit extract, stevia, and erythritol can be used in place of agave syrup, maple syrup, corn syrup, cane sugar, and honey. Some people may find that too much erythritol, a sugar alcohol, can cause an upset stomach, so start with a smaller amount and stop if you experience any symptoms.

Type 2 diabetes increases your risk for a heart attack or stroke, kidney, eye, and nerve damage. Although food doesn’t cause diabetes, selecting nutritious foods and controlling your portion sizes can help you manage this chronic disease.

A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you develop short-term and long-term plans to control your blood sugar levels, improve your food choices, and increase your physical activity to successfully help to delay or prevent complications from diabetes.

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