How to Cook with Sugars and Sugar Substitutes for People with Diabetes


The latest American Diabetes Association nutritional guide­lines allow sugars (table sugar, brown sugar, honey, and molasses, for example) as part of the total carbohydrate in a diabetes meal plan. Although sugars add sweetness and tex­ture to foods, especially baked goods, they also add empty calories.

You can reduce the sugars called for in many baking recipes by 1/4 to 1/2 without affecting the quality. A general guide­line is to use 1/4 cup or less of added sugars for each cup of flour.

Fresh fruit is a natural replacement for all or part of the sugar in a recipe. Try applesauce in baked goods, fresh fruit instead of syrup on pancakes, and fruit juice in salad dress­ings. Be aware that fruit juice or fruit juice concentrates have more nutrients than sugar, such as vitamin C, but they provide the same amount of calories and carbohydrate, and they raise blood glucose about as high as sugar does.

Fructose is the sugar found in fruits and honey. It is also extracted as a sweetener. Fructose may cause a smaller rise in your blood glucose level than other sugars. But large amounts of fructose may increase your cholesterol levels. Because of these findings, the American Diabetes Association cautions that there is no reason to use fructose in place of other sugars.

Some herbs and spices can be used in place of sugar in recipes. You’ve probably heard of or used herbs and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, coriander seeds, and mint. But have you tried lemon-flavored herbs like lemon balm, lemon basil, lemon thyme, and lemon verbena? Try pineapple sage for a pineapple taste, or try fennel seeds or anise seeds for a licorice taste.

Sugar Substitutes

The American Diabetes Association approves the use of three sugar substitutes in moderate amounts. These are aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and acesulfame potassium (Sweet One). Sugar substitutes have very few calories and will not affect your blood glu­cose level. Sugar substitutes are useful for making foods taste sweet without added carbohydrates or calories.

Acesulfame potassium can be used in baking and cooking. However, the texture of baked goods made with acesul­fame potassium will not be the same as those made with sugar. You might try using half sugar and half acesulfame potassium.

Aspartame can be added to cold foods or to hot foods after they have been cooked. Usually, it should not be used dur­ing baking or cooking. Aspartame tends to lose its sweet­ness when heated or is present for a long time in a cold or not liquid.

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About the Author: Leona Kesler is a head-chef at a very popular food restaurant in New York. Also she is a blogger who shares her experiences, tips, and other informative details about food and cooking. Her recipes are featured on many magazines.

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