With the holiday season upon us, many people are concerned over the abundance of sweet treats. While everyone should eat in moderation, diabetics have added concerned over the threat of high blood sugar levels (also known as hyperglycemia). Most baked goods and other sweet desserts are often high in carbohydrate content, and can adversely affect a person’s blood sugar level. Artificial sweeteners, when used in moderation, can assist in keeping a blood sugar level under control, while providing satisfaction for the ‘sweet tooth’.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves artificial sweeteners for use after they have been thoroughly tested. Over the years, there has been continuing debate about the health benefits and possible side effects of artificial sweeteners. Information about artificial sweeteners can be found at the website for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The following is a brief overview of some of the most popular artificial sweeteners. In general, one packet of non-nutritive artificial sweetener replaces 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. To substitute larger amounts of artificial sweetener, check with the packaging for specific substituting instructions.
Aspartame has approximately 200 times the sweetening power of sugar and is sold as NutraSweet and Equal. Saccharin has 300 times the sweetening of sugar and is sold as Sweet’n Low. Sucralose has 600 times the sweetening power of sugar and is sold under the brand name Splenda.
Check with your local American Diabetes Association chapter for more ideas on healthy, holiday cooking. Happy holidays.