If you have diabetes, processed sugar is one of the worst things for your health. But avoiding sugar can be difficult, especially if you have a sweet tooth and your condition is mild at best. Fortunately, there are natural alternatives out there that can help you keep your blood sugar levels under control. However, there might still be many questions about these alternatives, like is honey good for diabetics? Or is stevia an artificial or natural sweetener?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions as we explore some of these natural options so you can make a more informed choice. But first, it’s essential to understand why sugar should be avoided at all costs if you have diabetes.
Why is processed sugar bad for diabetes?
There are many reasons why processed sugar is bad for diabetes. Processed sugar is often high in calories and low in nutrients, which can directly contribute to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Processed sugar can also cause massive spikes in blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes as it can lead to kidney damage. Hence, refined sugar and sugars from simple carbohydrates should generally be avoided. Instead, some diabetics can eat jaggery, for instance, a marginally better alternative.
Natural alternatives for sugar
Now that the dangerous impact of processed sugar is evident, it is time to explore various natural alternatives to refined sugar. Five natural alternatives to sugar are as follows:
1. Coconut Sugar
If you’re looking for a natural alternative to sugar, coconut sugar is a great option. Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the coconut tree, and it has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar, which means it won’t cause your blood sugar to spike as quickly. Coconut sugar is also a good source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium, so it can help to improve your overall health.
For those looking for a natural sugar alternative, honey may be a good option for diabetic individuals. Unlike refined sugars, honey is rich in nutrients and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that honey, used in moderation, can help improve blood sugar control when compared to refined sugar. However, it is still sweeter than granulated sugar, so it must be used sparingly in food. It must be noted that excessive consumption of honey can be as harmful as consuming refined sugar.
Jaggery is a type of sugar made from unrefined cane sugar and is popular in India and other parts of South Asia. It has a deep brown colour and is used as a sweetener in many dishes. Jaggery has been shown to aid in digestion. But, the question is can diabetic people eat jaggery? The consensus is divided on this one. While a recent study found that natural sugar alternatives may help control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, it is unclear if jaggery can be added to this list. With a high glycemic index of 84.4, it is believed by many doctors that consuming jaggery is as bad as refined sugar. However, its other benefits, like its unique antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties, make it a tempting alternative. Although it is best consumed by non-diabetic patients or those with their condition under control.
Dates are a great natural alternative to sugar. They are high in fibre and have a low glycemic index, which makes them perfect for people with diabetes. They also contain minerals and vitamins that are essential for good health. So if you are unsure whether widely available options like honey are good for your particular diabetic condition, then it’s best to stick to dates.
For those wondering if diabetic people can eat jaggery or perhaps even dates, stevia is the perfect alternative. This natural sweetener comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant and is ideal for people with diabetes who want to reduce their sugar intake. It’s available in powder or liquid form and can be used to sweeten coffee, tea, or baked goods. Moreover, it is 300 times sweeter than regular sugar. If you don’t want to use the powered, semi-processed form, you can always use the leaves directly to sweeten your snacks and beverage. Hence, it is the best option for the lot.
If you are looking for a way to reduce sugar intake, consider using one of these natural alternatives. However, be warned that some are not as effective as others, even if they have other therapeutic properties. The bottom line is to consider the nature of your diabetic condition before making a choice. For example, if you have severe diabetes that requires constant monitoring, it’s best to avoid all forms of sweeteners. On the other hand, if it is a relatively mild form of diabetes, you can consider one of the following options, provided your physical activity and medications are in perfect order.