Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners.


There are many types of sugar, the chemical names for them all end with '-ose'.

From the diabetic's viewpoint the commonly used table sugar (sucrose) is best eaten only in limited quantities in a meal.

Don't eat or drink it on its own, say as sugar in tea/coffee as sugars disolved in liquids are very quickly converted to blood sugar.

Nutritionally too table sugar, glucose even refined fructose (fruit sugar) are little more than energy sources.

All are highly refined products, giving few of the health benefits that other sugar sources like milk, fruit and vegetables give.

Carbohydrate in table sugar has about the same effect as the carbohydrate in white bread in increasing blood sugar levels.

Table Sugar is a source of energy and has little other nutritional value. Other foods even white bread are better for you.

Type of SugarEffect on Blood Sugar (Glucose) LevelTypical Sources
CelluloseNot digestable by humans. The main source of fibre in the diet.Plant cell walls
FructoseModerately quick increase, faster if taken in liquid formFruit, Vegetables, Honey & Sap
LactoseModerately quick increaseMilk, Cottage Cheese
MaltoseModerately quick increaseProduced during the digestion of Starch
SucroseQuick increase especially if dissolved in liquidTable Sugar
Glucose (also known as dextrose)Very quick increaseAdded to some processed foods

Sucrose, Maltose & Lactose

Chemically Sucrose, Maltose and Lactose breakdown into other simpler types of sugar when digested, these are -

Sucrose = Fructose + Glucose
Lactose = Galactose + Glucose
Maltose = Glucose + Glucose + Water

Bulk Sweeteners or Polyols.

Bulk Sweeteners (Polyols) are still carbohydrates but they usually have less calories than table sugar (sucrose). They will be however still be converted to blood sugar (glucose) but at a much slower rate than table sugar. Some are unsuitable for baking as high temperatures make them taste bitter.

Bulk Sweeteners are used in many low sugar and sugar free products although in to large a quantity they can act as a laxative and cause diarrhoea. Some sites give a recommendation of a maximum 25g (1oz) per day limit.

Bulk Sweetenes are also known as sugar alcohols as chemically they are related to alcohol but they have no alcoholic effect.

Bulk Sweeteners are frequently used in special 'Diabetic Foods'. 'Diabetic Foods' are typically expensive and high in fat and not recommended by Diabetes professionals!

On a positive note, the sweetener Xylitol (E967) helps prevent tooth decay. Made from birch trees it has a mild mint flavour and is used in some chewing gums and mouth freshener mints.

Polyols or Bulk SweetenersEffect on Blood Sugar (Glucose) Levels
Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolate (HSH)Slow Increase
Lacitol (E966)Slow Increase
Mannitol (E421)Slow Increase
Sorbitol (E420)Slow Increase
Xilitol (E967)Slow Increase
ErythritolSlow Increase
Isomalt (E953)Slow Increase

Intense Sweeteners.

Intense Sweeteners have no effect on raising blood sugar levels. Some people however may be intolerant of certain intense sweeteners even at doses below the advisory daily intake limit.

Recommendations are to mix intense sweetener types if you are near the advisory daily intake (ADI) limit. Some of the commercial products are mixtures of these sweeteners anyway.

Some of these products have been around for a long time too. Saccharin for instance has been in use for over a 100 years, Aspartame for over 25 years. Where as Sucralose (brand name Splenda) was only recently authorised for use in the UK in September 2002.

Intense Sweetener
Additive Number
Relatively Sweet compared to Table Sugar ADI for 70 Kilo adult (per Kilo)

Note 70 Kilo is about 11 stone or 154lbs.

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