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Diabetes

Sweeteners added in sugar free products

11/30/2009

Question:

I generally notice a lot of sugar free products are sweet in taste so someone told me manufacturing companies add sweeteners in them so what are those sweeteners other than sugars? Are they not harmful for diabetes patients?

Answer:

The sweetness in the taste of sugar-free products comes from artificial sweeteners. Examples of these are acesulfame-potassium, aspartame, neotame, sucralose and saccharin. Because they have more than 100 times the sweetening power of sugar, only a very small amount is needed to make a food product taste sweet. These 'non-nutritive sweeteners', when used in place of sugar, decrease the total carbohydrate and therefore, calories. For people with diabetes this can help with weight and blood sugar control. Each of the 5 non-nutritve sweeteners have been extensively tested and have been approved by the FDA. In fact, the FDA includes a 100-fold safety factor when setting the acceptable daily intake meaning that the allowed amount per day is 1/100 of the amount that is considered safe.

Another category of artificial sweeteners are 'sugar alcohols', such as sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol. They are carbohydrates and do contain some calories although they tend to result in less of an increase in blood glucose levels than other carbohydrates. Large amounts of these can have a laxative effect. Be sure to consult your diabetes educator or registered dietitian about using any artificially sweetened products when it comes to your particular situation.

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Response by:

Margaret G Doyle, RD, LD, CDE Margaret G Doyle, RD, LD, CDE
Formerly
Case Western Reserve University

Laurie   Sadler, MD Laurie Sadler, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University