Sugar substitutes

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
While limited amounts of sugar are allowed for most diabetics (die-uh-BET-icks), you can often save calories, by using a sugar substitute. There are two main types of artificial sweeteners: nutritive, (NEW-trih-tiv), and non-nutritive. The nutritive sweetener group is made up of sugar alcohols, like sorbitol (SORE-bih-tol), xylitol (ZY-lih-tol), and mannitol (MAN-ih-tol). Sugar alcohols have slightly fewer calories than regular sugar, and don't usually raise your blood glucose (GLUE-coas) levels as much. However, large amounts can cause gas, bloating, or diarrhea, so it's best to limit your consumption. The non-nutritive sugar substitutes include aspartame (ASS-par-tame), saccharin (SACK-uh-rin), and acesulfame-K (ACE-sul-fame K). These substances have no calories, and won't raise your blood sugar. Aspartame and saccharin are available at grocery stores and restaurants. Both have endured some controversy as to their safety. But for now, the official guidelines are that breastfeeding women avoid saccharin, and that people with phenylketonuria (FEE-nul-key-tah-NUR-ee-ah) shouldn't use aspartame. Acesulfame-K, or 'Ace K', can be found as a tabletop sweetener, and is also in many products, such as chewing gum, beverages, baked goods, frozen desserts, and sweet sauces. Unlike aspartame, Ace-K retains its sweetness under heat, making it suitable for baking. For the latest information on sugar substitutes, talk to a doctor.

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