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Living with diabetes: Can diabetics eat brown sugar?

Diabetes affects the body’s ability to manage blood sugar levels. It’s a lifelong disease that necessitates a lifestyle change, especially when it comes to diet.

Constant spikes in blood sugar levels in a diabetic can be dangerous. Their system is weakened, insulin is unable to help in the absorption of sugars into body cells. Failing to manage blood sugar levels can result in damaged vessels and other body organs such as kidneys, eyes, and the heart.

Everyone loves the sweetness that sugar adds to different foodstuffs. It is next to impossible to completely avoid sugar. Diabetics are advised to keep off sweets, sugars, most desserts, etc.

Sugar can be extremely dangerous for a person with type 2 diabetes, but brown sugar is a bit different from white sugar; which leads to this question, “ can diabetics eat brown sugar? The answer is no! Such a downer right? However, an occasional treat wouldn’t hurt much.

Here’s full information on the effects of brown sugar on diabetes.

Does brown sugar cause blood sugar spikes?

does brown sugar cause blood sugar spikes

Brown sugar is extracted from sugarcane or sugar beets just like regular table sugar. Molasses are added to this sugar to make it brown in color and give it a richer taste.

Brown sugar contains 3.5-6.5% molasses. When compared to white sugar, brown sugar is completely or partially unrefined. Therefore, brown sugar boasts of some vitamin and mineral content that is otherwise lost in refining white sugar. Brown sugar has a higher nutritional value when compared to white sugar.

Some brown sugar is made by simply adding molasses to the white sugar.

Does brown sugar cause blood sugar spikes? The answer is yes. To further prove this, let us look at the nutritional value of brown sugar in one tablespoon;

  • Calories 17.5g
  • Protein 0g
  • Fat 0g
  • Carbs 4.51g

White sugar is closely similar to brown sugar nutritionally. It contains 16.2g calories and 4.2g carbs. The idea that brown sugar is good for a diabetic is a myth. Brown sugar is just as dangerous to a diabetic as white sugar. For instance, a bowl of oatmeal contains 25 grams of carbs, adding brown sugar immediately doubles this carb content.  If you have to enjoy an occasional snack, make sure you accompany it with proteins or fiber to manage your blood sugar levels.

As a diabetic, if you have to take sugar opt for brown sugar due to additional nutrients such as iron, calcium, and potassium.

Brown sugar is also an added sugar as opposed to natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products.

Brown sugar alternatives for diabetics

brown sugar alternatives for diabetics

If you need some sweetness in a meal, there are some brown sugar alternatives you can use as opposed to using brown sugar.

  • Use herbal sugar like diabliss. Diabliss has a low glycemic index and is a healthier option compared to brown sugar. It also has some other medicinal advantages like acting as an anti-oxidant and reducing blood sugar spikes.
  • Stevia. Stevia is a natural source of sweetness that is 300 times sweeter than table sugar. Stevia contains zero calories, therefore, has minimal effect on sugar levels. Stevia bears different brand names including Truvia, sweetleaf, and sun crystals. Stevia is a good sugar alternative for diabetics, however, it is more expensive than sugar and its other substitutes. Therefore, you will have to weigh these factors before making a decision. In addition, stevia has an unpleasant aftertaste that puts off some people. Manufacturers, therefore, add other sugars to eliminate the aftertaste. This reduces the nutritional benefit of pure stevia.it has also been reported to cause nausea, bloating, and stomach upset for some people.
  •  Sucralose is also a good brown sugar substitute for diabetics. It is found in bubble gums and baked goods because it retains its taste even in high temperatures. .it is the most popular artificial sweetener. It is approximately 600 times sweeter than table sugar.
  • Tagatose. This is a form of fructose that is almost twice as sweet as sugar. Some fruits such as apples, oranges, and pineapples are sources of tagatose. Tagatose is a low-calorie sweetener that also doubles in as a texturizer and stabilizer. However, it might be hard to get the product and it is quite expensive.
  • Aspartame. It is an artificial sweetener that is about 200 sweeter than table sugar. However, it tends to lose its taste in high temperatures.
  • There are various sweeteners in the market such as xylitol, erythritol, monk fruit, etc. these are low-calorie sweeteners that are ideal for diabetics. These are completely calorie and carb-free but have added flavors and colors to match the taste and appearance of sugar.
  • Fruits. A diabetic can resort to fruits to feed their sugar cravings. fruits such as apples, berries, and citrus are ideal for diabetic patients. Fruits are naturally occurring sugars that are considered generally healthy.

It should be noted that using sweeteners such as honey, molasses, and maple syrup is not advisable. These tend to have the same effects on diabetics as brown sugar.

When choosing a sweetener, use the following guidelines:

  1. Consider the intended use of the artificial sweetener. Some break down in high temperatures therefore are suitable for tabletop uses only.
  2. Taste. Some sugar substitutes have an aftertaste that many people find unpleasant.
  3. Natural versus artificial. You have the choice of whether to use natural sweeteners like stevia or opting for artificial sweeteners. However, using natural sweeteners does not necessarily mean that they are more healthy.
  4. Cost. some sweeteners like stevia are very expensive. When choosing a sweetener, it might be budget-friendly to take one that costs close to table sugar.

Can diabetics eat brown sugar? Well here are the key takeaways

  • Brown sugar is just as harmful as white sugar and should be avoided.
  • Opt for healthier, low-calorie sweeteners such as stevia.

As a diabetic, it is advisable to feed your sugar cravings with fruits instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Mangos, strawberries, and blueberries are good options.

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