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  • What is best, Sugar or Sugar-free food?

    Confused between the use of sugar or sugar free food? Looking out for relevant information for impact on diabetic patients? Find advice from experts on this page for all your queries.

    As diabetes is on the rise, many companies are coming up with "sugar-free" or "no artificial sugar added" labels on food items. I happen to watch a video on FB which said that in actual, sugar-free or "no artificial sugar added" contains more sugar in it but is written with different names. As food/items high in sugar increase your risk for cavities, heart disease and even our health. Our Experts kindly clear my doubts on the following:
    a) What is the difference between Sugar, sugar-free, no added sugar and unsweetened food/items?
    b) What are the different types of Sugars available in the market?
    c) What are different sugar alternatives or sugar replacements available in the market and how are they made?
    d) What precaution should a diabetes person/patient keep in mind when buying items that have Sugar, sugar-free, no added sugar label on it?
    e) Is it good for a person to completely avoid sugar from his diet and why?
  • Answers

    5 Answers found.
  • Sugars are organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They are basically short-chain carbohydrates. Sweet comes from sugar only. Compounds having chemical names ending with -ose are sugars. SYcrose and fructose are examples for the same. Liquid sugars are called Syrups. There are many compounds to be called sugars. Honey, cane sugar Juice, fructose, sucrose and dextrose are some examples for sugars. The sugar what we eat is the extract from cane sugar.
    There are four types of sugars. Glucose is the sugar available in our blood. Fructose is the Sugar from fruits. Sucrose is the sugar what we use. It will contain 50% glucose and 50% Fructose. This is not a simple mixture of these two. These two are bonded chemically in sugar.
    High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is made from corn starch. Glucose % generally in this will be around 45 to58. Fructose will be 42 to 58%.
    Completely avoiding sugar is not good at the same time too much sugar is also good. Sugar from Vegetables and fruits is good for health. But the added sugars like cool drinks etc are not good for health. Up to 10% of our total calories intake can be from sugar. But not more than that. We consume more rice and wheat which are contributing to starch and more calories from it. These foods will get digested quickly and you will tend to eat more and too often. Instead of that if you eat more vegetables and fruits they will take more time to get digested and that will make you eat less. Foods having added sugars are not recommended. Even these will also contain naturally occurring sugar but not added sugars. FDA accepts 0.5% sugar in sugar-free products also and that will come from naturally occurring products like fruits or vegetables. saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose are the artificial sugars approved by FDA. Stevia also has FDA approval. The sugar-free will contain a small percentage of these artificial sugars which give sweet taste to the product. These sugar-free products are not recommended and they will have side effects. But diabetic people should not use these products. They are not good for them.

    always confident

  • The item sugar do not related to the sugar as told for diabetics.The increase or decrease level of glucose in blood of one is tested to see whether diabetic or not. The lower level of insulin in the body only shows the increased level of glucose. To induct the insulin level doctors are suggesting medicines and in case of alarming level they suggest insulin injection. But as far as a doctor known well to me the insulin injection should totally be avoided and through medicine and intake of good food system itself keep the glucose level normal. According to the doctor, avoiding this food or that food and taking only chappathis instead of rice are not necessary but taking his regular food at correct intervals and correct reduced quantity is enough for them. South Indians are normally suggested to take rotis instead of rice is just to reduce the quantity of intake and no harm in rice/milk/white sugar etc., but the intake should be reduced according to the level of glucose in one's body. The medicines and suggested food items also differ from person to person who are designated diabetic. One diabetic patient never compare another for intake of food or medicines on any account, instead they should consult their known doctor who may be generalist as he/she only knows your body condition well rather any other doctor. On his/her suggestion you may approach a specialist if necessary.

  • With the high rise of Diabetes, people have been conscious in relation to their food intake and at best, sugary items are being replaced either with stevia or other convenient chemicals not affecting their blood sugar levels. There are certain questions raised by the author and its answer will follow number wise given below -
    a)Sugar Free would denote to naturally occurring sugar devoid of artificial sweetener or sugar alcxohols added to enhance flavour of the items such as candy, chewing gums etc
    No added sugar would mean that no sugar has been added in the bevarage or in any food item but it may contain natural sugar linked to that food.
    Unsweetened food would mean that there is no addition of added sugar from any external source.
    b) Different types of sugars available in the market -
    1) Granulated Sugar
    2) Custer Sugar
    3) Confectionary Sugar
    4) Pearl Sugar
    5) Sanding Sugar
    6) Cane Sugar
    7) Demerara Sugar
    8) Turbinado Sugar
    9) Muskovado Sugar
    10) Light Brown Sugar
    11) Dark Brown Sugar,
    c) We have different sugar substitutes such as Aspartame, Sucralose, Neotame, Saccharin, Acesulfame Potassium, Advantame being used to enjoy the sugary test.
    Food additives need the certification of FDA and sweeteners require a GRAS document to prove the safety of the product.
    Aspartame can be prepared with the synthesis of phenylalanine when the reaction is allowed to proceed of this substance with methanols. Finally it is combined with aspartic acid resulting in formation of aspartame 5. It is again subjected to fermentation process so as to get the end product Aspartame.
    d) The best way to avoid all such products marketed by the commercial companies since they add preservatives to enhance the taste of the product apart from its enhancement of shell life.Hence for the effective control of diabetes, it would be better to avoid such products. Moreover, the formulations showing in the labels is not indicative of true compositions sometimes.
    e) Complete elimination of sugar is rather difficult since some quantity of natural sugar is always present in all the grains such as gram, wheat, rice, skimmed milk etc. But there are varieties of foods and fruits having low glycemic index below 45 such as Apples, Guava, One small cup of curd made from low fat milk, Oats and Cucumber etc.
    As far as possible avoid sugary items. Avoid sugar in your cup of tea. Initially you may not like the taste but later you will accustomed to it.

  • a) What is the difference between Sugar, sugar-free, no added sugar, and unsweetened food/items?
    We understand Sugar as the white crystals which are very sweet and which we use for our coffee, tea, juices, and other foods and sweets. However, for one who studies Chemistry, it denotes a lot of members in the chemical family of 'Carbohydrates'. They are subdivided into Monosaccharides, Disaccharides, and so on.
    It is generally believed that the common white Sugar is not good for diabetic people. However as it is difficult for many to avoid the sweet taste in their daily food and drinks, there came some 'sugar substitutes' which have slightly different chemical composition, but sweet same or more even in very small quantities. When we read Sugar fee or o-sugar added it just means that the 'common' sugar is not added.

    b) What are the different types of Sugars available in the market?
    Though the common major source of Sugar is Sugar cane, we get the usable Sugar after it undergoes various industrial processes, and purification and refining. Such well purified and refined sugar is what we commonly us the white table Sugar and called 'Granulated Sugar'.
    For the various uses and preservation, the cane sugar is added with certain things, coloured or unbleached and unrefined. For example 'Confectioner's Sugar is mixed with certain starch and is used in Bakery mostly for decoration of sweets etc.
    Caster Sugar is a very finely granulated form, and so easy to use in syrups, etc. Coarse sugar is a larger size, not easily dissolvable and less white form sugar. Demerara sugar and Cane sugar ones with less refining and retaining the brown colour of the molasses. There a few more varieties but we usually do not come across them in daily us except the few from narrated here.

    c) What are different sugar alternatives or sugar replacements available in the market and how are they made?
    Bearing a similar chemical name 'Sacharin' was one of the earliest sugar alternatives. Stevia – (the extract from Stevia plant) is a sugar substitute with many times the sweetness of sugar. Sucralose is a sugar substitute, derived from the common sugar itself by further processing and extraction. Aspartame, Neotame, Advantame, etc are also artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are many many times sweeter than sugar and so need very little quantity. They also have nil or negligible calories.
    These are marketed in different brand names.

    d)What precaution should a diabetes person/patient keep in mind when buying items that have Sugar, sugar-free, no added sugar label on it?
    & e) Is it good for a person to completely avoid sugar from his diet and why?
    As our body needs sugars (carbohydrates) it is not correct to avoid sugars (carbohydrates) altogether.
    For a diabetic person, it is preferable if he can fully avoid refined white sugar or regulate it as per his doctor's advice based on the monitoring. However, if it is not easy to avoid sweet taste in daily coffee, tea, etc, then the next best is to use the sugar substitutes in moderation. For this also it is better to consult one's doctor. Not to deprive the body of its natural need for sugar and avoid sugar craving, naturally occurring sugars like permitted fruits can be consumed. However, a diagnosed diabetic should consult the doctor in this regard.

  • What we require for a good health is protein, carbohydrates, fibres, minerals, nutrients, water etc and these are to be taken in a balanced way. All these are important for maintaining a good health but can create misbalance in the body if taken in a haphazard manner. Sugar is basically a carbohydrate and taking it in more quantity can invite so many problems in the body and those who are having diabetic conditions would be affected more by it. We get sugar from various foods in different proportions and over and above we take sweets etc also time to time especially during the festival times. This pattern of life style of many people is generally very faulty and due to it they are consuming much quantity of the sugar in their daily lives than that is required by the body. Sugar is carbohydrate and gives instant energy to the body but it does not mean that we should take is mindlessly.

    As people are becoming health conscious day by day and want to avoid the sugar or sugar items, the companies are supplying some sugar free items to attract such people to its product. So, either they would not add sugar to it or add some chemical substitute which is sweet and would replace the sugar but not harmful for the human beings. It is not advisable to stop the sugar intake in our lives as some amount of sugar is a must. There are some foods which give carbohydrate and sugar to us and if we take them regularly we need not to take extra sugar. These are wheat, maize, corn, millet, oats, rice, flour, pasta, noodles, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, fruits etc. They all provide energy to us and can meet about 50% of our daily calorie requirements.

    Thoughts exchanged is knowledge gained.

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