Monday, September 17, 2012

Diabetics and Sugar: Should Diabetics Ever Consume Raw Sugar?


Sugar is usually treated as if it were a poison by all reasonable diabetics, but the fact is, most diabetics use at least a little sugar in their day to day diets. Sugar in very small amounts, up to about a teaspoon (5 grams), can usually be tolerated. That's not enough sugar to get a sugar high, but it's certainly enough to caramelize roasted vegetables, to sweeten a hot beverage, or to bring out colors and flavors of that small serving of fresh fruit.

Obviously, diabetics need to limit the amount of sugar they consume. And  the kind of sugar consumed can make a big difference, too. Especially if you are seeking to limit or eliminate animal products, there are big differences between brands of white sugar.


Many diabetics get much higher blood sugar levels after they eat foods to which they are sensitive or allergic. For instance, I myself get higher blood sugar levels after eating bacon and eggs without any kind of carb than when he just drinks a glass of juice. Not everyone will have that strong a reaction, but animal product additives that are included in table sugar can make blood sugar levels go off a lot more than when the sugar consumed is raw.

The ingredient that makes sugar even more "sugary" for some but not all, type 2 diabetics is bone char. Many brands of both white and brown sugar, and the white and brown sugar that are used to bulk up some brands of "no-calorie sweetener" (although not any brand of stevia), are filtered through ash from incinerated animal bones. If you happen to be extremely sensitive to beef, you may have a reaction to refined sugar, too. (And if you choose to avoid beef for religious reasons, you may want to avoid these products, too.)

In the United States, Domino, California Sugar, and Hawaiian Sugar (except for Hawaiian Sugar "Washed" Sugar) are all made with animal products. Country Cane, Florida Crystals, Jack Frost, Pillsbury, Southern Belle, and Supreme sugars do not contain animal byproducts. If you have to use sugar, use as little as possible, and use certified organic or at least animal byproducts free brands.

Daily sugar intake grams for diabetics: Best, zero, usually tolerable for maintaining normal blood sugar range, up to 15-20 (60-80 calories or 4-5 teaspoons in an entire day) if not consumed at the same time, and not in addition to other "fast," high glycemic index carbohydrates.

FAQ about sugar grams:

How many grams of sugar in a teaspoon? Usually 4 to 5.

How many grams of sugar in Coca-Cola (20 oz/600 ml)? 60 grams/300 calories, or 4 or 5 times more sugar than you can safely consume in an entire day.'

Amount of sugar in apple pie? In a whole pie, about 240 grams/960 calories. In a slice, 40 grams/160 calories, still about twice as much as most diabetics should consume in an entire day.

Photo credit: Fritz (own work), via Wikimedia Commons.

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