Diabetes is on the rise across the globe. Worldwide estimates indicate 1 in 11 adults were living with diabetes (425 million) in 2017, 10 million more than in 2015.1 If you are living with diabetes or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, you know good nutrition is perhaps one of the most important factors in achieving good health. The foods you choose to eat, being physically active, maintaining a normal body weight and taking medications, if recommended, can make a big difference in your daily health.2
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all “diabetic diet.”2 In fact, it is essentially the same balanced and healthy eating plan that everyone, whether or not they have diabetes, should follow. But if you do have diabetes, then managing the amount, quality and timing of the foods you eat and beverages you drink – particularly those containing carbohydrates – becomes even more important. Managing your blood sugar will be easier if you avoid or limit added sugars.2,3 If you are overweight, it is important to eat fewer calories and increase your physical activity.2,3
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association support the use of low-calorie or non-nutritive sweeteners, including stevia, in helping to reduce added sugar intake, thereby assisting in decreasing caloric intake and weight control.4,5
Sweetening with Stevia
Fortunately though, having diabetes does not mean having to give up all of your favorite foods. You can literally have your cake and eat it too – occasionally of course – so long as you work it into your eating plan.
This is where stevia fits in. It is a zero-calorie, plant-based sweetener of natural origin which has been used for hundreds of years dating back to indigenous people in South America. Stevia itself contains no carbohydrates, so it does not independently affect blood sugar or insulin levels. It helps cut sugar and calories in many foods and beverages, while still allowing you to enjoy the sweet tastes you love.
Clinical studies in which stevia replaced some of the sugar and calories in foods showed that these stevia-containing calorie and sugar-reduced foods helped reduce blood sugar levels right after a meal compared to foods where stevia was not incorporated.6,7 Since stevia is sometimes used in combination with other types of sweeteners, it is always important to check the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel for carbohydrate amounts to make sure the product fits into your eating plan.
You will find stevia in a wide range of food and beverages, including teas, soft drinks, juices, yogurt, soymilk, baked goods, cereal, salad dressings, confections and as a tabletop sweetener. Stevia is a great option to use in recipes, too, offering its touch of sweetness and adaptability in baking and cooking.
For ideas on using stevia as a sweet replacement at home, visit our recipe section.
- International Diabetes Federation. New IDF figures show continued increase in diabetes across the globe, reiterating the need for urgent action. 2017. Available at: https://www.idf.org/news/94:new-idf-figures-show-continued-increase-in-diabetes-across-the-globe,-reiterating-the-need-for-urgent-action.html
- World Health Organization. Global Report on Diabetes. Available at: http://www.who.int/diabetes/global-report/en/
- International Diabetes Federation. IDF Clinical Practice Recommendations for Managing Type 2 Diabetes in Primary Care. Available at: https://www.idf.org/e-library/guidelines/128-idf-clinical-practice-recommendations-for-managing-type-2-diabetes-in-primary-care.html.
- Fitch C and Keim KS. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Use of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112:739–58. Available at: https://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(12)00325-5/fulltext
- Gardner C, et. al. Nonnutritive sweeteners: Current use and health perspectives: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. Circulation. 2012;126:509–19. Available at: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/126/4/509.long
- Anton SD, et. al. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite. 2010;55:37–43. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900484/
- Jeppesen PB. Is there a correlation between high sugar consumption and the increase in health problems in Latin America. Chapter 1. Sugar and Modernity in Latin America: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Mariano de Carvalho V, Hojlund S, Jeppesen PB, Simonsen K-M (eds.) Aarhus: Aarhus University Press; 2014. pp. 25-54.