Will honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup raise my blood glucose like sugar?
Honey, agave nectar, real maple syrup, brown sugar, and white sugar all have a similar effect on your blood glucose (or blood sugar). All of these sweeteners provide carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars, so they are digested quickly and will raise blood glucose.
Honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup have about the same amount of calories and carbohydrates per serving as regular white sugar.
It is okay for people with diabetes to use these sweeteners sparingly. When you decide to include them in your meal plan, you should account for honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup the same way you account for regular sugar. Consider portion sizes and the amount of carbohydrate in when planning meals. A comparison of a few sweeteners is shown below:
1 tablespoon honey = about 64 calories, 17 grams of carb
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar = about 52 calories, 13 grams of carb
1 tablespoon white or granulated sugar = about 49 calories, 13 grams of carb
1 tablespoon agave nectar = about 45 calories, 12 grams of carb
1 tablespoon maple syrup = about 52 calories, 13 grams of carb
1 packet of artificial sweetener = about 4 calories, <1 gram of carb
The one difference between these sweeteners is their glycemic index, which is one tool you can use in diabetes meal planning. Honey and agave nectar have a lower glycemic index than sugar. This means that white sugar and brown sugar will raise blood glucose a little faster than if you were to have an equal amount of honey. Agave nectar has a particularly low glycemic index. However, the rate at which these sweeteners increase blood glucose changes depending on what foods they are eaten with and several other factors, which can make the glycemic index a complicated tool to use. Read more about glycemic index on diabetes.org.
You may notice in the list above that artificial sweeteners are the lowest in calories and carbohydrates. There are several different artificial sweeteners that you can buy in stores under various brand names: stevia, aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin, or sucralose. These are safe for use for people with diabetes in moderate amounts and can help to curb your sweet tooth without adding as many calories and carbs.
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