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How Much Sugar Can a Diabetic Have?

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Updated February 18, 2014

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Question: I'm a diabetic, and I've changed my diet to add more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. I'm not sure how much sugar I can still have. I don't mind giving up candy bars, but I still like to put sugar in my coffee.

Cary - About.com User

Answer: Sugar, or more specifically sucrose (table sugar), can make up to 10 to 35 percent of your caloric intake, as long as it takes the place of starchy carbohydrates you're currently consuming. According to an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics review of the research, replacing starch with that amount of sucrose on a daily basis won't have a negative affect as long as you don't increase your total calories. If you need 2,000 calories per day, that's 50 to 175 grams per day. A candy bar can easily have 30 grams sugar, and a can of sugar-sweetened soda has around 40 grams sugar. A teaspoon of granulated sugar has 4 grams sugar.

Keep in mind, foods that you don't think of sugary may still have some sugar, so you need to keep track -- check the Nutrition Facts labels.

Just because you can swap your starches for sugary foods doesn't mean you should, at least not on a regular basis. You need to be careful that you don't take in more calories than you need -- sugary foods are energy-dense and usually aren't as nutritious. Whole grain cereals, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, barley, oats, and brown rice that have fiber, vitamins and minerals that a candy bar or piece of just cake doesn't have. It's important to eat a balanced diet and keep your daily carbohydrate intake (from both starches and sugars) consistent from day to day. Speak to your health care provider, dietitian, nutritionist, or diabetes educator before making any changes in your diet.

Sources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Evidence Analysis Library. "Recommendations Summary: Diabetes Mellitus (DM): Sucrose and Diabetes" Accessed July 2, 2013.http://andevidencelibrary.com.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Evidence Analysis Library. "What is the relationship between sucrose and metabolic outcomes in persons with type 1 and type 2 diabetes?" Accessed July 2, 2013.http://andevidencelibrary.com.

American Diabetes Association. "Make Your Carbs Count." Accessed July 6, 2013. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/make-your-carbs-count.html.

Maher AK. "Simplified Diet Menu." Eleventh Edition, Hoboken NJ, USA: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, October 2011.

United States Department of Agriculture. "." Accessed July 6, 2013. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov.

 

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