Brown Sugar for Diabetes
Avoiding sweets, sugars, and desserts is an integral part of the diabetes lifestyle. Most people see brown sugar as a healthy alternative to white sugar — the latter is “deemed risky” for a diabetic person. However, speculations as to whether brown sugar, by itself, is healthy exists.
Overall, this sugar form is used in various baked foods and culinary uses, and there are claims that brown sugar is good for diabetes. This article explored the possible benefits of taking brown sugar for diabetes and answers the question of how much sugar a diabetic can consume.
- Protein 0.12 g
- Carbohydrate 98.1 g
- Fat 0 g
- Fiber 0 g
- Sugar 97 g
- Cholesterol 0 g
Nutritional Benefits of Brown Sugar
According to the USDA, one teaspoon of brown sugar contains 15 calories, 4 g of carbohydrates, with zero fat, protein, and sodium. Its calorie content closely trails white sugar’s (16 cal per teaspoon), meaning that excessive intake of brown sugar, just like white sugar, can still lead to weight gain.
In addition, sucrose is the main constituent of brown sugar, and it has a medium glycemic index (GI) of 65. This means that an abnormally high consumption of it can cause surges in blood sugar levels.
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Why Brown Sugar Is Good for Diabetes
Here are some reasons you may consider consuming brown sugar.
Provides Energy Boost
This sugar, like any other simple carbohydrate, gives the body a boost of energy, making it a popular addition to morning coffee. It can, however, only supply energy for a short time due to its lack of nutrients, which will leave you wanting more.
Limited Intake Might Help With Weight Loss
Although overeating brown sugar isn't recommended, its molasses content could increase metabolism and satiation, further aiding weight reduction.
Offers Antiseptic Properties
The antiseptic qualities of brown sugar aid the healing of small scrapes and bruises, which is helpful for people with diabetes — diabetics experience slower recovery following damage to blood vessels. Namely, brown sugar has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities, which may help avoid infection in the cut.
The Risks of Brown Sugar Consumption
While brown sugar may present a handful of potential benefits, it does pack many negative consequences as well, especially when taken in excess, as highlighted below.
Presents Cardiovascular Risks
Excessive brown sugar intake yields abnormally high insulin levels, which might interfere with arterial health. Namely, by making it easier for specific lipids like cholesterol to adhere easily to the vessel walls, it inflames, stiffens, and thickens the arterial walls. This stresses the heart, evolving into heart illnesses like heart attacks, heart failure, as well as a stroke.
In addition, abnormally high levels of sugar in your diet could be a contributing factor to hypertension. Notably, certain scientific reviews link the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) to high blood pressure and a higher incidence of hypertension.
Worsens Joint Pain
Most diabetics suffer from joint pain, presenting yet another reason to avoid brown sugar and other sweet products. Because of the inflammation they generate in the body, excessive sweets consumption (made with brown sugar) has been shown to aggravate joint discomfort. Sugar consumption has also been linked to an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Could Affect Pancreas Function
Your pancreas produces insulin when you eat. However, in type 2 diabetes patients with impaired insulin, excessive brown sugar intake prompts the pancreas to supply even more insulin. On the one hand, this results in an overworked pancreas and puts it on track for eventual failure.
On the other hand, an increased blood sugar and insulin level ensues, resulting in a worsened diabetes condition, putting you at risk of associated complications.
Promotes Hunger and Weight Gain
When it comes to weight management, brown sugar does more damage than it helps. Since it doesn’t contain protein and fiber, the body burns through sugar quicker, resulting in mindless and even obsessive munching. Another plausible explanation is that although sugar may satisfy our taste senses, it doesn't provide satiation.
This isn’t beneficial for diabetics as excessive weight gain puts you at a heightened risk of developing diabetes complications like cardiovascular disorders.
Research on Brown Sugar and Diabetes
Not much research has been conducted on the effects associated with the use of brown sugar for diabetes, mainly because there’s very little difference between brown sugar and white sugar.
Sugar consumption may increase blood pressure, a significant risk factor for heart disease, according to research. Persons who consume at least 25% of their total calories in the form of sugar have a doubled chance of mortality due to heart disease compared to those whose diets offered below 10% added sugar.
Consuming too much sugar has also been associated with weight gain and obesity, as well as risk factors for heart disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to a 2016 study published in the journal Nutrients.
Is Brown Sugar Safe for Diabetics?
Brown sugar is good for diabetes only when consumed in limited quantities. Moreover, there aren't enough nutritional differences between brown and white sugar to make a substantial difference. Overall, try not to consume more than the American Heart Association (AHA)-recommended maximum daily intake of six and nine teaspoons for women and men, respectively — or a maximum of 10% of daily calorie intake from added sugar.
It is a fallacy to think that swapping brown sugar for white sugar is beneficial to people with diabetes. Brown sugar can be just as harmful to diabetics' health as white sugar. Hence, they should both be consumed with discretion, according to the outlined recommendations.
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