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Can Artificial Sweeteners Raise Blood Sugar?

Artificial sweeteners do not affect blood sugar levels. But here's the catch: They are often paired with other sugar substitutes that do.


Photo: Andrew* (flickr)

If you read the fine print, many 'sugar free' products are not quite what they claim.

People usually drink or eat artificial sweeteners because they have a flavor similar to sugar without all of the calories. They are completely carb-free, which is why they are so useful to people with difficulty maintaining their blood sugar levels.

Artificial sweeteners, on their own, do not affect blood sugar levels. But here’s the catch:

The sweeteners are often paired with other sugar substitutes, like sugar alcohols, in low-calorie and diet foods.

Take a look at the nutrition label. Words ending in “-ol,” like sorbitol, maltitol and xylitol, are usually your sugar alcohols. They contain fewer calories than regular sugar, but don’t be fooled — they can still raise your blood sugar.

If you are trying to manage your blood sugar, these products should still be eaten in moderation. Always read the fine print!

Read More:

  • The Claim – Artificial Sweeteners Can Raise Blood Sugar (NYTimes)
  • Artificial Sweeteners: Any Effect on Blood Sugar? (MayoClinic)

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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