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Sugar Dextrose & Diabetes

by
author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
Sugar Dextrose & Diabetes
Control portion sizes when eating sweets. Photo Credit iplan/a.collectionRF/amana images/Getty Images

Having diabetes means you must take special care to monitor your carbohydrate intake as part of a plan to keep your blood glucose within a healthy range. Reading labels, controlling portion sizes and eating a healthy, balanced diet is all part of the plan. You must pay close attention to foods with added sugars. Many sweeteners, such as dextrose, add extra calories and carbohydrates to your meal. Work with a registered dietitian on ways you can include sweets in moderation in a diabetes meal plan.

Dextrose and Blood Sugar

Dextrose is a commercial product used to sweeten a wide variety of foods. Some sweeteners, such as sugar alcohols, have very little effect on blood sugar. Dextrose, on the other hand, is form of crystalline glucose -- a type of sugar that does raise blood glucose. Glucose is known as a simple sugar because it's the smallest unit of carbohydrate. This means glucose is absorbed easily into the bloodstream, resulting in a rapid rise in blood glucose.

Where It's Found

Manufacturers use dextrose in various baked goods such as cookies, crackers and pretzels, as well as custards and sherbet. It's also used in baking products such as cake mixes and frosting. Most dextrose listed on food labels is made from cornstarch, according to the Sugar Association. It may be listed as "corn sugar" on the ingredient label. Dextrose made from rice or wheat may be listed as "rice sugar" or "wheat sugar."

What Really Counts

Whether it's dextrose or any other sweetener, what really matters is the total amount of carbohydrates in a given meal. To keep your blood sugar healthy, a common approach is to eat a consistent amount of carbohydrates per meal, without going over a predetermined maximum. Sticking to about 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal is usually best, according to the American Diabetes Association. It may be more or less depending on how well-controlled your diabetes is, however.

Sweet Foods and Diabetes

Because dextrose is found in sweet foods such as baked goods, moderation is crucial. It's best to focus on nutrient-dense foods and save sweets and desserts as a once-in-a-while treat, according to the American Diabetes Association. To include sweets in your meal, you can cut back on other carbs so that you can remain within the 45 to 60 grams per meal range. If you want to have cookies with your meal, swap out another carb such as bread, to keep your total carbs within range. Other times when you have a sweet craving, have fruit or yogurt with fruit.

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