Can Splenda or Equal Raise Your Blood Sugar?

When you have diabetes, you are careful to avoid sugar and sweet foods to better control blood sugar levels. However, if you have a craving for sweets, it can sometimes be hard to resist a sugary indulgence. Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Equal are alternatives to real sugar. These products add sweetness without raising your blood sugar levels.

A bowl filled with white sugar substitute. (Image: panco971/iStock/Getty Images)

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are used in place of regular table sugar. The sweeteners are often made from natural substances, but they are many times sweeter than regular sugar. The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, must approve artificial sweeteners for use by the public. Splenda and Equal have both received FDA approval. For people looking to lower their calorie intake, these products are a convenient alternative, since they add almost zero calories to your diet. An added bonus for diabetics is that these products do not raise blood sugar levels.

Blood Sugar

Carbohydrate foods, which include sugars, are the only food group that can raise blood sugars. Living with diabetes can make it hard to keep blood sugars from rising too high or dipping too low. Avoiding all sweetened foods can be difficult, and doing so severely limits your diet choices. Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Equal provide a wider variety of foods to choose from, making it easier to stick to a balanced diet that maintains stable blood sugar levels.

Splenda

Splenda is a zero-calorie, zero carbohydrate sweetener made from sucralose. Scientific studies have shown that Splenda has no effect on short-term or long-term blood sugar control. Your body does not recognize Splenda as a carbohydrate, so it is not metabolized. Diabetic meal plans categorize Splenda as a "free" food, meaning it contributes no carbohydrates. Splenda has also been deemed safe for pregnant women, which is particularly important to women who become diabetic while pregnant -- a condition known as gestational diabetes.

Equal

Equal is also a zero-calorie sweetener. Aspartame is the artificial sweetening ingredient in Equal. The American Diabetes Association has stated that aspartame is safe for diabetics to use, as it sweetens food but does not contribute calories or increase blood sugar levels. Like Splenda, scientific research has shown that Equal does not affect short- or long-term blood sugar control. Equal has also been approved as safe for use during pregnancy.

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