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As the American Diabetes Month draws to a close, we get into full swing for holiday eating. If you have diabetes, do you have to avoid all sugar-containing foods? The role of sugar in preventing or treating this disease confuses many. Test your knowledge by answering the following statements as true or false.

1.         Sugar in the diet can cause diabetes.

2.         Excessive weight is one of the greatest risks for developing type 2 diabetes.

3.         Total carbohydrate affects blood glucose levels (sugar in the blood) more than sugar.

4.         Those with diabetes can have desserts made with sugar if they substitute small amounts for other carbohydrate-containing foods.

5.         Carbohydrates include sugar, starch, and fiber.

If you answered the first question as false and the rest as true, congratulations. You understand the relationship of sugar in the diet and the condition of diabetes.

The idea that sugar can cause diabetes is a myth. Eating sugar has nothing to do with acquiring the disease. Regardless of the source of calories, weight (BMI over 25)  is a major factor in developing type 2 diabetes.

In past years, researchers suspected that sugar increased blood glucose levels, but the total amount of carbohydrate consumed has more effect. Those with diabetes, however, should use discretion and save sugar-sweetened foods for special occasions.

Carbohydrates are found in the following food sources.

Sugars

  • Natural sugars: fruits (fructose) and milk (lactose)
  • Added sugars: table, brown or powdered sugar (sucrose), molasses, honey, maple syrup and other less well-known sources

Starches or complex carbohydrates

  • Starchy vegetables: sweet potatoes, white potatoes, corn, green peas, and lima beans
  • Legumes: dried beans (pinto, navy, kidney) and peas (black-eyed and split)
  • Grains: breads, cereal, pasta, and most cakes and pastries

Fiber may benefit health in several ways. It helps regulate digestion, provide a sense of fullness, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce possibilities of colon cancer. Adults need about 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. Foods containing larger amounts of fiber include:

  • Beans and legumes: as listed above
  • Fruits and vegetables: especially those eaten with the peel or seeds (berries)
  • Whole grain products: cereals, breads, and pasta
  • Nuts: tree nuts and peanuts provide excellent sources of fiber, but limit the serving size because small amounts contain lots of calories.

Check labels. First, note the serving size and then the total amount of carbohydrate. Labels list each sugar, but remember, it is the total amount of carbohydrate that affects blood sugar levels most.

You don’t have to skip all desserts through the holidays. If you have diabetes, pamper your sweet-tooth without creating problems by using caution and remembering the above suggestions.

For more information see  http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/sweeteners-and-desserts.html?

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