Sweeteners that increase blood glucose (sugar) levels

Sweetener Forms & uses Other things you should know

Sugars (some examples)

  • Brown sugar
  • Maltodextrins
  • Icing sugar
  • Agave syrup
  • Invert sugar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • White sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Fructose
  • Maple syrup
  • Glucose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Lactose
  • Honey
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose
  • Barley malt
  • Used to sweeten foods and beverages
  • May be found in medications
  • Sugars are carbohydrates that can affect your blood glucose (sugar), weight and blood fats.
  • There is no advantage to those with diabetes in using one type of sugar over another.
  • Sugars may be eaten in moderation by people with diabetes. Up to 10 per cent of the days calories can come from added sugar. Their effect on blood glucose levels will vary. Talk to your dietitian about how to fit sugars into your meal plan.

Sweeteners that don't increase blood glucose (sugar) levels

Sweetener Forms & uses Others things you should know

Sugar alcohols & polydextrose

  • Lactitol
  • Xylitol
  • Maltitol
  • Polydextrose
  • Mannitol
  • Isomalt
  • Polyols
  • Palatinit
  • Sorbitol
  • Polyol syrups
  • Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)
  • Used to sweeten foods labelled “sugar free” or “no added sugar”
  • May be found in cough and cold syrups and other liquid medications (e.g. antacids)
  • Sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols. Small amounts are found naturally in fruits and vegetables. They can also be manufactured.
  • They are only partly absorbed by your body, have fewer calories than sugar and have no major effect on blood glucose (sugar).
  • Check product labels for the number of grams of sugar alcohols per serving. If you eat more than 10 grams of sugar alcohols a day, you may experience side effects such as gas, bloating or diarrhea.
  • Talk to your dietitian if you are carbohydrate counting and want to use foods sweetened with sugar alcohols.

Health Canada has approved the following sweeteners as safe if taken in amounts up to the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). These sweeteners may also be used in medications. Please read the label. Ingredients may change. New products may also be available.

Sweetener Common/brand name Forms & uses Other things you should know
Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K)
  • Not available for purchase as a single ingredient
  • Added to packaged foods and beverages only by food manufacturers
  • Safe in pregnancy*
  • ADI = 15 mg/kg body weight per day. For example, a 50 kg (110 lb) person could have 750 mg of Ace-K per day. One can of diet pop contains about 42 mg of Ace-K.
Aspartame
  • Equal®
  • NutraSweet®
  • Private label brand
  • Available in packets, tablets or granulated form
  • Added to drinks, yogurts, cereals, low-calorie desserts, chewing gum and many other foods
  • Flavour may change when heated
  • Safe in pregnancy*
  • ADI = 40 mg/kg body weight per day. For example, a 50 kg (110 lb) person could safely have 2000 mg of aspartame per day. One can of diet pop may contain up to 200 mg of aspartame.
Cyclamate
  • Sucaryl®
  • Sugar Twin®
  • Sweet’N Low®
  • Private label brand
  • Available in packets, tablets, liquid and granulated form
  • Not allowed to be added to packaged foods and beverages
  • Flavour may change when heated
  • Safe in pregnancy* (Be cautious of exceeding ADI)
  • ADI = 11 mg/kg body weight per day. For example, a 50 kg (110 lb) person could have 550 mg of cyclamate per day. One packet of Sugar Twin® contains 264 mg of cyclamate.
Saccharin
  • Hermesetas®
  • Available as tablets
  • Not allowed to be added to packaged foods and beverages
  • Safe in pregnancy*
  • ADI = 5 mg/kg body weight per day. For example, a 50 kg (110 lb) person could have 250 mg of saccharin per day. One tablet of Hermesetas® contains 12 mg of saccharin.
  • Available only in pharmacies
Sucralose
  • Splenda®
  • Available in packets or granulated form. Added to packaged foods and beverages
  • Can be used for cooking and baking
  • Safe in pregnancy*
  • ADI = 9 mg/kg body weight per day. For example, a 50 kg (110 lb) person could have 450 mg of sucralose per day. One packet of Splenda® contains 12 mg of sucralose; one cup (250 mL) contains about 250 mg of sucralose.
Steviol glycosides

Stevia-based sweeteners such as:

  • Stevia
  • Truvia
  • Krisda
  • Pure Via
  • Table top sweeteners
  • Added to drinks, breakfast cereals, yogurt, fillings, gum, spreads, baked products, snack foods
  • Safe in pregnancy*
  • ADI = 4 mg/kg body weight per day. For example, a 50 kg (110 lb) person could have 200 mg of Stevia per day. A 30 g portion of breakfast cereal may contain 11 mg of steviol glycosides.

*For nutritional reasons, pregnant women should not consume excessive products containing artificial sweeteners, since such foods could replace more nutritious foods.

**This document reflects the 2013 Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guidelines.