Sugar substitutes for diabetes can help you bake delicious treats with less sugar.
If you're living with diabetes, healthy sugar substitutes can help you enjoy your favorite home-baked desserts by reducing their calorie and carbohydrate content. Before you pull out the mixer, rolling pin, and baking sheets, it's helpful to keep in mind that sugar and sugar substitutes don't always behave equally in the kitchen. How so? In addition to helping baked goods taste great, sugar plays a structural role, locking in air and moisture and helping cookies, cakes, and pies brown.
Take heart, though: there are tricks that can help. Try these tips for using healthy sugar substitutes to create light, fluffy, and delicious versions of all your favorite baked goods.
Saccharin is considerably sweeter than sugar, so you'll only need two teaspoons for every quarter cup of sugar that you would normally use. To keep cakes and brownies moist, try reducing the amount of dry ingredients by 25 percent and increasing the volume of liquids, like milk or water, by a quarter cup. Baking a cake? Adding a little extra baking powder and baking soda or an extra egg or two egg whites, can help it stay light and airy.
In terms of sweetness, you can substitute granulated sucralose for sugar cup for cup. However, you may find your baked goods to be somewhat dense. Sucralose blends, such as Splenda Sugar Blend, are a better bet. Made of a combination of sucralose and sugar, these hybrids can help you cut carbohydrates and sugar in half while still performing much like sugar. Because they're sweeter than sugar, substitute half a cup of your sucralose blend for each cup of sugar.
Baking chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies? You'll be happy to learn that there are brown sugar sucralose blends, too, such as Splenda Brown Sugar Blend. When using these, you can help cookies spread out more by gently flattening them with a fork or the palm of your hand just before baking. If you're making a cake, keep it light and airy by cutting pieces of butter or shortening into the dry ingredients before adding any liquids.
As with sucralose, stevia baking blends, such as Truvia Baking Blend, provide better texture than stevia sweetener alone. Quantity-wise, simply substitute a half cup for each cup of sugar in your recipe. Similar to sucralose and saccharin, stevia blends may not give your cakes or brownies the full volume that sugar would deliver. Using an eight-inch pan in place of a nine-inch pan can help correct this (you can try this with saccharin and sucralose, too). Swapping in canola oil for shortening or butter may also improve volume—plus it's healthier for your heart.
One of the newest sweeteners on store shelves, calorie-free monk fruit is 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar. However, just like with sucralose and stevia, baking with monk fruit alone may give you a thick, dense result. Instead, try substituting half the recipe's sugar with monk fruit. While you won't eliminate added sugar entirely, your baked desserts will taste much better than if you used pure monk fruit. To trim calories even more, try cutting serving sizes in half or baking slightly smaller cookies.
What About Aspartame?
When it comes to sugar substitutes for diabetes, aspartame (commonly sold as NutraSweet and Equal) is an easy way to add sweetness to your coffee, tea, or cereal. However, because it isn't heat stable, it loses its sweet flavor when heated for a long period of time, so it's not recommended for cooking and baking. That's not to say it doesn't work in chilled desserts. Whisk it into cream pies, mousses, and custards.
In addition to using these substitutes, you can also reduce sugar in your favorite desserts by swapping in a little vanilla extract or cinnamon for some of the sugar in your recipe. You'll gain natural sweetness that's nearly sugar-free.
By Karen Ansel, MS, RDN
American Diabetes Association, Using Sugar Substitutes in the Kitchen
Sweetnlow.com, Sweet'N Low FAQ
Splenda.com, Splenda Products FAQs
Splendaprofessional.com, Splenda Brand Sweetener Compared to Sugar
Splenda.com, Cooking and Baking with Splenda Sugar Blend
Truvia.com, Truvia FAQ: The Scoop on Truvia Baking Blend
International Food Information Council, Monk Fruit Sweeteners
Intheraw.com, Monk Fruit in the Raw
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.