Diabetes and Diet Drinks
Diabetes and diet drinks should be carefully considered by people with diabetes. Diet drinks do not contain sugar, which has been proven to be harmful to the body. As such, diet drinks are widely believed to be a healthy alternative to the sugar-loaded versions. However, diet drinks often contain Equal, (aspartame), Sweet’N Low (sodium saccharin), Splenda (sucralose) or other questionable sweeteners in order to give them a sweet taste.
Should you use sweeteners?
The American Dietetic Association has approved the use of all
artificial sweeteners for people with diabetes.
Although artificial sweeteners are considered generally safe,
remain wary. These experts believe that there is not enough
on the sweetener aspartame to be sure that it’s completely safe
and that animal studies linking saccharin to cancer are a reason
In moderation, diet drinks containing artificial sweeteners can
craving for sweets while limiting the number of calories
still want to keep an eye on total calories, because sugar-free
not mean calorie-free. If you’re uncomfortable about using
sweeteners, despite current scientific evidence, you can get by
Aspartame is common artificial sweetener. Approximately 70% of diet drinks are sweetened with aspartame. Extensive
investigation hasn’t shown any serious side effects from aspartame.
However, aspartame is metabolized to several products, including the amino
acid phenylalanine (fen”il-AL’ah-nín). That’s why it carries a risk for
people with phenylketonuria (fen”il-ke”to-NÚ’re-ah) (an inborn metabolic
Findings from animal studies indicated that sodium saccharin
(the chemical in Sweet ‘N Low) caused bladder cancer. However,
studies on people haven’t shown any link between bladder cancer risk
and saccharin intake.
The FDA has approved two other artificial sweeteners. Acesulfame
potassium is often combined with other sweeteners. It has an excellent
shelf life and doesn’t break down when cooked or baked.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following
low-calorie sweeteners for use in a variety of foods. The FDA has
established an “acceptable daily intake” (ADI) for each sweetener. This
is the maximum amount considered safe to eat each day during your
lifetime. ADIs are intended to be about 100 times less than the smallest
amount that might cause health concerns.
|Artificial sweetener||Accepted Daily Intake||Estimated ADI equivalent**||OK for
|Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
160 – 220 times sweeter than sugar
|22.7 milligrams (mg) per pound (lb)||18 to 19 cans of diet cola||No|
|Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, SugarTwin) 200 -700 times sweeter||2.3 mg per pound (lb)||9 to 12 packets of sweetener||Yes|
|Acesulfame K (Sunett, Sweet One)
200 times sweeter
|6.9 mg per pound (lb)||30 to 32 cans of diet lemon-lime soda***||Yes|
600 times sweeter
|2.3 mg per pound (lb)||6 cans of diet cola***||Yes|
|Sugar Alcohols||Varies with SA|
*FDA-established acceptable daily intake (ADI) limit per kilogram (2.2
pounds) of body weight.
**Product-consumption equivalent for a person weighing 150 pounds (68
***These products usually contain more than one type of sweetener.
Instead of drinking diet drinks, it is always a good idea to drink:
- Water and unsweetened beverages.
- Flavored seltzer water instead of diet soda. Some diabetics may also be able to drink
- Juices (generally 1 serving = ½ cup = 4 4 oz. Cup, 4 oz. Cup = the smallest drinking glass; except for shot glasses) and milk. Drink juices along with other foods to reduce their effect on blood glucose.