What Are the Health Benefits of Wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass is a grass that is closely related to wheat. It is a thick, dry grass that looks like hay or straw. It has played a role in natural and holistic medicine for generations.

Wheatgrass is harvested early in its development before it reaches full size — usually 7-10 days after sprouting. Grown primarily to make hay, or for animals to graze, wheatgrass may also offer several health benefits.

Wheatgrass is sometimes called “green blood” because it contains high levels of chlorophyll that gives wheatgrass products an unusual green hue.

Fast facts on wheatgrass:

  • Wheatgrass first became popular in the United States in the 1930s.
  • Wheatgrass must be processed before being consumed.
  • Some studies suggest that wheatgrass can improve health.
  • There is no evidence that wheatgrass poses health risks unless a person is allergic to it.

What is wheatgrass?

wheatgrass and wheatgrass drink

Wheatgrass has a number of health benefits and first became popular in the United States in the 1930s.

In the 1930s, agricultural chemist Charles F. Schnabel used young grasses to try to save dying chickens. The chickens survived and produced more eggs than other hens.

Quaker Oats and other companies began funding research into the benefits, and soon wheatgrass supplements, juices, and powders were widely available. Proponents of wheatgrass say that it is dense in plant nutrients that can improve health and offer supplemental nutrition.

When people consume the raw grass, they usually do so as part of a juice. Powdered wheatgrass is also available in capsules, liquid suspensions, or as a powder to add to smoothies.

Benefits of wheatgrass

Some of the benefits of wheatgrass include:

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Wheatgrass can be used to help relieve stomach pain and improve symptoms of other gastrointestinal problems.

Some studies have shown that wheatgrass acts as an antioxidant because of it contains vitamins A, C, and E.

Antioxidants reverse the effects of free radicals. These volatile compounds in the body have links to aging and other health issues, including cancer. Antioxidants help fight chronic inflammation, which occurs when the immune system reacts to particular health issues, such as arthritis, stomach problems, skin issues. Antioxidants might even help with mental health concerns, such as depression.

Many health benefits of wheatgrass may be due to its role as an antioxidant. So it may offer benefits similar to many other plant-based foods.

Cancer prevention and treatment

Like other antioxidants, wheatgrass may help prevent cancer. It could also supplement traditional cancer treatments. A 2017 study found that wheatgrass could slow the growth of oral cancer.

Other studies have reached similar conclusions. A 2015 study, for example, found that wheatgrass slowed the growth of colon cancer and caused some cancer cells to die.

Wheatgrass may also improve the effects of chemotherapy. One study has found wheatgrass can reduce side effects associated with chemotherapy.

Fighting infections

Some research has found that wheatgrass can kill or slow the growth of certain infections. This can be especially helpful in the treatment of infections that are resistant to antibiotics, or in people who are allergic to specific antibiotics.

2015 study carried out in a test tube found that wheatgrass has antimicrobial properties that can fight certain types of strep infections, as well as some forms of a bacteria called LactobacillusLactobacillus bacteria play a role in many infections, including dental infections.

Treating gastrointestinal distress

Practitioners of traditional medicine have long used wheatgrass to reduce stomach pain and manage minor gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea.

The purported gastrointestinal benefits of wheatgrass may be partially due to its fiber content. Wheatgrass is gluten-free, making it a good option for people with gluten intolerance.

Some research suggests that wheatgrass may be particularly useful in treating ulcerative colitis. Compared to a placebo, wheatgrass appears to reduce pain and other symptoms in some people.

For people who do not see improvements using traditional medications, wheatgrass might be an alternative remedy.

Preventing and treating diabetes

Research has found that wheatgrass may benefit those with diabetes. A 2014 study on rats, for example, found that wheatgrass could raise insulin levels, helping to lower blood glucose. By fighting inflammation, wheatgrass may also help reduce the side effects of diabetes.

Preliminary research points to the power of wheatgrass to fight obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes and can intensify the adverse health effects of diabetes.

Nutritional breakdown

In addition to the health benefits, wheatgrass offers a number of nutrients that are essential as part of a balanced diet.

Though low in calories, wheatgrass is a good source of protein. It is not, however, a complete protein. Like most plant-based foods, wheatgrass is an excellent source of fiber, which can help reduce blood glucose. Wheatgrass can also support healthy digestion and help people feel full for longer than they usually would.

Wheatgrass is a good source of vitamins A, C, E, and K, and of vitamin B6, zinc, iron, selenium, and manganese.

Risks

People who are allergic to other grasses may also be allergic to wheatgrass. Likewise, due to cross-contamination and cross-pollination, it is possible for wheatgrass to contain the pollen of other plants.

People with plant allergies should consult a doctor before trying wheatgrass.

Side effects

Some people experience nausea or constipation after consuming wheatgrass, perhaps due to its high fiber content. People with a history of constipation should talk to a doctor before trying wheatgrass.

Sometimes, the raw form of wheatgrass is contaminated by mold or bacteria. If preparing wheatgrass at home, wash it thoroughly to remove contaminants before using.

When consuming wheatgrass supplements, buy only from a trusted source. Consider contacting the manufacturer to ask what steps it takes to reduce the risk of contamination.

Wheatgrass taste and ideas for consumption

Wheatgrass tastes like grass, and it can overpower other flavors.

How to make it taste better

Mixing raw wheatgrass in a smoothie can still produce a drink that tastes like something out of a lawnmower. But combining wheatgrass with other ingredients that have a strong taste, such as pineapple or citrus fruit, can help balance the flavor.

Ways to consume wheatgrass

vegetable and fruit juices

Including citrus fruit or pineapple in a wheatgrass drink can help to improve the taste.

Some people prefer to take powdered wheatgrass in capsule form. This almost eliminates the taste and can make it easier to get a daily dose of the grass.

A few wheatgrass supplement manufacturers offer flavored wheatgrass capsules or tablets that include citrus fruits or other dominant flavors.

For people who prefer not to experiment with smoothie or juice recipes, these may offer a tasty solution.

Also,

Many studies on the benefits of wheatgrass have produced promising results but have not been well designed. This means it is not possible to know for sure whether wheatgrass can treat or prevent any specific medical condition.

Because most people tolerate wheatgrass well, it is safe to use alongside other treatments. Nobody should take wheatgrass as a substitute for medical treatment. To test the benefits of wheatgrass, try a daily wheatgrass smoothie or supplement.

As research evolves, it may become clear that wheatgrass is an effective medical treatment for other medical conditions. For now, however, the research is inconclusive.

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Inulin 101

A prebiotic fiber with powerful health benefits:

If you’ve been reading up on gut health, then you may have heard of inulin.

Inulin is a fiber that has been linked to several health benefits and is added to many foods.

However, some people have concerns about its side effects and how well it works.

This article takes a detailed look at inulin and its health effects.

What is inulin?

Inulin is a type of soluble fiber found in many plants.

It is a “fructan” – meaning that it is made up of chains of fructose molecules that are linked together in a way that cannot be digested by your small intestine.

Instead, it travels to the lower gut, where it functions as a prebiotic, or food source for the beneficial bacteria that live there.

Your gut bacteria convert inulin and other prebiotics into short-chain fatty acids, which nourish colon cells and provide various other health benefits.

Inulin is relatively low in calories, providing 1.5 calories per gram.

Plants containing inulin have been around for a very long time, and some early humans consumed much more inulin than we do today.

Inulin.
While inulin is found in many plants, it also comes in supplement form, generally as a powder. This is what it looks like.

Bottom line: Inulin is a soluble fiber found in many plants. Your gut bacteria convert it into short-chain fatty acids, which provide several health benefits.

Where does inulin come from?

Inulin is naturally found in many plants, but can also be modified for commercial use.

Natural Sources of Inulin

Although many plants contain only small amounts of inulin, others are excellent sources. Here’s how much inulin is in 3.5 oz, or 100 grams, of the following foods:

  • Asparagus: 2-3 grams.
  • Chicory root: 36-48 grams.
  • Garlic: 9-16 grams.
  • Jerusalem artichoke: 16-20 grams.
  • Jicama: 10-13 grams.
  • Onions: 1-8 grams.
  • Yacon root: 7-8 grams

Manufactured sources of inulin

Inulin is also available in supplement form or as an ingredient in protein bars, cereal bars, yogurt and other products. Manufactured inulin comes in several forms:

  • Native chicory: Extracted from chicory root.
  • Oligofructose: Made by removing the longer molecules from inulin.
  • HP: High-performance (HP) inulin is created by removing the shorter molecules from it.
  • FOS: Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) consist of short inulin molecules synthesized from table sugar.

 Inulin is found naturally in several foods. It’s also modified for commercial use, and there are several varieties.

Health benefits of inulin

People take inulin for a variety of reasons. It may improve digestive health, relieve constipation, promote weight loss and help control diabetes.

Improves digestive health

The gut microbiota is the population of bacteria and other microbes that live in your gut. This community is highly complex and contains both good and bad bacteria.

Having the right balance of bacteria is essential for keeping your gut healthy and protecting you from disease.

Inulin can help promote this balance. In fact, studies have shown that inulin can help stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. Increasing the amounts of these bacteria can help improve digestion, immunity and overall health.

Bottom line: Inulin supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This keeps the gut bacteria balanced and may have various health benefits.

Relieves constipation

For many people, inulin may also help relieve symptoms of constipation.

One analysis found that people taking inulin experienced more frequent bowel movements and improved stool consistency.

In another 4-week study, older adults who were given 15 grams of inulin per day reported less constipation and better digestion.

That being said, several studies have found no effects on bowel frequency.

For many people, inulin can help relieve constipation by causing more frequent bowel movements and better stool consistency.

Promotes weight loss

Several studies indicate that inulin can also help with weight loss.

When overweight and obese adults took 21 grams of inulin per day, their hunger hormone levels decreased and their fullness hormone levels increased.

On average, the people taking inulin lost over 2 lbs (0.9 kg), while the control group gained about 1 lb (0.45 kg) during the 12-week study.

In another weight loss study, people with prediabetes took inulin or another fiber called cellulose for 18 weeks. Those taking inulin lost 7.6% of their body weight, while the cellulose group lost only 4.9%.

However, in studies of overweight and obese children, oligofructose and inulin have not been effective in reducing calorie intake.

Bottom line: Inulin and oligofructose supplements may help regulate appetite in adults, leading to weight loss.

Helps control diabetes

Several studies suggest that inulin may improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes and prediabetes.

However, this may depend on the type of inulin, and the high-performance (HP) type may be especially beneficial. For example, one study found that HP inulin decreased fat in the livers of people with prediabetes.

This is significant, as reducing fat in the liver can help reduce insulin resistance and potentially reverse type 2 diabetes.

In another study, women with type 2 diabetes were given 10 grams of HP inulin per day. Their fasting blood sugar decreased by an average of 8.5%, while hemoglobin A1c (a marker for long-term blood sugar control) fell by an average of 10.5%.

However, although HP inulin has been shown to benefit diabetes and prediabetes, results from studies using some other types are less consistent.

HP inulin has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, but other forms may not be as beneficial.

Other potential benefits

There is some evidence that inulin supplements may help other conditions, although the evidence is not as strong.

This includes benefits for heart health, mineral absorption, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

May support heart health

Inulin may improve several markers for heart health. Mouse studies have found that it reduces blood triglycerides and cholesterol.

A human study found that women given 10 grams of HP inulin for 8 weeks experienced significant decreases in both triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.

However, other human studies reported fewer reductions in triglycerides, and no improvements in other markers.

Bottom line: Several studies indicate that inulin may improve certain risk factors for heart disease, but the evidence is mixed.

May improve mineral absorption and bone health

Animal studies have found that inulin improves calcium and magnesium absorption, resulting in improved bone density.

Human studies have found that boys and girls, aged 9-13, had significantly better calcium absorption and bone mineralization when taking inulin.

A few studies show that inulin may increase absorption of calcium and magnesium, and improve bone mineralization in children.

May help prevent colon cancer

It’s thought that the fermentation of inulin into butyrate protects colon cells. For this reason, several studies have looked into the effects on colon health.

One review looked at 12 animal studies and found that 88% of the groups given inulin saw a reduction in precancerous colon growths.

In another study, inulin-fed rats showed fewer precancerous cell changes and less inflammation than the control group.

A human study found that it caused the colon environment to be less favorable for cancer development, which is promising.

Animal studies have found that inulin can reduce gut inflammation and reduce the growth of precancerous cells. This may lead to a reduced risk of colon cancer, but more research is needed.

May help treat inflammatory bowel disease

Several animal studies suggest that inulin supplements may have benefits against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

A few small, human studies have also found reduced symptoms of ulcerative colitis, and a reduction in inflammatory markers in Crohn’s disease.

Nevertheless, researchers are not yet ready to recommend the use of inulin in treating IBD.

Inulin may also have benefits against inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Safety and side effects

The different forms of inulin have been studied extensively, and appear to be safe for most people when consumed in small doses.

However, people who are intolerant to FODMAPs are likely to experience significant side effects.

Those who are allergic to ragweed may also have worsened symptoms after taking it. Additionally – and very rarely – people with a food allergy to inulin may experience an anaphylactic reaction, which can be dangerous.

If you take more than a small amount, then you’re likely to experience some side effects in the beginning.

The most common side effects are:

  • Flatulence (gas)
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Loose stools and diarrhea

For example, oligofructose (a type of inulin) has been shown to cause significant flatulence and bloating for people taking 10 grams per day.

Inulin from chicory root can generally be taken at higher dosages, but some people reported slight stomach discomfort at 7.5 grams a day.

You can minimize your risk of discomfort by slowly increasing your intake over time, which helps your body adjust.

 Although inulin is safe for most people when taken at recommended dosages, people with certain allergies or a FODMAP intolerance should avoid it.

Dosage and how to take

Although all types of inulin are safe for most people, some are more likely to cause side effects.

Therefore, it’s best to start slow. Begin by adding some inulin-rich foods to your diet on a regular basis.

If you decide to supplement, begin with no more than 2-3 grams a day for at least 1-2 weeks.

Then, slowly increase your intake by 1-2 grams at a time, until you’re taking 5-10 grams a day. Most of the studies used 10-30 grams per day, gradually increasing over time.

The side effects should also improve with continued use. However, not everyone may be able to tolerate the amounts listed here.

Start by taking 2-3 grams a day for at least 1-2 weeks. Then gradually increase your dosage.

Should you take inulin?

Inulin has several important health benefits. It may promote gut health, help you lose weight and help manage diabetes.

However, while it is safe for most people, you should be careful if you have a FODMAP intolerance or certain allergies.

Additionally, start with a low dose of inulin and gradually increase your intake over the course of a few weeks.

Remember that if a little of something is good, more is not always better.

Health Benefits of Oolong Tea

There is a record of tea being used as a beverage in China since 2,000 B.C.E. Besides water, it is consumed more than any other drink around the world. The four main types of tea are black, green, white, and oolong.

All four varieties come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal teas are not considered true tea because they do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant.

Oolong tea accounts for only 2 percent of tea consumption around the world. Although less popular, oolong tea still has a variety of benefits. Read on to find out more information about oolong tea and its associated health benefits.

What is oolong tea?

Oolong tea is commonly consumed in China and Taiwan. In Asian countries, drinking tea is a large part of the culture and social gatherings. Friends and business associates often meet over tea.

Oolong
Oolong tea has a range of health benefits.

Although all true tea comes from the same plant, the differences occur in the harvesting and processing. Oolong tea is partially fermented, while black tea is fully fermented.

Tea can also differ in amounts and types of antioxidants. Green tea is high in a class of antioxidants known as catechins. Antioxidants in black tea are theaflavins and thearubigins. Oolong tea falls in the middle, regarding the antioxidant amounts.

Oolong tea and green tea contain similar amounts of caffeine, approximately 10 to 60 milligrams (mg) per 8-ounce cup. For comparison, coffee contains approximately 70 to 130 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup.

Unsweetened brewed tea is considered a zero-calorie beverage. It contains no fat, carbohydrates, or protein.

Potential health benefits of oolong tea

There are a number of health benefits that are thought to derive from drinking oolong tea, as with other types of tea.

Heart disease

Researchers in China studied the relationship between drinking oolong tea and cholesterol levels, as high cholesterol levels can be associated with an increased risk for heart disease.

They found that people who drank at least 10 ounces of oolong tea per week had lower risks of having high total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. The same was also true of people who drank similar amounts of green and black teas.

People who had been consuming oolong tea for the longest time had lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL cholesterol levels.

In another study, Japanese men and women were studied for the impact of consuming coffee, green tea, black tea, and oolong tea on their risk of heart disease. Researchers found that men who drank 1 or more cups of oolong tea per day had a lower risk of heart disease.

Weight loss

study in mice showed that the animals receiving oolong tea extract while being fed a high fat, high sugar diet, gained less abdominal fat than mice on the same diet that did not receive the tea extract.

Green tea and black tea extracts also resulted in the less abdominal fat gain. The mice that received the green tea extract also consumed fewer calories.

study in overweight and obese Chinese adults looked at the effect of oolong tea consumption on body weight. Study participants drank 300 milliliters (mL) of oolong tea four times per day. After 6 weeks, more than half of the participants had lost more than 1 kilogram.

Cancer

Researchers in Taiwan examined the association between drinking tea and the risk of head and neck or throat cancer.

Each cup of oolong tea consumed per day equated to a 4 percent lower risk, but the result was not significant. Each cup of green tea consumed per day equated to a 6 percent lower risk for head and neck cancer, which was more significant.

Another study in Chinese women found that drinking green, black, or oolong tea was linked to a decreased risk of ovarian cancer.

However, according to the National Cancer Institute, there is not currently enough research to say for certain that drinking tea decreases cancer risk.

Diabetes

Some studies have shown that drinking 3 or more cups of tea per day is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

However, studies specifically looking at oolong tea have had varied results.

In one study, healthy men drank almost 6 cups per day of oolong tea. At different times, they drank oolong tea that contained supplemental antioxidants, which were in the form of catechins or polyphenols. Each of the teas was consumed for 5 days. Researchers found that drinking oolong tea did not improve blood sugar or insulin levels.

Interestingly, one study found that working men who drank 2 or more cups of oolong tea per day had a higher risk of developing diabetes than men who consumed 1 cup of oolong tea per day or no oolong tea.

Dental health

Fluoride is an element that is often added to drinking water, toothpaste, and mouthwash to help prevent dental cavities.

Tea leaves naturally contain fluoride, so drinking oolong tea could help prevent cavities. Excess fluoride can be harmful, but drinking less than 1 liter of oolong tea per day is safe for most adults.

Other possible benefits:

While there is not enough current research to support the following benefits, drinking tea has also been associated with:

  • healthier gut bacteria
  • lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • lower risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • natural defense from the sun’s ultraviolet rays
  • stronger bones

Studies that examined long-term consumption of oolong tea showed the greatest results. Although it is not a cure for any condition, drinking tea regularly appears to have numerous health benefits.

Risks and Considerations

Oolong Too much
Too much oolong can affect the absorption of iron into the blood.

Although oolong tea contains less caffeine than coffee, people who are sensitive to caffeine should still limit their intake.

Tea can decrease the amount of iron absorbed from plant foods. Also, some researchers found that young children who drank tea were more likely to have lower iron levels.

It may, therefore, be better to drink tea outside of meals to limit its impact on iron absorption. When consumed together at meals, eating foods rich in vitamin C can increase the amount of iron absorbed from plant foods.

Tea is a healthy beverage that has been consumed by people around the world for centuries. Oolong tea is a lesser known variety that may also provide health benefits. However, from some of the research reviewed above, drinking green tea may offer the most health advantages.

Bottled tea contains smaller amounts of beneficial polyphenols and may have excessive amounts of added sugar. If buying bottled teas, it may be better to look for ones that are unsweetened or to brew tea at home and sweeten it with a small amount of honey.

Oolong tea should be steeped for as long as possible to increase flavonoids, and people can consume 2-3 cups per day.

Coconut Palm Sugar

In order to manage their condition, people with diabetes need to monitor their sugar intake. A good way of doing this might be by choosing a natural sweetener option. One of the more popular choices is coconut palm sugar.

People with diabetes have bodies that do not produce enough insulin or use insulin correctly.

Insulin is the hormone needed to help the body to normalize blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels are a measurement of the amount of sugar in the bloodstream.

All foods contain sugar. The body stores the sugar and transports it through the bloodstream to the cells, which use it as energy.

When insulin is not working properly, sugar cannot enter cells, and they are unable to produce as much energy. When the cells of the body cannot process sugar, diabetes occurs.

What is coconut palm sugar?

Coconut palm sugar is made from the sap of the coconut palm. The sugar is extracted from the palm by heating it until the moisture evaporates. After processing, the sugar has a caramel color and tastes like brown sugar, making it an easy substitution in any recipe.

Coconut palm sugar is considered a healthier option for people with diabetes because it contains less pure fructose than other sweeteners.

The digestive tract does not absorb fructose as it does other sugars, which means that the excess fructose finds its way to the liver. Too much fructose in the liver can lead to a host of metabolic problems, including type 2 diabetes.

Can people with diabetes eat coconut palm sugar?

While the American Diabetes Association (ADA) do find coconut palm sugar to be an acceptable sugar substitute, they do not appear to endorse its use.

Coconut palm sugar and glycemic index

Some people believe coconut palm sugar is more healthful because it is lower on the glycemic index (GI).

People with diabetes are encouraged to consume foods with a low GI because they will not raise blood sugar levels as much as foods with a high GI level. Any GI value of 55 or less is considered low, and anything above 70 is high on the GI.

Both honey and cane sugar have GIs of around 50, while the GI of coconut palm sugar, as reported by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Philippines, is 35.

However, the University of Sydney has measured the GI of coconut palm sugar at 54. Based on its chemical makeup, this is thought to be the most likely value. Despite the difference in opinion, coconut palm sugar is still considered to be a low GI food.

Issues with looking at GI

There are several factors that contribute to blood sugar levels after eating, including how the food is prepared.

In the United States, there is no official GI rating system. The ADA note, however, that GI numbers for specific foods differ based on their source, and this would likely apply to coconut palm sugar.

According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, the GI is not the best guideline for what happens to blood sugar levels after eating.

There are many factors that influence the process, including:

  • the individual
  • the content of the food
  • how food is prepared
  • what other foods are consumed
  • the rate of digestion

Therefore, the ADA advise people to treat coconut palm sugar as they would any other sweetener, including pure cane sugar. It is also important to include the number of calories and carbohydrates it contains when planning meals.

People should always check the nutritional labels on coconut palm sugar. This is because coconut palm sugar may contain other ingredients, including cane sugar, which means its GI will be much higher than noted in a rating system.

Coconut palm sugar contains inulin

Inulin is a fermentable prebiotic fiber, beneficial to gut bacteria that may help with controlling sugar levels in type 2 diabetics.

At least one research study finds coconut palm sugar contains significant amounts of inulin.

A study from 2016 found that fermentable carbohydrates might help to improve insulin sensitivity. They may also have unique metabolic effects for those who are at high risk for diabetes.

Benefits for women with type 2 diabetes

Another study finds that inulin provides some benefits for women with type 2 diabetes, including blood glycemic control and antioxidant status. Antioxidants protect the body from disease and damage.

More research is needed to further identify and understand these findings to extend to other populations with type 2 diabetes.

Nutritional value of coconut palm sugar

Coconut palm sugar contains the same number of calories and carbohydrates as regular cane sugar.

In addition, coconut palm sugar and cane sugar both contain:

  • fructose, which is a monosaccharide, or single sugar
  • glucose, which is a monosaccharide
  • sucrose, which is a disaccharide that is made up of two sugars: half fructose, half glucose

However, the proportion of these sugars is different in cane sugar and palm sugar.

Fructose content

Coconut palm sugar and cane sugar contain nearly the same amount of fructose, but there is more pure fructose in cane sugar, which may cause problems for people with diabetes.

Often referred to as “simple sugars,” sucrose, fructose, and glucose are also essential carbohydrates.

Sucrose is sugar that is present in almost every food. It is a natural compound and gives the body vital energy but can be harmful in large quantities. Added sweeteners found in processed foods, desserts, and beverages contain the most sucrose.

When sucrose is heated, it breaks down to form fructose and glucose.

[selection of fruit on a wooden table]
Fruits have a high level of fructose.

High levels of fructose are found in:

  • fruits
  • agave nectar or syrup
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • foods with added sugars

High levels of glucose are found in:

  • dextrose, also known as grape sugar or corn sugar
  • some fruits
  • starches, such as bread, grains, and pasta
  • foods with added sugars

Other nutrients found in coconut palm sugar

Coconut palm sugar may be considered a better option, as it has more nutritional value than some other sugars.

Unlike cane sugar, it contains:

  • iron
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • other important minerals

However, people should bear in mind that cane sugar contains tiny amounts of these nutrients. Most people only consume a few teaspoons of coconut palm sugar at a time, which actually contains less than 2 percent of all nutrients.

Healthful whole foods will provide dramatically more of these same nutrients for fewer calories.

Conclusion

There is not enough sufficient research to back up claims coconut palm sugar is more healthful, better, or different than any other sugar for blood sugar.

While coconut sugar contains inulin, it may not contain enough to significantly affect blood sugar levels. In addition, coconut palm sugar is also just as high in calories as regular cane sugar.

Coconut palm sugar seems to be slightly more beneficial than regular sugar but is still best consumed in moderation. Therefore, individuals with type 2 diabetes should treat it the same as other sugars and use it sparingly, as it still might raise blood glucose levels, despite its possibly lower GI.

Best Ice Cream for Type 2 Diabetes

Ice cream does not have to be strictly off limits for people with type 2 diabetes. While it is still best to enjoy ice cream in moderation, there are ice cream and frozen yogurt choices out there that will not derail a healthful diet.

People with type 2 diabetes have more to think about than simply ruining their diet with ice cream. Their main concerns are about how ice cream will affect their blood sugar levels, since controlling this is critical to managing diabetes.

While people with diabetes can include ice cream as part of their healthful diet, it is important for them to make informed decisions about what ice creams they should eat.

Understanding ice cream sugar servings

[ice cream cheers]
Ice cream can be a delicious treat, but people with diabetes need to be particularly careful about which ice cream they eat.

Most ice cream has a lot of added sugar, making it something a person with diabetes should avoid. Because of this, one of the first things they should consider when choosing an ice cream is the sugar content.

People with diabetes need to understand how their ice cream indulgence fits into their overall diet plan. Here are a few facts for people with diabetes to consider:

  • Every 4 grams (g) of sugar is equivalent to 1 teaspoon. The more sugar that is in the ice cream, the more carbohydrates it has.
  • An ice cream serving with 15 g of carbohydrates is equal to 1 serving of carbohydrates. Any carbohydrates in ice cream will count towards the total carbohydrate goal for the day, which will be different for each person.
  • Protein and fat found in ice cream can help slow absorption of sugar. Choosing an ice cream higher in protein and fat may be preferable to choose a lower fat option.
  • A suitable portion of ice cream for somebody with diabetes is very small, usually half a cup. But most people serve much more than this. It is crucial that a person with diabetes sticks to the proper portion size, so they know exactly how many carbohydrates they are eating.

Things to look out for when choosing an ice cream

When it comes to picking out ice cream, the number of choices offered at a grocery store can be overwhelming. There are a number of brands and dozens of flavors to choose from. Here are some considerations for picking out ice cream at the local store:

Low sugar

The best ice cream for a person with diabetes has the lowest sugar content per serving without relying on artificial sweeteners. To check the amount of sugar in ice cream, look at the total number of carbohydrates on the nutrition label and the ingredient list.

For someone with diabetes, the best choice is an ice cream with less than 20 g total carbohydrates in a half- cup serving.

[reading a label at the grocery store]
Labels can be confusing or even deliberately misleading, so it is important to read them carefully.

Confusing labels

Almost every brand of ice cream has lots of marketing information on the container, which is designed to catch the eye.

People with diabetes may find a product that says reduced sugar or half the calories of regular ice cream. Although the claims may be true that the particular product has less sugar than another variety, the actual sugar content may still be much higher than recommended per serving amount.

Fat and protein level

The amount of protein and fat in the ice cream can have a direct impact on how fast sugar is absorbed in the body. In general, if the fat and protein contents are higher than average, the sugar from each serving will be absorbed more slowly.

Best ice creams for people with diabetes to eat

With so many brands to choose from, it can be hard to determine which are best for people with diabetes. The following are a few brands and flavors to choose from that are better overall choices:

  • Blue Bunny Ice Cream offer two options – vanilla and chocolate. Both contain less than 20 g of carbohydrates per serving.
  • Breyers offer a vanilla ice cream called Smooth and Dreamy ½ Fat Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream. It contains minimal fat and 17 g of total carbohydrates. Breyers offer a similar product in chocolate as well, also with 17 g of total carbohydrates. Breyers also offer some no-sugar-added flavors. However, these varieties contain multiple artificial sweeteners and are not recommended.
  • Schwan’s offer a chocolate ice cream flavor, which contains 18 g of total carbohydrates.
  • Edy’s offer several varieties of their slow-churned ice creams, which contain around 20 g or less of carbohydrates per serving.
  • Halo Top offer ice cream flavors with additional protein. The addition of protein helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood, making it a good choice for people with diabetes.

How to make room for ice cream in a diet

A recommended serving of carbohydrates in ice cream is 20 g or less. This equates to roughly one serving of carbohydrates in a day.

People with diabetes who are following a strict diet where carbohydrate servings count, must count every carbohydrate they eat. Those planning on eating a serving of ice cream for dessert should make sure they eat one less carbohydrate serving during the day. Substituting a sandwich with a lettuce wrap or salad could do this.

Saturated fat content is also high in some ice cream brands and flavors. Since people with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease, it is a good idea to limit other saturated fat-containing foods on the day they plan to eat ice cream.

If eating ice cream is going to be a daily treat, it is important to talk to a dietitian about how to fit it into a dietary plan.

Other sweets and dessert options

Diabetes-friendly desserts are available in most stores and can be made at home as easily as any other desserts. Some things to consider when looking for other sweet options include:

  • Total carbohydrate contents per serving: Just 15-20 g is considered one daily serving of carbohydrates.
  • Total protein: The amount of protein in a dessert can help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
  • Use of natural sweeteners: Although artificial sweeteners are readily available in most stores and in many light and no-sugar-added ice cream options, they are not highly recommended in the medical community.

Some ready-to-eat options for dessert include:

Frozen yogurt

[frozen yogurt with berries]
While frozen yogurt may seem like a more healthful option, it often contains just as much sugar as regular ice cream.

Some people consider frozen yogurt and ice cream to be the same, while others recognize their differences. Frozen yogurt is often sold in fat-free varieties, which is a good option when compared to some ice creams where a single serving can be around a third of total fat needs.

However, the nutritional information in frozen yogurt needs to be looked at carefully. Frozen yogurt may also contain just as much, if not more sugar and therefore carbohydrates, as ice cream. This may be to make up for the lack of flavor and texture that the fat would give it.

Pudding and gelatin

There are many brands that offer sugar-free or fat-free versions of these dessert options, although they may still contain artificial sweeteners. It is important to check the nutritional facts to see how they fit into the overall diet for the day.

Homemade baked goods made with stevia

Many baked goods, such as cookies, brownies, cakes, and so on, use stevia in place of sugar in their recipes.

This natural, zero-calorie sweetener offers a great substitute for sugar that can reduce the carbohydrate impact of a favorite baked treat.

Conclusion

When it comes to ice cream, the best advice for people with diabetes is to understand carbohydrate serving sizes, the amount in a serving of ice cream, and how much impact it is going to have on the day.

It is always a good idea to take a walk after eating a dessert to help lower post-meal blood sugar.

For people working with dietitians to develop a meal plan, it is important to talk about possible issues with adding ice cream to the diet, or ways to make it work. In any case, with the right research and sacrifices, ice cream can be a part of a regular diet.