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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What's the Best Sweetener For You!


Some people believe sugar to be a drug and that our bodies become addicted to it. Anyone who has tried to quit drinking soda can probably attest to that… with the killer withdrawal headaches, I know! The alternative to sugar are sweeteners. To help your decision in choosing which sweetener to use, we put together some facts about these products and their health risks. Some sweeteners may be great for adding calorie-free flavor to your food, but many come with health risks which you should be aware of.

There are seven common sweeteners used today: honey, sucrose (sugar), aspartame, saccharin, turbinado, stevia, and sucralose or better known as Splenda.

Honey:

No matter how unrefined and all-natural honey is, it is nothing more than pure sugar. Honey has small trace amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Swap for fruit and veggies, which are far richer in antioxidants and have much less sugar.

Sucrose:

Better known as sugar, sucrose is the most common food sweetener used in the world. It is extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets and is purified and crystallized. It is then stripped of ALL vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, and trace elements. It is even processed with things like phosphoric acid, sulphur dioxide, and bleaching agents! In other words it has NO nutritional value! When you eat sugar, you get a quick burst of energy and then your energy levels ultimately dip below your baseline. Your baseline is your energy level before you intake sugar. Then your body craves more sugar to get your energy back up! This is why you crave more and more sugar! It is a vicious cycle. Quiting sugar and eating only natural sugar will give you a lifetime of energy! Start today and try it for a week and see how you feel!

Aspartame:

You may know it by other names such as NutraSweet or Equal. It is a low-calorie sweetener that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. However, it does lose most of its sweeteners when used in high temperature such as coffee and hot teas. This is why most people find themselves using a couple packs. There are health risks because it is made from methyl alcohol, which on its own is potentially toxic. It is however, proven safe for human consumption. However, people with a rare hereditary metabolic condition called phenylketonuria (PKU) need to watch their intake, because it contains the enzyme phenylalanine, which they must avoid.

Saccharin:

Better known to us as Sweet’N Low and Sugar Twin, is popular because it can sweeten both hot and cold foods and drinks and is low in calories. New research shows saccharin is safe in the small amounts most people use, despite the scare that it causes cancer. A study completed in 1977 showed rats that had bladder cancer after being fed saccharin and the fact that Canada bands it from being sold are two good reason I don’t use the stuff.

Turbinado:

This is the light brown packets of coarse, “Raw Sugar” that’s supposed to be better for you because it’s all-natural and chemical free. Just because it is not chemically treated or unbleached, does not mean it is richer in vitamins and minerals. Your body will react to brown sugar like it does white sugar, with a fat-storing insulin spike!

Stevia:

A natural dietary supplement extracted from the stevia rebaudiana plant has been used for decades around the world. It is about 300 times sweeter than sugar and is calorie-free. The FDA however, has not approved it for use as a sweetener. A few studies have shown that stevia may cause cancer and reproductive health problems, which is why some countries won’t allow it to be used as a sweetener. The FDA has stated that when used sparingly, stevia is perfectly safe.

Sucralose:

Better known as Splenda, is 600 times sweeter than sugar and is the newest low-calorie sweetener on the market. It is basically regular table sugar that has been chlorinated, so that it doesn’t make your blood sugar raise! It also retains its sweetness in hot or cold food and drinks. According to a study in 2008 completed at Duke University states, Splenda “suppresses beneficial bacteria and directly affects the expression of the transporter P-gp and cytochrome P-450 isozymes that are known to interfere with the bioavailability of drugs and nutrients. Furthermore, these effects occur at Splenda doses that contain sucralose levels that are approved by the FDA for use in the food supply.” Here were trying to intake as many nutrients as possible and Splenda blocks those receptors!

Choose wisely when choosing a sweetener and which ever one you choose, use sparingly.