Hello and Happy New Year! I apologize for being horrible with contributing new things onto my page. So on top of my New Years resolution to moisturize my face daily and nightly (I am an aging female, you know) I will post more about healthy eating and all things yummy. So to help keep this all in line and tip top shape I now have the help of a lovely dietetic student from Drexel University, Alex Wolz. In fact, I am giving her the first entry for 2014 — Being Savvy about Sweeteners… (her own topic of choice)
Coffee, diet drinks, even lower calorie foods… there are many ways in which we find sweeteners in our daily diets. When it comes to sweetening any beverage, snack, or meal there are an overwhelming number of nutritive and nonnutritive sweetener options available. The most difficult question in deciding which one to choose begins with knowing where it comes from, and perhaps being aware of possible adverse effects to consuming too much. If you are looking to cut back on calories or suffer from high blood sugar, sugar substitutes can be helpful but should still be used in moderation. To try and simplify the world of sugar substitutes here is a list that may answer some questions out there! These are some of the most common options available:
Saccharin, also known as Sweet ‘n Low, is found in many soft drinks and on table tops in pink packets. There has been controversy over this product and whether it may cause cancer or not. It has been scientifically established that moderate consumption is safe for most people. My advice is that if you must use, use sparingly – Saccharin won’t harm you if you are judicious with your use.
Aspartame is a non-nutritive sweetener option found in the blue packet (Equal) as well as in many other beverages and foods. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than table sugar without the calories. This is another sweetening agent that has revolved around some controversy. Due to the presence of the amino acid phenylalanine in aspartame, people with PKU, a disorder where phenylalanine cannot be digested, must avoid consumption. Individuals with PKU have to avoid all products containing phenylalanine, even meat, legumes, nuts, dairy, and some bread products to prevent the adverse health effects caused by their condition. Aspartame is safe for otherwise normal and healthy individuals who can metabolize phenylalanine without worrying about their health.
Sucralose is a common artificial sweetener that you may recognize as Splenda. Much sweeter than table sugar, sucralose is not absorbed or recognized by your body and thus does not give any nutritive or caloric value to your diet.
Stevia is a hot topic non-nutritive sweetener on the market right now. Many people believe it is a “healthier” option because it is derived from a plant rather than from chemicals that are hard to pronounce. Although this has not been scientifically established, all the options mentioned this far have been deemed safe for human consumption. I hate to be redundant, however, if Stevia is your choice sweetener for whatever reason, enjoy, but enjoy in moderation!
Monk Fruit is another non-nutritive sweetener gaining popularity because it comes from a fruit. The calorie free and super sweet compound mogroside is found in the monk fruit and now being used in more foods and beverages as an alternative to past sugar substitutes and sugar itself.
Sugar substitutes allow you to enjoy a little sweetness without the calories. Whether you prefer Splenda or plain white table sugar it is important to remember that the key is moderation. Don’t go overboard with any one kind of sweetener and avoid negative health implications. If you are unsure about the safety of sweeteners you consume, have other concerns, ask your registered dietitian or email Jenna: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Alex: My name is Alexandria Wolz. I moved from my home city of San Francisco in 2011 & currently am a Junior in the Nutrition & Food Sciences department at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I work as a student employee at a community nutrition program called Eat.Right.Now & also volunteer at the VA Hospital. Between school and my extra curricular activities I am lucky enough to have the privilege of shadowing some amazing nutrition educators & clinical dieticians. I myself am an aspiring RD with a special interest in sports nutrition. I primarily train in Muay Thai, which is a form of kick boxing derived in Thailand, and also supplement with running, weight training, and yoga. Learning the science and application of nutrition is absolutely fascinating to me. I hope to share not only the knowledge I gain but also my passion for nutrition and physical activity with others!