How can a “sugar free” product still effect your blood sugar? Artificial sweeteners like sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame don’t contain carbohydrates or calories, so they won’t impact blood sugar levels. However, The New York Times reports, these sugar substitutes are accompanied by sugar alcohols in many foods labeled sugar free.
Not quite a sugar or an alcohol, sugar alcohols have a molecular structure that looks like a cross between the two. Food manufacturers add them to “sugar free” products like chocolate, hard candy, cookies, and chewing gum. Sugar alcohols do have fewer calories than normal sugar, but still have some impact on blood sugar. (more…)
When low-fat diets were all the rage in the ’80s, many manufacturers turned to sugar and artificial sweeteners to put flavor back into products that previously contained fat. The artificial, non-nutritive sweeteners often won out as the calorie-free diet option. The trend had lead to a generation of super-sweet foodstuffs that stoke sugar cravings. The average artificial sweetener is 200 to 300 times sweeter than natural sugar, writes nutritionist and author Susan B. Dopart for The Huffington Post.
Little packets of artificial sweetener are an appealing way to cut down on calories. But what else are you giving up? Real sugar can trigger the body to feel full and satisfied. “When you are consuming alternative sweeteners, you are trying to fool your body. And guess what? It doesn’t work,” writes Dopart. “Your body knows what you are giving it is fake, so instead of being satisfied, it continues to send the signal that it wants to consume something sweet.”
Every few years a new sugar alternative hits the market. People who prefer to get their sweeteners’ calorie-free rush to buy up the local supermarket’s stock and eagerly tout the benefits of the latest and greatest sweet invention. About a decade ago sucrolose (aka Splenda) gave Sweet ‘n Low and Equal a run for their money. Agave nectar has received a “health halo” among some people, despite the fact that it is nearly all fructose and may be worse for your health than table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Most recently, another non-sugar has made a splash in our coffees.
Stevia (sold at health food stores as Truvia, PureVia, Sun Crystals, among others) is made from the sweetest part of the South American stevia plant. The human body cannot use these steviol glycosides as fuel which means the calorie and carbohydrate count is zero. It also tastes 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.
Have you turned your love of sugar in to a love of agave in an effort to be healthier? Maybe you should rethink much “love” you give it. If you are unfamiliar, agave nectar (ah gav ee) is a sweetener that ranges in color from light to dark, depending on the processing time and amount of minerals in the product. It is less thick than honey or maple syrup and has a sweeter taste. The agave sweetener comes from various species of the agave plant. After the juice has been extracted, it is heated to create simple sugars. The final product is some percentage of the sugars glucose and fructose. (more…)
While diet soda is a better choice than full-sugar drinks, they aren’t free of health risks. A new study has found that anything more than one diet soda a day may increase one’s risk of decreased kidney function.
The study was conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. They examined the effects of sodium and artificial sweeteners on kidney function among 3,256 women with a median age of 67. The women filled out a questionnaire about their soda drinking habits.
When the researchers compared the women’s kidney function, they found that 372 had a decline of 30 percent or more in kidney function. Further analysis revealed that the decline was associated with drinking two or more artificially sweetened soft drinks a day. (more…)