Posts Tagged ‘Sweeteners’

Sugar or Artificial Sweeteners?

A couple weeks ago I posted a question on Facebook …

Sugar or artificial sweeteners.  Which do YOU choose?

The answers ranged from NEITHER to ONLY stevia to regular sugar, brown sugar and so on.  In other words, they ran the gamut.

Here’s our take.

IDEALLY, we’d say neither.

But since this is the real world, we’ll pick.  And we’d say SUGAR. 


Sit tight.  More specifically than sugar, we’d first say local honey. 

Is it magical with loads of powerful nutrients like some profess?  Nope.

BUT, at least it’s more slowly absorbed than regular sugar and there are actually some interesting data showing local honey (local to your area) may help with allergies and they’re also experimenting with it in healing wounds.  NOTE, we don’t suggest pouring honey on an open wound and hoping for the best.  There’s certainly more to it than that.

Let’s explore this a bit further.

First, adults eat about 22 teaspoons of ADDED sugar each day. That’s equal to washing down a candy bar by guzzling down two 12 oz cans of soda.

Teens are even worse with 34 tsp of added sugar per day.

So instead of washing that candy bar down with 2 cans of soda, add another can on top of that for teens.  EACH day.

Soft drinks are the #1 contributor to this glut of sugar, followed by candy, cakes, cookies and pie.  Sad.

Is it weird, then, that our answer to "Sugar vs. Artificial Sweeteners" is "sugar?"

Let’s step back for a second.

Added sugars are horrible for you.  The majority of the population eats WAY too many.

But we’re not so keen on artificial sweeteners either.  Why?  Well, they’re artificial chemicals that we’re dumping into our bodies and while data is out there that these are safe in certain doses, there’s also been a lot of safety data for pharmaceutical medications like Vioxx, which they ended up pulling off the market for a variety of safety concerns.  Maybe less severe, but certain artificial sweeteners are triggers for migraines and more recently, some data suggests artificial sweeteners affect body weight and blood sugar.

Again, you see the dilemma in that it’s a hard question to answer.

What makes it particularly difficult is the answer "neither" is not practical.

Case in point.  In Louisville yesterday nearly 3000 athletes competed in the Ironman — an event where you swim, bike and run a total of 140.6 miles.  I did it 3 years ago.  It’s certainly not easy.

But you wouldn’t decide on Saturday that you were going to participate in this race the next day.

Likewise, it’s not practical to take someone with a several soda per day habit and say NEVER again will you drink soda.  And don’t think about replacing it with the diet alternative … just drink water from this point forward!

Small Steps = Big Results!

We believe if you currently use a lot of added sugars — soda, candy, cakes, cookies, etc — target ONE of those and change that.

Currently drink a can of coke each morning?

The switch to Diet Coke is a good small step.

Work with that for 1 week. 

The following week, continue with that first step and improve something else too.

Maybe if you’re a vending machine person in the afternoon where you typically grab a candy bar, plan ahead and choose a piece of fruit instead.

Small Changes = Big Results!

Ultimately, continue to drink less and less of the soft drinks and replace them with their diet alternatives.  Then, down the road, again, replace those diet alternatives with something like water with fresh fruit cut up, or use a berry green tea and make unsweetened iced tea.

Lots of options, you just have to think outside the box.

The key overall with sugar OR artificial sweeteners is moderation.  Like we said, neither are great.  Is having 1 sweet treat on occasion going to kill you?  Of course not.

At the same time, don’t rationalize your daily soda and cookie habit as "moderation."

What do YOU think?  Sugar or artificial sweeteners?

Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!



Sugar: More Addictive than Drugs?

We talked recently about the dangers of sugar – an ingredient (among others) that is killing us! 

A friend of ours — Jeff O’Connell — just published a book, Sugar Nation: The Hidden Truth Behind America’s Deadliest Habit and the Simple Way to Beat It, that is starting to gain some serious attention about this very topic.  Interestingly, Jeff has type 2 diabetes — but at 6’6, very lean and active, he’s certainly not your "typical" type 2 diabetes patient. 

So in the book he talks to a ton of researchers, physicians and others looking deeper at some of the causes of the disease that’s growing by 7,000 people PER DAY. 

Well, Americans are certainly eating enough sugar to make it toxic.  While surely there are some controversial nutrition recommendations in the book, it’s important to look at some facts about sugar. 

sugar is toxicAdded sugars make up about 16% of total calories in the American Diet — SIXTEEN!  That means 16% of the American Diet is not just void of ANY nutrients whatsoever, but it’s filled with completely useless calories.


And ‘added sugars’ means sugars from any source — white sugar, brown sugar, organic sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soda, honey, organic cane sugar, etc.  The sugars mainly found in processed foods are added sugars and so are any sugars you personally add.  Basically, any sugar that’s not naturally found in foods like fruits, veggies or dairy products so don’t use these new "rules" as a way to say you have to stop eating fruits and veggies.  That’s taking smart guidelines and applying them to what you may want to hear.


Just to give you an idea — here are a few of the major culprits of added sugar in Americans’ diets.


  • Soda, energy drinks, sports drinks: 36% contribution to total added sugar intake
  • Cakes, cookies, pies: 13%
  • Fruit drinks and “-ades” (not 100% fruit juice): 10.5%

Sugar has earned a spot on the AHA’s black list — saying it’s basically a "negative nutrient" that needs to be limited for your heart’s sake (and, really, every other organ in your body too).

The AHA recommends that added sugar intake be limited to 100 calories (25 grams, or 6 teaspoons) per day for women and to 150 calories (about 37 grams, or 9 teaspoons) per day for men.  To be honest, even less would be even better…the less, the better. 

Keep in mind that now, the average American eats over 350 calories each day in sugar alone (about 22 teaspoons,or nearly 3-12 oz cans of soda)!  Talk about a way to make sure you gaining belly fat and ruining your health!

Added sugars have NO place in your body whatsoever.  NONE.  ZERO.  ZIP.  (NOTE: for certain athletes, sports drinks and post workout drinks CAN play a role, but that’s not the majority of the population).  Unfortunately the majority of the population are those who still drink too many of those things yet don’t move their bodies.

Here’s the deal.

Adding sugar to your diet is like pouring mud down your throat.  Gross, right?  Yeah, they have about the same amount of nutrients — actually, the mud probably has more!

The study I’m referring to was published in AHA’s Scientific Journal, Circulation … and they talk about the link between high sugar intake and insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and type 2 diabetes.  Of course we can also point to the increase in belly fat from eating too much sugar, which can lead to basically every other disease known to man.

Very simply, we are OVERFED YET UNDERNOURISHED!!!  And added sugars need to go.

In fact, the AHA has a very strong conclusion in their study: "There is sufficient evidence to link excessive sugar intake to the pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease."

Scary stuff.  That is, unless you’re not "in the know."

Tricks to limit added sugars

This is what we do to limit added sugars and make sure we don’t throw ouroverall "diet" in the toilet.

  • Eat whole foods with a max of 5 ingredients each (preferably just 1 ingredient) — fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, whole grains, & fish, as each are void of added sugars.
  • If it comes in a package, leave it on the shelf (think snacks, pastries, cookies, most breakfast cereals, etc)
  • Leave foods on the shelf if they have any of these as the first few ingredients: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, sugar (dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, syrup.

Kudos to the American Heart Association … most governing bodies haven’t stepped it up and made such a bold move.

If you liked the article above, please click the ‘Like’ button below for Facebook and leave a comment on the blog 


Sweet Surrender — Xylitol and Whey Low, Part 3

Xylitol (Malitol, and anything else ending in "…ol")

These sweeteners are known as sugar alcohols.  Xylitol is found naturally in a few foods, like beets and corn.  It is also used to as a sweetener in many low sugar, "low carb" items … sugar free gums and many "energy bars" come to mind, but also some beverages and other products as well.

So what’s the deal?  Is THIS the best sweetener that’s out there?

Xxylitol does have a few calories (about half that of sugar).  It’s almost as sweet as sugar and is only partially absorbed by the body.  Most packages suggest you can substitute for half the sugar in a recipe if using it as a replacement.

There are some solid data suggesting xylitol prevents bacteria from causing plaque to stick to teeth (hence its use in gums).  On the downside, too much of this stuff will make you a very unpleasant dinner guest as you’re running to the bathroom.  Remember, it’s not digested well by the body — good for calorie control, bad for, well, causing gas, bloating, and diarrhea.  Not sure those few extra calorie "savings" are worth it — just eat a little less to save the calories!

This last negative effect shouldn’t be an issue if you’re chewing some sugar free gum, but be careful eating too many "sugar free" type bars or other products, as they may have a pretty good amount of this stuff.

Whey Low

This one is a new kid on the block.  Many may not have even heard of it.

Basically it’s a unique combination of different naturally occurring sugars — fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar), and lactose (milk sugar).

While that doesn’t sound that "special" — the unique combination of sugars is supposed to make them interfere with each other so they’re not fully absorbed, meaning less calories, but the same sweetness.  

It can be used as a sugar substitute in cooking since its flavor and texture are so similar; the problem is it’s a bit more difficult to find.

Whole Foods and similar stores often carry it.  Let’s see if it makes it a little more mainstream …

…to my knowledge, there’s no research using Whey Low vs. other sweeteners, but the concept is good.  I like "real" ingredients vs. the artificial stuff.

So that’s a wrap on the sweeteners — from sugar to xylitol and most in between!!! 

Take home points?  Eat real foods and if you can’t pronounce the name, keep it on the shelf!

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