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I need help with the maze of artificial sweeteners!

By January 23, 2009 - 10:33am
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Sweet and Low. Nutrasweet. Equal. Splenda. And now there's Truvia. (So many brands that the little packets-container on the restaurant tables are taking on the look of a rainbow!)

Who can make sense of them all? We all know that we need to cut back on sugar, but at least it's a more natural substance. It seems nearly impossible to avoid the use of some artificial sweeteners today, and they all (of course) want us to think that they are better than the others.

Is there any easy way to understand the differences between them, and therefore to make a decision about which might be better (or at least not as bad) for me?

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The American Botanical Council, the most reputable organization that monitors research and consumption of herbs around the world, has several research papers on Stevia and other herbs. Stevia is not only natural but offers high nutritional benefit over any other product in today's market. I am attending a medical conference this week where Stevia was discussed and the research presented to hundreds of physicians and other medical professionals. Many beverage companies including Pepsi and Coca Cola have announced a new line of drinks using Stevia.

I would not hesitate to recommend Stevia over any of the artificial sweeteners currently in the market! When purchasing products that claim to be stevia, please read the labels to ensure purity of product or what is added (there should not be anything added to enhance the natural sweetness of the plant.


January 24, 2009 - 11:06pm

I use Stevia regularly and it really doesn't taste sweeter than cane sugar. It's also marketed as "Purevia." It has come a long way from years ago when Stevia had a wierd taste.

Aspartame is was the ingredient that sparked a CDC investigation back in the 1980's, and again in following years, attempting to verify suggested links between the substance and conditions from chronic fatigue syndrome to brain cancer.

Splenda is a sugar substitute based on cane sugar and that I find a more concentrated sweet flavor than granulated sugar.

I rarely ever use white granulated sugar, opting for turbinado or brown sugar instead, if I need to use granulated in baking.

As Susan suggested, you can satisfy a sweet tooth with foods like raisins, apples and even carrots. Honey, pure maple sugar or molasses are good for sweetening fruit and beverages, except coffee (IMHO). Stevia is just fine in coffee and on grapefruit. I even drop a Hershey's dark chocolate kiss in my coffee, yum!

Because it ranks so high on the Glycemic Index, if you're concerned about your sugar intake, finding a good substitute for cane sugar is a good thing. Refined anything isn't really that healthy and can cause spikes in your insulin level.

Here's the Consumer Report on artificial sweeteners.

January 23, 2009 - 6:06pm
HERWriter Guide

I use a little real sugar when I need to, I don't use artificial anything, when it comes to sweeteners. It's like my thing with butter or ice-cream. When needed, use a little of the real thing! The body digests it better!

I will say that I have heard good things about Stevia, which is currently being advertised under the name Truvia. Stevia is a natural sweetener, coming from an herb from South America. Some say it tastes great, others don't like it at all. It's a lot sweeter than real sugar.

There has been some controversy about it, regarding it's safety. You can find it at "natural" food stores like Whole Foods, but we need to remember that just because something is natural, it may not be safe. Cocaine comes from the poppy flower, after all. The CDC just approved use of stevia as a food additive (it had, beforehand, considered it "unsafe") and Japan and China have used it for years. Research on the benefits and risks is varied.

Saccharin no longer carries warning labels about a link to cancer but a lot of soda pop (of the diet variety) contains aspartame which is not a healthy chemical to ingest on a frequent basis.

Do your research on all the artificial sweeteners out there. They all have their individual fans. Someone will swear than Sweet n Low is the best, and someone else will say that Stevia is all natural and has been used safely for years.

My personal opinion is that I don't understand why anyone uses fake sweeteners at all. I would instead recommend eating foods as they are, or using fresh fruit to sweeten cereals or other foods. You can also use honey, vanilla, applesauce, cinnamon, raisins, or even a little real sugar cane. There are a lot of options out there, and I'd pick fruit or cinnamon or raisins any day, over any kind of artificial sweetener.

But then again, I don't have a huge sweet tooth, aside from chocolate. My battle is with my liking of salt!

January 23, 2009 - 3:16pm
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