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Artificial Sweeteners Not So Sweet

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Bad news for dieters: Artificial sweeteners like saccharin (Sweet’n Low) and sucralose (Splenda) actually make you gain weight… Time magazine reported that a study at Purdue University found that the body is not easily fooled when it comes to artificial sweeteners. In fact, our bodies have been conditioned to expect an onslaught of calories when it tastes something sweet (our metabolism actually “revs up” to start burning them). So when there are fewer calories introduced with an artificial sweetener, we end up consuming more to make the sweet – high calorie link, and ultimately gain more weight. Alternatives? Use organic cane sugar (in sane quantities) or agave nectar to sweeten food. Ever wonder what’s really in those bright little packets of sweeteners? You might not want to know, but click here.

Dec. 22 2009 |
  1. Jas

    I know it is relatively new in the US but has anyone heard anything good or bad about stevia?

  2. jane

    Hi Jas,
    Stevia promoters are giddy to give it the “natural” label since the sweetener is derived from a plant, but many people are skeptical about long-term effects. One reader also pointed out that some of the strongest poisons in the world come from plants. Read more here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/dining/15sweet.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=stevia&st=cse

  3. chip

    I’ve tried stevia and I found it to have a bitter (not sweet) taste. It may be the peculiarity of my own taste buds (or I had a bad sample), but it really turned me off.

  4. Kurt

    Can you help me understand if high fructose corn syrup is any worse/better than sugar (other than large qtys of both?) It seems to me both are reasonably healthy sweeteners consumed in healthy quantitys. Can you help me understand this one?

  5. jane

    Sure, Kurt, thanks for the question! You’re right, high fructose corn syrup is essentially the same as sugar. The problem is that high fructose corn syrup is HIDDEN in foods we eat constantly, and foods that you would not think of as “sweet” like hamburgers and french fries. HFCS is cheaper than sugar and is also used as a stabilizer, so, for example, it keeps shelved foods fresher longer. Economically, it is in the best interest of food producers to use HFCS over sugar. The problem is that by putting it in so many of our foods, we are unknowingly getting a much larger intake of sugar, contributing to the spike in diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. Does that help?

  6. Kurt

    That’s exactly what I needed to know. I find myself reading labels at my Walmart store + co-op in an attempt to better understand my food. What a food revolution we are experiencing! Thanks again Jane!

  7. jane

    And that’s the best thing you can do: read labels! You’d be surprised what a difference there can be between brands. Thanks again for the question — always good to revisit and discuss!

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