Friday, April 17, 2009

Sugar Rush

This post is a brief one, but I thought this NY Times article from earlier in the week was worth a mention seeing as I've been bombarded recently with questions about the 'natural' calorie-free sweeteners that are hitting shelves. "Showdown at the Coffee Shop" takes readers through the ins and outs of sweeteners, from Splenda and Equal to the newly 'natural' sweeteners like TruVia and Stevia. My quick take--stick with the real stuff...sugar, honey, agave nectar. The powdered, packeted stuff is worlds sweeter than sugar itself and the research on any potential health risks is still TBD. One packet of Splenda is 600 times sweet than 16 calorie-packet of sugar or sugar in the raw (the brown pack). Stevia and TruVia, both processed from the stevia plant, may be calorie-free, but they're also 300 times sweeter than regular sugar. What's that mean for you and your coffee, diet soda, sugar-free cookies and candy? Well, artificially or alternatively sweetened products can de-sensitize your flavor palate for the taste of real, actual 'sweet' - if you're using quite a lot of them in your diet. If you're racking up the yellow, blue and pink packets, you might find yourself craving more sweet things and more carbohydrates (calorie-free or not). Your body recognizes real food best, as close to the original source as possible. Sweeteners don't register with the body, we're not satisfied, and we look for more. For a mere 16 calories, I'll happily take my packet of sugar in the raw for my morning coffee any day.

Anyhow, the article runs through the history of sweeteners, comparing and contrasting each. Keep an eye out for a wave of new 'naturally sweetened' products like Sprite Green and Trop50 (Tropicana that's diluted with water and sweetened with stevia). If you're a pink, blue or yellow lover, try weaning down to a packet or two per day. It might be battle for your taste buds, but I promise the fight will pay off in the long run.

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