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Oklahoma Sports and Fitness March/April 2015 : Page 14

Sugar Substitutes: To Use Or Not To Use? Nutrition • Sloan Taylor , MS, RD, CSSD, LD There isn’t a week that goes by that someone doesn’t ask me about sugar substitutes. I find it to be one of the most pondered food components currently in use. Many people are surprised to learn that they consume them without even knowing it. Sure, you may think that someone intentionally uses it in their coffee, tea, on cereal or when they purchase a diet soft drink, but did you know that many food manufacturers use sugar substitutes in their processed food items? Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix contains acesulfame potassium also known as Ace-K. General Mills Original Fiber One breakfast cereal contains aspartame. Both Thomas' Light Multi-Grain English Muffins and Orville Redenbaccher’s kettle korn popcorn contain Sucralose. You can also find them in your chewable vitamins, toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum, and pharmaceuticals. These are just a few of the products that contain sugar substitutes. Who knew? It is important to know what is classified as a sugar substitute followed by the question of why someone selects to use them. It is a personal choice and who can argue that it is best to be informed when choosing the food or beverage you consume. This is your body we’re talking about, and many strive to treat it as a temple. This review will not bore you with statistics of billions of dollars spent on sugar substitutes, or the refined sugar content of your food and beverages, and certainly not the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or the controversy related to that industry. Rather, it is intended to relay information on what is used in place of the item you know as table sugar (sucrose). For that matter, we can include other forms of sugar that a sugar sub will replace: dextrose, glucose, fructose, honey, agave, brown sugar, cane sugar, raw sugar, corn sugar, invert sugar, fruit juice concentrate, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, malt syrup, high-maltose corn syrup, and corn syrup (not the same as HFCS). Sugar subs can be used as a singular substitute or a combination of them to lower the calorie content of a food, beverage, candy, or whatnot. A few things to point out: sugar as an ingredient is not a toxic monster. Remember, a good target is the amount of refined sugar that we consume and not necessarily the natural sugar do actually provide calories (often about half contained in fruits and vegetables. You will see of what sugar provides). They do not contain crystalized sugar within a piece of watermelon, alcohol (ethanol) as presumed. More on sugar but that does not constitute that the inherent alcohols later. sugar of that fruit is a poisonous, deadly, and A rtificial Sweeteners: lethal substance. People strive to avoid refined sugar in their prepackaged, commercialized A cesulfame-Potassium (Ace-K) was only food products (not the monosaccharides, permitted in foods originally. In 1998, the disaccharides, or polysaccharides present in FDA allowed it in soft-drinks, and it is about whole foods). Hint: fill your shopping cart with 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is often used nature’s whole foods and you automatically avoid refined sugar. A second point to make is that a “natural” sweetener used as a sugar sub does not mean the extraction was chemical-free. Ironically, the process to acquire some of the natural sweeteners to be discussed in this review may include chemical purification. This seems to detract from the concept of “natural.” Lastly, the true focus is ultimately food safety. This discussion may prompt you to analyze what you may want to eliminate and what you Read your ingredient list to educate want to incorporate yourself on what you were unaware that as part of your food selections. you were consuming. Brace yourself, So let’s get down to business and define this can be very surprising. sugar substitutes: a together with sucralose or aspartame. Its trade food additive that is either synthetic or derived from a “natural” source that duplicates the taste name is Nutrinova. of sugar and typically provides less calories or A dvantame is the newest and the sweetest no calories compared to sugar (see extensive list artificial sweetener (just approved May 2014) of sugar forms at left). The categories include and provides 20,000 times the sweetness of artificial sweeteners, natural high-potency sweeteners, and sugar alcohols. Currently, the sugar; made from aspartame and vanillin. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows A spartame was discovered in 1965, and for the following seven sweeteners: saccharin, purchased later by Monsanto. In 1992, the patent aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium expired and the price dropped significantly. It is (Ace-K), stevia, neotame, and advantame. Sugar alcohols are separate from that list and currently the most popular artificial sweetener 14 MARCH / APRIL 2015 | OKSPORTSANDFITNESS.COM

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