Over the last several decades, sugar has become a villain in the modern American diet. A general fear of sugar has led to a sugarphobia, which can lead to a dependency on chemical sweetener substitutes, which then creates a craving for "replacement foods." Sugar is blamed for causing many health problems including heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, fatigue, depression, hyperactivity, and even criminal behavior. But:

* Is this accurate information?
* Are we blaming the "right" form of sugar for our health problems?
* Has dis-information over time created a fear of sugar?

Don't panic - I'm not advocating eating refined processed, "white" sugar. The key here: consuming normal or moderate quantities of UNPROCESSED sugar, and avoiding an even more dangerous issue - turning to artificial sweeteners as a solution for avoiding refined sugars! People seeking to avoid harmful, manufactured sugars are turning to an even more harmful solution - chemical sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are not the solution to avoiding refined sugars.

What does the FDA say? According to a FDA Report from the Sugars Task Force, added sugar at current levels is not detrimental to health. They state, "when normal or moderate quantities (of sugar) are consumed, sugar cannot be linked to any disease, nor does it create a dependency." The key here: "normal or moderate quantities."

Use Natural Sugar As Opposed To Artificial Sugars: According to Consumer's Research Magazine: "refined sugars and chemical sugar substitutes benefit the corporations manufacturing and marketing them, but do not benefit the consumers." They write: "Are such foods truly beneficial and desirable? Diabetics, weight watchers, and the general public might make better food choices by selecting basic, rather than highly processed foods; for example, apples rather than turnovers; or plain dairy foods rather than sweetened."

As of 1990, Americans were consuming an average of twenty pounds of artificial sweeteners. Yet interestingly, as the consumption of sugar-substitutes continues to rise, so too has the consumption of refined sugar.

"Sugar, averaging fifteen calories per teaspoon," states Andy Briscoe of the National Sugar Association, "is blamed for America's obesity epidemic, a perception perpetuated by the artificial sweetener market."

What do the artificial sweetener manufacturers say? "A moderate coffee drinker who chooses sugar, consumes an additional 20,000 calories a year, and a heavy coffee drinker adds 80,000," says Lael Edelstein, Manager of Nutrition Communication for Chicago's Merisant Corp., now manufacturing Equal®.

So the debate continues. The study's authors suggest sugar-free foods may play a role in the nation's obesity epidemic. Other scientists, however, dismiss that conclusion. But for every advocate touting the health advantages of the artificial sweeteners, there are at least as many cautioning against their use.

What Are Safe Natural Sweeteners To Choose?

* Stevia*
* Raw, unprocessed sugar (Sucanat®)
* Brown Rice Syrup
* Barley Malt
* Date Sugar
* Honey
* Maple Syrup
* Molasses
* Sorghum
* Agave Nectar

*Safe for diabetics. Stevia is similar to saccharin - use it sparingly or it is bitter - otherwise, it's "naturally" delicious and a much healthier choice!

Secondary Natural Sweetener Choices (Use With Discretion)

* Fructose
* Fruit Juice Concentrate
* Juice Concentrate
* Sugar alcohols (Polyols)
* Isomalt
* Lactitol
* Malitol
* Mannitol
* Sorbitol
* Xylitol
* Turbinado® Sugar
* Tagatose

For more information on the secondary sweeteners and how they refine sugar, reference my articles in the newsletter archives.

Posted June 2005 | Permanent Link

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