About Me

Note from Maria: I am a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Public Health Degree in Nutrition from UNC at Chapel Hill. I have a passion for helping people with nutrition & wellness, especially moms. Women & moms provide care for everyone else often at the expense of considering their own needs. I hope to provide good resources to you to help you make nutrition and wellness a priority.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More about Artificial Sweeteners.......

If you are trying to avoid artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes....it can be tricky. Some foods have them "hidden", meaning they are in the ingredient label (small print on back) but it is not indicated on the front panel. You really have to read food ingredient labels to know what you are eating (this is a recurring theme). For example, Splenda is also known as sucralose. This sounds a lot like sucrose (which is regular table sugar), but sucralose is not! The word 'sucralose' easily blends in on ingredient labels. Recently I have noticed sucralose (Splenda) in items such as bread/English muffins, cereal, juice drinks, etc that I would have not suspected from reading the front panel. Marketing folks are smart, on the front panel they can advertise "lower sugar" or "less calories" making it attractive to buy, but don't readily explain they have added artificial sweeteners instead. The law requires that  all ingredients be included on the ingredient list on the back or side of the package, so that is where you need to check to see what the food item contains. Here is some info to help you figure this out: 

Artificial sweeteners: compounds which taste sweet or sweet-like. These have zero calories or have so little calorie content in the amount needed for sweetness that they are essentially without calories. Here is a list of artificial sweeteners used in the US: 
  • Splenda aka Sucralose
  • Aspertame aka Nutrasweet or Equal
  • Saccarhin aka Sweet 'n Low
  • Neotame
  • Acesulfame potassium or acesulfame K  aka Sunett/Sweet One
  • Stevia or Truvia (is actually approved as a food additive)
Sugar alcohols: Sugar molecules which are modified so that the we don't break them down and absorb them completely during digestion. Therefore we get less calories from them when compared to regular sugar. The extra "stuff" not which is not absorbed into the blood is excreted in waste (ends up in poop). Because the extra goes into your intestines, the bacteria in your digestive tract are very happy to "eat" this extra sugar. This can cause cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. So don't eat too much at once! Sugar alcohols do have an effect on blood sugar, but to a lesser extent than regular sugar. Here is a list of the sugar alcohols: 
  • xylitol
  • sorbitol
  • mannitol
  • maltitol
  • lactitol
  • isomalt
  • hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)
  • hydrogenated glucose syrups (HGS)
I hope this helps you identify which foods contain artificial sweeteners. Let me know if you have questions!!

sources:  www.fda.gov & www.mayoclinic.com

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