Sugar substitutes can help reduce added sugars in the diet

Halloween, Diabetes & Sweet Indulgences – How to Make the Right Choices

This post was written as a guest blog for Aspartame.org. You can read the original post here.

It’s that time of year when our homes and offices become filled with an assortment of chocolatey, chewy and crunchy candies as we approach Halloween and its aftermath. I know I can’t resist grabbing a few fun-sized bags of my favorite M&Ms from the trick-or-treat bowl when I see them. But what does this sugar-laden holiday mean for the 30 million American children and adults who have diabetes? And how much added sugar can the rest of us enjoy without putting our health at risk?

According to a new survey from the National Confectioner’s Association (NCA), Halloween is the top candy-giving holiday of the year with retail sales expected to reach $2.6 billion in 2015! Fortunately, most people understand candy is a treat to be enjoyed in moderation and nearly 80 percent of parents report they have a plan in place to help children make smart choices after bringing home their Halloween haul. Some parents limit the number of pieces their child is allowed per day while others limit the stash to a certain amount and then get rid of the rest. I like to swap out some candy for sugar-free gum since chewing it can help prevent cavities at the same time it eliminates a food that can cause them.

Limiting the added sugar in the diet

Since Halloween isn’t the only time of year when we eat candy it helps to know how much added sugar we can include in our diets to make room for it when we do. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends we limit added sugar to less than 10 percent of our total calories.  This is equivalent to around 50 grams of sugar (12 teaspoons) a day for someone consuming 2000 calories. The WHO suggests further reductions in added sugar to less than five percent of total calories for additional health benefits.

The NCA reported candy contributes about 50 calories a day to the average American diet, which can mean 4-12 grams of sugar (1-3 teaspoons) depending on the type of candy. That would get you approximately 2 chocolate kisses or 2 hard candies, so if your habit is greater than that you may want to satisfy your sweet tooth with the sugar-free varieties.

Carbohydrates, Candy and Diabetes

The good news for people with diabetes is that the day after Halloween is the start of American Diabetes Month. November 1st is a perfect time to refocus on the goals for good diabetes management, including eating a healthy and balanced diet. Added sugars can be a part of it, but the amount is based on individual carbohydrate allowances at each meal and snack. Since many foods that provide essential nutrients are also a source of carbohydrate, such as fruit, grains and vegetables, it is important for people with diabetes to use their available carbohydrate count for those choices first.

Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, provide a way to sweeten foods and beverages without unwanted sugar, carbohydrates and calories. For example, a packet of Equal® can replace 2 teaspoons of sugar in a cup of coffee, bowl of oatmeal or dish of yogurt. Another option is to make your own sweet treats like these Double Chocolate Brownies and Fruit Kabobs with Coconut Cream Dipping Sauce. They do have calories and carbohydrates from other ingredients, but less than the original versions and still taste great.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian, cultural anthropologist and scientific advisor to the Calorie Control Council, whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness.  Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

 

Vegetables in jars and cans from your pantry shelf add nutritional value to salad when fresh produce is not available

9 Nutritious Salad Toppers (From Your Pantry Shelf)

Vegetables in jars and cans add nutritional value to salad when fresh produce is not available

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you love making salad from the wide assortment of fresh garden vegetables available in the summer months, your wait is almost over. But while you wait, there are many ways to add variety to your plated greens. Just turn to the jars and cans of pickled and marinated vegetables on your pantry shelf. They can offer an endless array of tastes, textures, nutrients and eye-appeal to your meals until that first rosey radish is plucked from the ground.

 Artichoke-Hearts-10-12-14oz_0

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Artichoke Hearts

Sold marinated or packed in water, both easily drained to lower the sodium content

Calories: 25 in 3 water-packed hearts or 25 per heart packed in oil and drained

Key Vitamins: C, folate

Key Minerals: magnesium, copper, potassium

Other Nutrients: cyanin and silymarin which aid liver function

Reese Specialty Foods

beets

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Beets

Sold whole, quartered or sliced with a no added salt option.

Calories: 35 per half cup sliced, 22 whole per 2 inch diameter

Key Vitamins: folate, C

Key Mineral: manganese, potassium, magnesium

Other Nutrients: betacyanin, which may protect against colon cancer

Food in Jars

corn

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Baby Corn

Sold whole and in pieces, packed in water

Calories: 6 per ear, 65 per ½ cup pieces

Key Vitamins: folate, B6, C

Key Mineral: potassium, magnesium, iron

Other Nutrients: fiber, zeaxanthin and lutein, which are good for eye health

Roland Food Company Baby Corn

 asparagus

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Asparagus

Sold whole and in pieces, in white or green

Calories: 3 per spear, 20 per half cup pieces drained

Key Vitamins: A, C, K, folate

Key Mineral: copper, manganese, selenium

Other Nutrients: carotenes and cryto-xanthins, which have anti-oxidant properties

Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board

 olives

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Better Salad: Olives

Sold in different sizes ripe, cured, stuffed, spiced, and sliced; in single or mixed varieties; pitted or not

Calories: 5 each for medium size, 75 per ½ cup sliced or chopped

Key Vitamins: E, A

Key Mineral: calcium, iron, zinc

Other Nutrients: oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, needed to form cell membranes

Lindsay Olives

 0002000010728

 9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Mushrooms

Sold whole and in pieces; pickled, marinated or in water

Calories: 3 per whole mushroom, 22 per ½ cup pieces

Key Vitamins: D and B-complex vitamins riboflavin, niacin, pantothentic acid

Key Mineral: copper, selenium, potassium

Key Phytonutrients: ergothioneine, an antioxidant which protects the cells

The Mushroom Council

 peppers.2

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Peppers

Sold grilled and roasted; whole, sliced, strips and diced; red, green, yellow and orange

Calories: 40 calories per whole bell pepper,

Key Vitamins: A, C, folate

Key Mineral: potassium, iron, magnesium

Other Nutrients: beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lycopene, which can be converted into vitamin A

B&G Peppers

sun_dried_tomato_halves_1lb_websitesize_1

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Red or yellow; marinated or in water; whole, halved or sliced; plain or seasoned

Calories: 6 per whole piece in oil and drained; 115 per half cup sliced in oil and drained

Key Vitamins: A, C, B-complex riboflavin, niacin, B6

Key Mineral: potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium

Other Nutrients: lycopene, associated with lower risks of cancer and heart disease

Tomato Products Wellness Council

 FPX15084

9 Nutritious Ways to Make a Healthy Salad: Onions

Sold in water, vinegar or “cocktail” style brine

Calories: 5 each small whole (size of grape), 35 per ½ cup

Key Vitamins: C, B6, folate

Key Minerals: potassium, phosphorus, calcium

Other Nutrients: quercetin, helps eliminate free radicals

The National Onion Association

Beauty secret found in fruits and vegetables has anti-aging properties

Anti-Aging Beauty Secret Discovered in the Produce Aisle

Beauty secret found in fruits and vegetables has anti-aging properties

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Finding the secret to beautiful skin as you age is as simple as turning the pages of your family album. Just look at the photographs of your parents and grandparents to find the clues to how your skin might look as you get older. That’s because genetics play a big role in the appearance of your skin.

But is there a beauty secret for those of us who didn’t inherit the gene?

Eat More Antioxidants

The quality of your diet affects every organ in your body and your skin is no exception. Proper nutrition also has an effect on the overall aging process, so eating foods that inhibit or slow down aging holds the secret to more beautiful skin as well.

The best anti-aging foods are the ones rich in anti-oxidants.

Free radicals are formed as a consequence of our daily exposure to oxygen and pollutants in the environment. If left unchecked, they damage and destroy healthy cells in the body. Antioxidants prevent that process from getting out of control. Today, our bodies cannot produce as many antioxidants as we need to control the large numbers of free radicals we form, so we must to consume more foods rich in antioxidants to supply them.

Feed the Skin From Within

Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants are abundant in the produce aisle. They’re easy to identify because of their rich, deep colors. In fact, the pigments of fruits and vegetables are a clue to their antioxidant content.

Research has also found that eating those colorful pigments from fruits and vegetables gives you a rosier complexion, which is associated with increased attractiveness.

Studies done at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland found red and yellow plant pigments, known as carotenoids, are distributed to the surface of the skin when we eat enough of the produce containing them. Another study found the change in the skin’s color associated with eating these pigments was perceived as healthier looking and more attractive.

The changes in skin color were perceptible after six weeks when subjects ate three portions a day of the carotene-rich produce, including yams, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, peaches, apricots tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon. Those whose diets that did not include these foods became paler.

This study supports others that demonstrate diets high in antioxidants can slow the signs of aging and the development of skin cancer. But the best news of all is that it doesn’t matter who your relatives are to take advantage of this beauty treatment!

What’s your favorite recipe for beautiful skin?

Reducing added sugar by changing your coffee habit

How Sweet is Your Coffee? Let Me Count the Ways…

This post was written as a guest blog for Aspartame.org. You can read the original post here.

It seems every food and drink is celebrated with its own day on the calendar and coffee is no exception. September 29th is designated National Coffee Day and there are sure to be plenty of people raising a mug to honor the occasion since 83 percent of American adults claim they drink coffee – and it’s not just one cup – a according to the National Coffee Association. American coffee drinkers average three 8-ounce cups per day adding up to a total of 146 billion cups per year making the United States the biggest consumer of coffee in the world!

For regular coffee drinkers, placing an order or fixing a cup at home or work is typically done on “auto pilot” thanks to well-worn habits. These are behaviors that help us get through the day without having to make conscious decisions about everything we do. We develop habits after repeating a behavior so many times it becomes an automatic response to a situation.  Whether a habit is a good one or bad one, it’s going to be pretty consistent.

If you like your coffee sweet, that can mean you’re consuming a lot more sugar than you realize. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination found sweetened coffee and tea beverages contribute 7 percent of the added sugars consumed by Americans adults. A woman adding just one teaspoon of sugar to her three cups of coffee each day would be getting half of the 6 teaspoons of sugar per day recommended by the American Heart Association. Sugar isn’t the only way we sweeten our coffee. The average “pump” of flavored coffee syrup is equivalent to 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar, and most specialty drinks have three or four pumps.

Non-dairy creamers can also be a source of added sugars along with milk substitutes, such as almond, coconut and soymilk. Check the ingredient list on the products you use to see if they contain sugar, corn syrup or other caloric sweeteners. You may be surprised to find your favorite “creamer” is not only whitening your brew, but is sweetening it, too.

Adopting some new habits for how you order or fix your coffee can lead to big reductions in both added sugar and unwanted calories. If you start on National Coffee Day by replacing 3 teaspoons of sugar with a sugar substitute every day you’ll have eliminated 1,092 teaspoons of sugar by this time next year or nearly 10 pounds of sugar and over 15,400 calories! The more changes you make the more calories and added sugar you can eliminate.

Here are six healthy habits that will help get you started cutting down on added sugar while still enjoying your coffee sweet every day of the year.

  1. Use a low-calorie sweetener like Equal® in place of sugar to get the sweetness of 2 teaspoons of sugar with just 4 calories compared to 32 calories in 2 teaspoons of sugar
  2. Switch from syrup to spices like nutmeg, cinnamon or cocoa powder to add flavor without sugar or calories
  3. Request sugar-free syrup with zero calories per pump instead of sugar-sweetened syrup with 20 calories per pump
  4. Order a smaller size drink since the bigger the drink the more sugar, syrup and creamer you use
  5. Try a sugar-free non-dairy creamer to save 20 calories and 5 grams sugar per tablespoon
  6. Ask for just a spoonful of whipped cream rather than the full cap that traditionally covers the cup.

 

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness.  Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

 

Questions about the safety of Splenda have been answered

Answering the Important Question: Is SPLENDA® Safe?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

When I was growing up I was told that if you swallowed a watermelon seed a watermelon could grow in your stomach. One way my friends and I made sure that didn’t happen was to eat our watermelon outside on summer afternoons so we could spit them out – providing us with a great excuse to have spitting contests with the seeds. The myth of growing watermelons from swallowing seeds quickly faded when we realized we were swallowing cucumber seeds without becoming a garden bed for cucumbers. Not all food myths, however, go away so easily, especially when the topic has to do with safety.

I still receive many questions from patients who wonder about the safety of low-calorie sweeteners, including products containing sucralose, which is also known as SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener. Although I’ve written about how low-calorie sweeteners are approved and whether they’re safe for children and pregnant women before, I think it’s time to put the myth about the safety of sucralose to rest once and for all.

Is Sucralose Safe? Is SPLENDA® Safe?

Sucralose was approved as a general purpose sweetener in 1999 after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed more than 100 safety studies, including studies to assess cancer risk. The results showed no evidence that sucralose causes cancer or poses any other threat to human health. It also has no known side effects in humans and no adverse effects in test animals when given amounts equal to the sweetness of more than 40 pounds of sugar per day for life!

Another important point that speaks to the safety of sucralose is that the FDA approved its use by children of all ages and by women who are pregnant or lactating. A number of the studies required by the FDA specifically looked at embryo-fetal development and showed no birth defects or any other effect that would compromise normal development. Similarly, people with diabetes or pre-diabetes can safely use sucralose over their lifetime without concern. Studiesusing high-doses of sucralose for prolonged periods of time in people with and without diabetes showed it does not interfere with blood glucose control or insulin secretion.

Given the body of research on sucralose, it’s surprising to me that questions still come up about its safety. The good news is that extensive safety testing conducted over 20 years has led to the confirmation of the safety of sucralose by important regulatory, health and food safety authorities throughout the world. This has resulted in millions of people using sucralose in the more than 80 countries where it is available. And its presence in over 4000 products enables a wide range of lower-sugar products that can make important contributions to diets aimed at healthy eating.

If there is any doubt in your mind about whether sucralose is safe, it just may be that you were not aware of its extensive safety record. Let’s put the myth to rest and enjoy SPLENDA® Sweetener Products with a smile – reducing added sugar in the diet can be a great addition to healthy meal planning!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well. 

References:

 

Remove added sugar without giving up the sweet taste you love

How to Reduce Added Sugar Intake and Still Satisfy a Sweet Tooth

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Do you still have a can opener in your kitchen? It may soon become obsolete as more cans are being designed with pull-tops or replaced by microwavable tubs and pouches. I’m sure most of us will have no difficulty getting used to life without ever cranking a can opener again. Now imagine being told you have diabetes and must reduce the carbohydrate and added sugar in your diet. Not being able to dip into the sugar bowl as often as you want may be harder to accept, especially if you’re like me and enjoy a little something sweet every day.

Fortunately, there are ways to satisfy a sweet tooth while still following a healthy diet for diabetes.

Living With Less Added Sugar

As I wrote in a previous blog about artificial sweeteners and diabetes, people with diabetes have the same basic nutritional needs as the rest of us. We all need to eat a well-balanced diet to maintain good health. That means including plenty of fruits and vegetables every day; adding beans, nuts and seeds to weekly menus; regularly choosing whole grains over refined grains; and selecting lean meats, low-fat dairy products and plant-based oils for a healthy fat profile.

Another thing we all need to do, whether we follow a diet for diabetes or not, is reduce the amount of added sugar we consume. Our average sugar intake in the U.S. is around 20 teaspoons a day per person and most nutrition experts say it should be about half that amount.

How to Reduce Sugar Intake

A simple way to reduce your sugar intake is to replace some added sugar with low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener. Sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweeteners) has been determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be safe for the entire population.

Think about all of the foods and drinks you now sweeten with sugar, honey or maple syrup to see where you can make some changes. If you have 3 cups of coffee every day and add 2 teaspoons of sugar to each, using a single packet of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener for each cup instead will provide the same sweet taste and eliminate 6 teaspoons of sugar a day! If you add a tablespoon of brown sugar to your morning bowl of oatmeal and switch to a half tablespoon of SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend you can enjoy that same sweet flavor with half as much sugar. The more swaps you make, the lower your added sugar intake will be without giving up the sweet taste you love.

Maintaining a well-balanced diet with less added sugar is not the only way to manage diabetes. Staying physically active, checking blood glucose levels and taking medications properly are all steps recommended for optimal diabetes management. Using the Diabetes Goal Tracker mobile app from the American Association of Diabetes Educators can help. It is based on 7 proven approaches to diabetes management (called the AADE7 Self-Care BehaviorsTM) and has valuable features such as reminders for when it’s time to “check in” and the option to share your completed goals with others as a source of motivation.

Living with diabetes and with consuming less added sugar may not be as difficult as you thought, so don’t be afraid if it’s time to say goodbye to your can-opener and to the sugar bowl on your kitchen table for good!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Gaining weight is easy on campus

Preventing College Weight Gain

This post was written as a guest blog for CalorieControl.org. You can read the original post here. 

There are many controversies in the field of nutrition, but one thing everyone seems to agree with is that it’s easy to gain weight! All it takes is a subtle disruption in the energy balance of the body. That can happen when we consume more calories (energy) than we need or are not active enough to use up all of the calories (energy) we’ve consumed – or a bit of both.

Living on a college campus can make it even easier to gain weight. The notorious “freshman 15” may be a bit exaggerated, but even gaining five pounds is more weight than most students want or need. Learning how to balance your energy while away at college may be one of the best lessons you can learn.

Here are 10 Tips for Fighting the Freshman Fifteen to help keep you in energy balance from your first year on campus to the last!

  1. Start your day with a meal – no matter what time you wake up – to avoid random snacking for the rest of the day.  Even a leftover slice of cheese pizza and a glass of orange juice counts as a meal!
  2. Take advantage of the breakfast items available all day for a nutritious and lower calorie meal, such as a cereal, yogurt, fruit parfait, vegetable omelet, or peanut butter and sliced banana on a toasted English muffin.
  3. Stock the mini fridge and personal food bin in your dorm room with single-serving calorie-controlled foods and drinks you can eat on the go, such as low calorie drinks in cans or bottles, granola bars, fruit cups, hummus, cheese sticks and yogurt.
  4. Schedule your physical activity for certain days and times each week, just like a class, so you’re sure to get it done – and never miss the chance to walk or ride a bike instead of taking a car or bus to class.
  5. Keep your hot and cold drinks lower in calories by adding a no calorie sweetener instead of sugar and choosing diet or low-calorie beverages made with them.
  6. Explore the international and vegetarian food choices in the cafeteria to find more flavorful vegetable-based dishes that are lower in calories than standard American fare.
  7. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with like-minded house mates to have a steady supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs all semester long and the chance to burn some calories working on the farm to pay for your share.
  8. Reach for some sugar-free frozen yogurt topped with berries for a sweet treat, instead of regular ice cream covered in candy bits.
  9. Have designated eating places on campus for eating (cafeteria, student lounge) and other places that are off-limits (library, lecture hall) so  you won’t snack mindlessly everywhere.
  10. Stay in motion when not studying by playing competitive Virtual Console games, joining an intramural team, trying out new equipment at the fitness center, taking a Zumba class, swimming laps at the pool.

An advisor for the Calorie Control Council, Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness.  Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

 

Added sugars can be replaced by low calorie sweeteners

Lowering Added Sugar in Your Meals

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

There’s so much in the news these days about the dangers of eating too much sugar I find myself tuning out the frightening warnings so I can enjoy my favorite gelato in peace. If you’ve stopped listening to those broadcasts, too, you’ll be happy to know you don’t have to stick to a sugar-free diet for it to be a healthy one.

What those reports about high added sugar diets fail to mention is that the people who consume them often have other dietary habits that contribute to poor health, like not eating enough fruits and vegetables or using too much salt. But research on people who eat well-balanced meals based on plant foods and healthy fats and oils, such as the Mediterranean Diet or DASH Eating Plan, shows us you can include some added sugar as part of a happy, healthy lifestyle!

That should be good news for anyone, like me, who doesn’t think they could survive on a diet with no added sugar. Instead, do as I do and strive to use less added sugar while choosing foods built on the principles of good nutrition. Let me explain how.

Naturally-Occurring Sugars Differ from Added Sugar 

Sugar is naturally found in fruits, vegetables, grains and milk products. It is what makes a fresh peach taste so sweet and why onions caramelize when heated. The foods these naturally occurring sugars are found in are an important source of key nutrients we need every day.

Many foods and beverages also have sugar and other sweeteners added to them to make them taste sweet or to perform other functions. Lowering the amount of these added sugars is the goal. The easiest way to know if added sugars are in the foods you buy is to check the ingredient list for any of these terms.

Recommendations for reducing the added sugars you consume start by knowing how much sugar you can eat. The amount can vary from 4 to 12 teaspoons of sugar a day for caloric intakes of 1000 to 2200 a day based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), although these recommendations may change with the release of the 2015 DGA. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of total calories, which would be 6 – 14 teaspoons a day for caloric intakes of 1000 – 2200/day.

Unfortunately, we cannot tell from reading a food label how much added sugar is in a serving of a food or beverage. That may change when food labels are redesigned, but until then, here are three simple tips that can help you follow a diet with less added sugar.

Tips to Finding Foods and Beverages with Less Added Sugar

  1. Ingredients are listed by weight with the one used in the greatest amount coming first, so if an added sugar is at the end of a long ingredients list on a nutrition panel it is most likely not present in a significant amount.
  2. Foods and drinks made with no- and low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, typically have less added sugar than their full sugar counterparts.
  3. The more types of sugar there are in the ingredient list the more likely their combined weight would appear higher on the list.

And if you’re confused by all the sugar claims you see on food labels, be sure to read my blog about how to read food labels.
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Moderation and good genes provide clues to longevity

Bacon, Soda, and Longevity – What’s the Connection?

This post was written as a guest blog for Americans for Food and Beverage Choice. You can read the original post here.

Did you see the headlines earlier this summer proclaiming the world’s oldest person eats bacon every day? The story caught my attention since bacon is one of those “guilty pleasure” foods we all enjoy, and we now have evidence that a 116 year old woman has been eating it every day!

There are many other things that may have contributed to this woman’s long life, such as her genetic heritage (her grandmother lived to be 117!). She also naps regularly, eats three meals a day and has a loving family.

As with most things in a long life, it’s never that simple – Spoiler alert: bacon is not the key to longevity!

The same holds true for headlines that say drinking soda can cause obesity, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease. What’s missing from those unfounded statements is any evidence from randomized clinical trials to demonstrate cause and effect.

Like longevity, the research on what does cause these illnesses reveals a strong genetic component. They are also influenced by numerous environmental factors and lifestyle behaviors. It’s just not a simple matter of sipping a sugar-sweetened beverage or not. In fact, our overall dietary patterns   matter much more than any single food we may eat.

I’m sure it will make many people happy to know they can still enjoy bacon and their favorite soft drink and live a long life. The lesson here is that it’s not the bacon that will guarantee you’ll reach your 100th birthday or the sweet drink that will keep you from getting there. Eating balanced meals and getting plenty of physical activity are habits that can add years to your life.

Keep that in mind the next time you see an inflammatory headline providing a quick fix for all of your dietary woes.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Sucralose and sugar alcohols are not the same

What are Sugar Alcohols and How are They Different from Sucralose?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Imagine seeing a listing for a “jumbo shrimp cocktail” on a menu for the first time. You might think it’s a huge drink made from shrimp based on the definition of each word. But anyone who has ever enjoyed this special appetizer of chilled shrimp and a horseradish-based sauce knows it’s not!

Similar confusion arises when people see the term “sugar alcohol” for the first time. Some think it’s a sweet alcoholic beverage but in fact it’s another sugar substitute.

Explaining the difference between two types of sugar substitutes – sugar alcohols and sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweeteners) – is what this blog is all about.

What is a Sugar Alcohol?

The best way to define a “sugar alcohol” is to tell you what it is not.

A sugar alcohol is not a sugar like sucrose or glucose and it is not alcohol like the type found in beer, wine and whiskey. Sugar alcohols include erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt, and mannitol, and they are carbohydrates with a structure that partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol. They are also known as polyols and occur naturally in many foods, including apples, watermelon and mushrooms.

Sugar alcohols, or polyols, taste sweet, but are not as sweet as sugar. They also have fewer calories per gram than sugar and are used in a variety of reduced-calorie and sugar-free foods. One of the best qualities of sugar alcohols is that they do not contribute to the formation of cavities so they are used in place of sugars in products like chewing gum, toothpaste and mouthwash.

How are Sugar Alcohols Different from Sucralose?

If you compare sugar alcohols to sucralose (SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener), you will find that there are many differences even though they are both classified as sugar substitutes. One difference between sucralose and sugar alcohols is that sucralose alone has no impact on blood glucose and insulin levels. Like other no-calorie tabletop sweeteners, the sucralose-based sweeteners you buy at the store contain small amounts of carbohydrate (less than 1 gram per serving) that provide needed volume and texture. These common food ingredients, which include maltodextrin and/or dextrose, add minimal carbohydrate and sugar per serving.

In contrast, sugar alcohols are considered a type of carbohydrate and sufficient intake could have an impact on blood glucose levels. Sugar alcohols also should be considered in carbohydrate counting. You can get good advice on sugar alcohols and how to factor them into the total carbohydrate content listed on food labels by reviewing Hope Warshaw’s blog Reading Nutrition Labels for Total Carbohydrate.

Another important distinction to note when comparing sucralose to sugar alcohols has to do with gastrointestinal disturbances. Research shows that sucralose has no side effects. Sugar alcohols are different. They have the potential to cause a laxative effect when consumed in excess and can be an unsuspected cause of cramps and gas for anyone consuming large amounts of products like sugar-free gum, candies or desserts made with polyols. That can be especially troublesome for children and people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

To see the differences between sugar alcohols and SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose), just use the handy chart below.

table_comparing_sucralose_to_sugar_alcohols

*Note: Other ingredients with which they are combined may have an effect.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.