Nutrition education is taught at home, not through soda taxes

Sweet Childhood Memories

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

While refilling the sugar bowl after a weekend visit from a friend, who likes her coffee sweet, I found myself wondering how this ingredient found in nearly every pantry in the world has become so vilified. That wasn’t always the case.

Sugar was a big part of my diet when I was growing up. My mother took pride in her homemade pies, beautifully decorated birthday cakes, and the 30 different varieties of Christmas cookies she baked every year for family and friends. In the summer she made delicious jars of jams and preserves that my sisters and I spread on her freshly baked bread as an after school snack. And every night after dinner we had dessert, even if it was just a dish of pudding. All that cooking and baking used a lot of sugar!

If I tell someone these memories of my childhood diet they often remark how lucky I was. Looking back I have to agree— there was no guilt or shame in enjoying all the sweet treats my mother prepared. But that’s not the only thing that was different.

My friends and I were much more active than children are today. We walked or rode our bikes to school every day and any place we wanted to go when not in school. We also had far less screen time with just one TV in the house and only 5 channels to watch. And our nutrition education started early, at home, by eating our meals together and learning to how to cook.  .

Heaping all of the blame for our rising rates of obesity on added sugar consumption just doesn’t make sense. Many other changes in our way of life over the past 50 years have also contributed to the problem, so taxing and restricting access to sweetened drinks is not a solution. I can’t even imagine how my mother would have reacted if a law was passed limiting the amount of sugar she could buy!  It’s time to start taking personal responsibility for our health, starting with making better food choices and being more active. Thankfully, we don’t need any new laws to do that.

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.

 

Avoiding sugar is not the key to weight control

Avoiding Excess Calories

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

I heard a funny joke the other day about a woman who couldn’t double the recipe for her favorite chocolate chip cookies because her oven didn’t go up to 700 degrees. Anyone who likes to cook knows you don’t have to double the oven temperature to make more cookies, just the ingredients, but it got me thinking about some of the other “kitchen math” that keeps people from eating well.

Counting calories is by far the toughest nutrition problem most people have to solve each day. Knowing how many calories we consume is one half of the energy balance equation (more math!) Knowing how much energy we expend in physical activity is the other half. The calories from all foods and beverages contribute equally to the intake side of the equation. When we consume more calories than we expend we can gain weight. Increasing our level of activity is one way to off-set those extra calories. Consuming fewer calories is another. Keeping both sides in balance is the goal for weight maintenance. If you’re tuned in to popular media you might think sugar-sweetened drinks are responsible for obesity, but that simply isn’t true.

All calories count – which is why I shake my head in disbelief at those who single out just one caloric source as the cause for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Proponents of taxes on soda, warnings on sugar-sweetened beverages, and more red tape for grocery stores have got it wrong. As a registered dietitian, I’m convinced that consuming excess calories is the problem and unfortunately, there is no tax that will fix that.

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.

Blends made with sucralose p and sugar make baking easy

Sugar Substitutes for Baking: SPLENDA® Sugar Blends

This post was written as a guest blog for 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.

Even though I am a big proponent of low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, to lower the calories from sugar in my diet, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-sugar. Far from it! I am reminded of this whenever I’m preparing those less-added-sugar desserts that just wouldn’t turn out right if they didn’t have some sugar in them.

Thankfully, there is a way to get the unique cooking properties of sugar with fewer calories and still get the results you’d expect from full sugar.

Less Added Sugar vs No Sugar

SPLENDA® Sugar Blend and Brown Sugar Blend can help in preparing lower added sugar versions of your favorite recipes. Each is a mix of sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in all SPLENDA® Sweeteners) and pure sugar – either white or brown sugar. Baked goods made with them achieve the volume, moistness and browning you want, but with less sugar.

Since SPLENDA® Sugar Blends get half their sweetness from sucralose, you don’t have to use as much to get the sweet taste you want. That’s how they help you cut sugar calories. For most recipes, you simply replace the full amount of sugar called for with half as much SPLENDA® Sugar Blend orSPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend. Every cup of sugar replaced with half a cup of SPLENDA® Sugar Blend saves you 387 calories and 100 grams of carbohydrate!

This product is different from SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated, which offers even more calorie savings. SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener works best in recipes where sugar is used for sweetness rather than functionality, and can be used in many baked goods with no, or only minor, modifications. A big advantage to using SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated is that you can make one-to-one measurements of it to replace the sugar in a recipe. A cup of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated has the same sweetening power as a cup of sugar, but with 678 fewer calories.

You can find recipes like these Choco-Chip Cookies that combine SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated with brown sugar.

When Every Calorie Counts

It’s great to know we can cook and bake with sugar substitutes and still enjoy the foods we love, but with fewer calories from sugar. It’s also important to know that the calories we save using sugar substitutes like SPLENDA® Sweeteners have nothing to do with all of the other ingredients in our recipes. That means the calories in the flour, butter, eggs and chocolate chips in my favorite cookie recipe don’t disappear when I use SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend in place of brown sugar – but I do appreciate the reduction. You can read more about that in my earlier blog, Where is the Hidden Sugar in Your Meals? How to Identify Hidden Calorie Culprits.

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.

For more information about cooking and baking with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, visit the Cooking & Baking section of this blog.

 

Sugar substitutes help make managing diabetes a little easier

The Sweet Truth about Artificial Sweeteners and Diabetes

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com on November 6,, 2014. 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.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about diabetes? If you thought of sugar, you’re not alone. The connection between diabetes and excess sugar in the urine was first made by a Greek physician over 2000 years ago. Back when I was studying the disease in college, patients were still expected to test the sugar content of their urine several times a day to see if they were in good control.

We have learned much more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of diabetes in the past 200 years, but its connection to sugar remains strong.

In recognition of American Diabetes Month, I’d like to share the results of some new research on the role of sugar and artificial sweeteners (sugar substitutes) in diabetes, to bring you up to date.

Two Types of Diabetes

There are two classifications of diabetes, commonly known as type 1 and type 2. Only 5 percent of people who have diabetes have type 1, and most are diagnosed when they are children or young adults. Their bodies do not produce the insulin they need to convert sugar and starches into energy, so they must take insulin by injection or other means.

People with type 2 diabetes experience high blood glucose (sugar) levels because they don’t make enough insulin or their body does not use it properly. Being overweight, inactive, and having high blood pressure are some of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. You may want to take this brief “Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test” offered online for free by the American Diabetes Association.

A combination of lifestyle changes and medications can help keep blood sugar levels within normal limits in people with diabetes.

The Role of Diet in Diabetes

The treatment of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes includes consuming a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight. This can be accomplished by following the same eating patterns recommended for us all in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (pdf). People with diabetes do not have to buy special foods or have different foods prepared for them if the meals the rest of their family is eating are well balanced, but need to be more careful managing their carbohydrate intake.

The key to managing one’s weight is to manage caloric intake. Since sugar has calories, the amount eaten must be controlled just like any other source of calories. But since most people really like sweet-tasting foods and beverages made with sugar, it’s easy to consume too much of them. That why using low calorie sweeteners, such as SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, can be a big help. They let you enjoy the great sugar-like taste, but with few or no calories added.

In fact, numerous studies have found that the use of no-calorie sweeteners (like sucralose), can help people with diabetes in several ways. Some of the benefits of low calorie sweeteners are that they:

  • Can aid in weight loss and maintenance when used in place of sugar
  • Can help limit total carbohydrates in the diet to help regulate blood glucose levels and insulin requirements
  • Can help make reduced calorie and/or carbohydrate diets more palatable which may improve compliance
  • Can help satisfy sweet cravings without increasing hunger or appetite
  • Have no effect on gastric emptying or intestinal sweet receptors
  • Do not contribute to dental caries

Having counseled hundreds of people in my career who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I always felt it was a shame they didn’t know about the healthy diet and lifestyle I was recommending to them before they got the disease, because if they had it’s possible that they could have prevented it. So to commemorate American Diabetes Month, I’d like to recommend to everyone who does not have diabetes to adopt this way of life to help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

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:

Polonsky KS. The Past 200 Years in Diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2012;367:1332-1340

Jophnson CA, Stevens B, Foreyt J. The Role of Low-calorie Sweeteners in Diabetes. US Endocr.2013;9(1):13-15

Anderson GH, Foreyt J, Sigman-Grant M, Allison DB. The use of low-calorie sweeteners by adults: impact on weight management. J Nutr.2012;142:1163S–1169S

Phelan S, Lang W, Jordan D, Wing RR. Use of artificial sweeteners and fat-modified foods in weight loss maintainers and always-normal weight individuals, Int J Obes.(Lond).2009;33(10):1183–1190

Peters JC, Wyatt HR, Foster GD, Pan Z, Wojtanowski A, Vander Veur SS, Herring SJ, Brill C, Hill JO. The Effects of Water and Non-Nutritive Sweetened Beverages on Weight Loss During a 12-week Weight Loss Treatment Program. Obesity. June 2014;22(6):1415-1421

Piernas C, Tate DF, Wang X, Popkin BM. Does diet-beverage intake affect dietary consumption patterns? Results from the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. March 2013;97(3):604-61

Konstantina Argyri, Alexios Sotiropoulos, Eirini Psarou, Athanasia Papazafiropoulou, Antonios Zampelas, Maria Kapsokefalou. Dessert Formulation Using Sucralose and Dextrin Affects Favorably Postprandial Response to Glucose, Insulin, and C-Peptide in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Rev Diabet Stud. 2013; 10(1):39-48

Wu T, Bound MJ, Standfield SD, Bellon M, Young RL, Jones KL, Horowitz M, Rayner CK. Artificial sweeteners have no effect on gastric emptying, glucagon-like peptide-1, or glycemia after oral glucose in healthy humans. Diab Care.2013;36:e202-e203

Espinosa I, Fogelfeld L. Tagatose: from a sweetener to a new diabetic medication?Expert Opin Investig Drugs.2010;19(2):285–294.

 

Why Do We Have Low-Calorie Sweeteners?

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

If you’ve ever wondered why there are so many low-calorie sweeteners to choose from, it helps to first know a little bit about the history of the caloric sweeteners they can be used to replace. It all begins with our innate preference for a sweet taste. This evolutionary trait is linked to the natural sweetness of breast milk, which must fuel our rapid growth during the first year of life.

SWEET HISTORY

The only way our earliest ancestors got to taste something sweet once they were weaned was if they happened to find a plant while foraging with sweet leaves, stem, bark, roots or fruit. Since those parts could also be toxic, the pursuit of something sweet required a fast learning curve. The same can be said for stealing honey from a bee hive to satisfy a sweet tooth! People living in New Guinea over 8,000 years ago are credited with being the first to chew wild sugar cane for its sweet taste. It was later discovered that sweet syrup could be made by boiling the canes, and this turned into a sweet powder when dried. The rest, as they say, is history. The trading of sugar quickly expanded across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, finally making its way to the New World in 1493 when Christopher Columbus arrived with sugar cane seeds.

SUGAR SUBSTITUTES, THE EARLY YEARS

The growing global demand for sugar in the 20th Century combined with the high cost to produce and transport it motivated food scientists to look for something that could be used in its place. Several compounds were discovered that were many times sweeter than sugar so they weren’t readily accepted as a substitute. It wasn’t until sugar was rationed during both World Wars that sales of these alternative sweeteners took off to satisfy our craving for something sweet when no sugar could be had.

SUGAR SUBSTITUTES, THE MODERN ERA

The unprecedented expansion in food production in the United States following World War II gave us an abundant and affordable food supply that contributed to the first signs of excess weight gain among Americans in the 1950s. This, in turn, helped launch the popular Weight Watchers® program in 1960s and increase the demand for more no- and low-calorie sweeteners by people trying to manage their weight.

WHAT’S AVAILABLE

LCS table

The no- and low-calorie sweeteners currently approved for use in U.S. foods and beverages can be found in the table above. Dozens more are in development to help meet the growing desire for alternatives to sugar that have fewer calories and are safe for everyone in the family — and that pretty much sums up why we have low-calorie sweeteners!

Have any questions? Ask them in the comments!

Notes:

1. Sweet compounds were isolated
2. Approved as a dietary supplement in 1995, then available as a food ingredient in 2008
3. Approved as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), so does not require FDA approval as a food additive
4. Discovery of the sweet component in the fruit

Swap sugar for Splenda to reduce calories and weight

Cutting Calories Every Day with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products

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

When I was a little girl I always stopped to pick up a penny in the street if I saw one. Back then it bought me a piece of bubble gum. If I saved ten of those pennies I could buy a comic book. Eventually I was collecting the pennies I found in a jar with all my other loose change to help fund more expensive things, like my college tuition. I still pick up pennies in the street because I know they can add up.

Reducing the added sugar in my diet one teaspoon at a time works on the same principle. Every teaspoon of sugar I don’t eat by using a low-calorie sweetener like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener can add up to cups of sugar over time. And, for me, that adds up to thousands of saved calories.

It’s easy to replace sugar with a low-calorie sweetener in your morning coffee and to order a diet soda with lunch to save some calories. Using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products to make your favorite dessert recipes is another simple way to enjoy something sweet without all the calories of sugar. Speaking of desserts, here’s a great one to share with your friends and guests on the Fourth of July, especially since fresh berries are in season.

Many ideas for recipes using SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener have been shared in other blogs on SPLENDA LIVING™. But are you taking advantage of all the less obvious ways you can save a few teaspoons of added sugar in your meals? Let me show you how.

Some places to be aware of added sugars are in salad dressings and sauces. For example, if you enjoy Cucumber–Onion Salad as much as I do (especially when cucumbers are plentiful in my garden), using this recipe can save you calories from added sugar. Another favorite of mine is the Asian-infused dressing on this Layered Chicken Salad that helps make this dish high in flavor. And if you like to put a sweet and tangy glaze on your baked ham, this Rosemary-Mustard Glazed Ham does just that, with less added sugar. Remember, every ½ cup of sugar you omit from a recipe removes nearly 400 calories!

The other part of the menu where I always find sugar that can be replaced with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products is in side dishes. Two of my favorites are this Noodle Kugel, which uses SPLENDA® Sugar Blend with only half the calories of full sugar, and Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes, where either SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, 1 Gram of Fiber or SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener can be used. The kugel incorporates several lower fat ingredients as well. Once you’ve tried it I’m sure you won’t want to wait for a special occasion to serve it again!

Another way to eliminate some unwanted sugar from your meals is by using a low-calorie sweetener in your home-made tomato-based sauces. Some commercial sauces rely on sugar or other caloric sweeteners, but you can use SPLENDA® Sweeteners. This Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bowl uses ¼ cup of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated for a pasta sauce that anyone would be proud to serve.

For more ideas on how to make SPLENDA® Sweeteners part of your everyday cooking, visit Splenda® Recipes – and be sure to share your own special creations with me here!

sugar rationing won't reduce obesity rates

Sugar Rationing Helped Us Win the War!

TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN FOODS ARE RATIONED

While many Americans view Cinco de Mayo as a day to feast on nachos, tacos and burritos, another food is closely tied to this date that has nothing to do with the 1862 Mexican victory at the Battle of Pueblo. Wartime sugar rationing began in the U.S. on May 5, 1942.

Sugar bowls quickly disappeared from restaurant tables as honest Americans struggled to get by on the half pound of sugar per person per week their “sugar stamps” allowed them to purchase. This was about half their usual pre-war intake.

We all know that since the end of World War II sugar consumption has escalated well beyond those 52 pounds a year our forefathers enjoyed before it started. We also know that rates of obesity have increased during that same time period. Due to this correlation, some people believe sugar is uniquely responsible for obesity. Of course, many other things about our way of life have also changed over the last 5 decades that make it easy to gain weight, but more importantly, correlation ≠ cause.

As I considered the implications of the rationing that began on this day 80 years ago, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if we rationed sugar again? Would it help the 66 percent of Americans who are overweight or obese shed some of their excess pounds? Would it reverse the frightening increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes afflicting children? Would it make us choose healthier foods to replace the sweet desserts and drinks we now enjoy?

My guess is it would not.

Based on my 35+ years providing diet therapy and nutrition education to clients and consumers, I do not believe rationing sugar, or even removing it from the food supply, would solve our health and weight-related problems. Here’s why.

  • Prohibiting a food does not reduce our desire for it. The reason the foods and drinks eaten only on holidays take on such importance to us is that they are not served at any other time of the year. They become more highly valued as a result.
  • The demand for something sweet will be met by something else. It could be anything from an exotic fruit nectar to a chemical spray for the tongue that makes sour foods taste sweet, but the void will be filled. What we have no way of knowing is whether the alternative will be better than what we gave up.
  • Millions of people who do not abuse sugar are obese. Removing this one ingredient from the food supply will not help them or the millions yet to be born who will need a multi-faceted strategy to deal with this multi-causal problem.

So when I read about efforts to tax sugar-sweetened drinks, or limit their serving sizes, or put warning labels on them, I wonder, “What will policy-makers try next when they realize restricting sugar didn’t change anything?” Maybe they’ll borrow another idea from the war years and ration gasoline – at least that would help us all get more exercise!

Disclosure: I am a consultant to The Coca-Cola Company and the Calorie Control Council, but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Low calorie sweeteners can help you enjoy the sweet life and control your cravings

Low-Calorie Sweeteners and Sweet Cravings

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

LEARN HOW TO SATISFY YOUR SWEET CRAVINGS WITH LOW CALORIE SWEETENERS

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.

Have you ever wished we lived in a world where you could eat whatever you wanted and not have to worry about gaining weight or getting sick? If you have, you’re not alone. Sadly, until that distant planet is discovered we have to pay attention to what and how much we eat to stay healthy here on earth.

But that doesn’t mean we can never have the foods we crave. I know I wouldn’t want to live in a world where I couldn’t enjoy a warm chocolate chip cookie once in a while.

PLEASE PASS THE CHOCOLATE

Anyone who has had an intense desire to eat a certain food has experienced a food craving. What separates a craving from hunger is the desire for a very specific food, while almost any food can satisfy hunger.

If this sounds familiar to you, then you can count yourself among the 97% of us who have had food cravings. Studies show women report more of them than men, and the frequency, strength and types of foods women crave are different, too. But the one food more of us crave than any other is chocolate!

ICE CREAM AND BOO BOOS

As common as they are, the reasons behind food cravings are poorly understood. One popular theory is that we learn to associate certain foods with positive feelings early in life, such as getting an ice cream cone after we skin our knee.

Eating ice cream after a fall probably did help us forget about our boo-boos when we were children. Unfortunately, the more the connection was reinforced between special foods and feeling better, the harder it became to break. That is why so many adults still deal with all types of discomfort, both physical and emotional, by eating foods they crave.

SATISFYING OUR SWEET TOOTH WITH SPLENDA® SWEETENER

Other theories about what trigger food cravings include meal monotony, rigid food restrictions and nutritional imbalances. Is it any wonder why weight loss diets are so hard to stick to? They’re often boring, unpalatable and incomplete, so our food cravings get the best of us.

If your food cravings lead you to something sweet, there is a way to satisfy that desire and still keep your calories under control. Using a no cal sweetener, such as SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, in place of sugar lets us have the sweet taste we want without all the calories.

And despite what you may have read somewhere on the Internet, there is nothing in SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, or any other low calorie sweetener, that will increase or extend our desire for sweets. I know there have been some of contradictory studies on this topic covered in the media, which can be confusing. However, the scientific evidence points in the opposite direction by showing that low cal sweeteners do not stimulate appetite or food intake and don’t cause weight gain. One of their biggest advantages is how they can help reduce caloric intake and consequently body weight.

Of course, we still have to pay attention to what triggers our food cravings and how we deal with them, but we don’t have to completely avoid all the foods we crave. Sometimes we may just need to take a smaller portion and savor every bite to feel satisfied.

MAKING EVERY DAY A LITTLE SWEETER

To help keep my sweet tooth in check I start my day with a delicious breakfast parfait made by sprinkling SPLENDA® Sweetener on some high-fiber cereal and plain yogurt layered with fresh berries. Later in the day I whirl SPLENDA® into a frothy iced latte made with fat free milk for the perfect afternoon pick-me up. And when I really want to have a chocolate chip cookie, I know I can take one from my freezer, made using a SPLENDA® recipe, and warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave oven for a sweet treat.

I am a firm believer in practicing what I preach. That’s why I am confident in providing this sensible nutrition advice: By including foods and beverages made with low calorie sweeteners in our daily diets we can enjoy the sweet taste we love, but with fewer calories. It’s almost like living in a perfect world!

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.

Dried Fruit Can Help Meet Daily Fruit Requirements

Getting More Fruit in Your Diet is Easy With Dried Fruit

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

QUICK Q/A ON DRIED FRUIT SHOWS HOW EASY IT IS TO GET RECOMMENDED SERVINGS OF FRUIT ALL YEAR ROUND

Dried fruit is a nutritious, delicious and affordable way to meet the dietary guideline to consume 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit each day. It can also help expand the variety in the diet when fresh fruit is not available. And it may even provide more nutritional benefits than the fresh fruit in your market if that has traveled from other continents to provide varieties that are not in season anywhere close to your home.

To explain why dried fruit may be a good option to meeting your daily fruit requirement this winter here’s aQuick Q/A on Dried Fruit:

What happens when fruit is dried?

Drying, or dehydrating, involves removing 82%-97% of the water, depending on the type of fruit.

How is it done?

Dehydrating can be done naturally by the sun or by using dehydrators. It takes about 3 days in 100° F temperatures to dry fruit in the sun or 10-20 hours at 120-140° F in an electric dehydrator.

Is anything added to dried fruit?

Sulfur dioxide may be added to block browning reactions that darken the color of the fruit. Check the food label if you are allergic to this safe preservative.

Sugar is added to some fruits before or after drying to sweeten them, such as cranberries, blueberries, cherries, mangoes and strawberries. Again, check the label.

Is dried fruit higher in calories?

Calories are not affected by drying a piece of fruit, but the calories are higher in an equal volume of dried fruit compared to fresh. A grape has 4 calories whether eaten fresh or as a raisin, however about 32 seedless grapes fit into a cup while 120 raisins can fit into that same cup.

Is dried fruit as nutritious as fresh?

  • Some heat-sensitive vitamins, such as Vitamin C, can be affected by the high temperatures used to dry fruit. Those losses are no more significant than what can occur when fresh fruit is harvested early to be transported long distances and stored for extended periods of time before consumption.
  • Dried fruits are an important source of antioxidants and other naturally occurring phytonutrients, such as flavanols and anthocyanins, which have many health benefits.
  • Fiber content of fruit is not affected by dehydrating.
  • Like fresh fruit, dried fruit contains no cholesterol and practically no fat and has very low sodiumcontent.

Why is dried fruit so sweet?

  • The sweeter taste of dried fruit is due to the concentration of the natural sugars in it once the moisture has been removed.
  • Fruit that is going to be dried is allowed to fully ripen before it’s harvested, which enhances the naturalsweetness.

Can people with diabetes eat dried fruit?

Any form of fruit can be used by people with diabetes, whether fresh, frozen, canned, dried or as juice. It’s the serving size and number of servings in your meal plan that matters.

What advantages are there to including dried fruits in my diet?

  • Dried fruits have a long shelf life since drying inhibits bacterial growth.
  • Long shelf life makes dried fruit price-stable and available year round.
  • It’s easy to use dried fruit since they don’t require peeling, seeding or other preparation.
  • Dried fruit is convenient to take with you when traveling away from home.
): Sugar and sweeteners can be part of healthy diet

Sugar or Sweetener – Which is Best?

Both sugar and artificial sweeteners can have a place in a healthy diet

They’re the foods and beverages we love to hate – anything that tastes sweet. We love them because they satisfy one of our most primal appetites. We hate them because it’s so easy to consume too much of them, or to eat and drink sweet tasting things instead of the other less tasty stuff.

But is that really a sugar/sweetener problem or one of portion control? Take a look at my post on portion control and evidence below, then decide.

Sugar is Natural

The Food and Drug Administration allows food manufacturers to describe foods as natural if they do not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. Both sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) meet those criteria. The both come from plants and undergo less processing than what it takes to turn milk into cheese.

Once sugar, HFCS or a naturally sweet piece of fruit is eaten, they are broken down into the exact same simple sugars. Your body cannot tell where they came from and uses them all in the same way. And although fruit does have other nutrients in it along with the sugar it contains, the sugar is there for a reason. It helped us select the ripest, and consequently, most nutritious fruits when we were foraging for our food, and that contributed to our evolutionary success as a species.

Flash forward to the 21st Century and sugar is no longer hard to come by or only found in fruit. That makes it easy for some people eat too much of it, but that does not mean sugar or HFCS is bad for us. Too much is not good, and that’s true about everything as I wrote in my blog, There are No junk Foods.

And what about the alternative to sugar and HFCS, artificial sweeteners?

Sweeteners Are Safe

Low and no calorie sugar substitutes have been available for over 50 years. Saccharin was the first, and each new sweetener discovered since then has undergone more extensive study than any other additive in the food supply.

Still, the suspicions linger on.

The weight of the research sides with the sweeteners. Not only is there no scientific evidence that they are harmful or increase our appetite, they can actually play a role in weight and blood glucose control when used as part of an energy balanced diet. Of course, some people use a lot of them who do not have balanced diets, but are the sweeteners to blame?

According to international experts, the answer is no. The safety of the low and no calorie sweeteners on the market today has been endorsed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the World Health Organization, the Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union and the regulatory agencies for more than 100 countries. Could they all be wrong?

Position Statements in support of these sweeteners have also been issued by groups including the American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, American Dietetic Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Cancer Society to name a few. Are they all misleading the public?

You decide. Are sugars and sweeteners the problem, or do some people have a problem with them?