New Spins on Sugar

Truvia, the much-hyped natural, no-calorie sweetener, is joining the array of sugar substitutes on supermarket shelves this fall. Here’s the scoop on this and other options to stir into your coffee.  

Type: Natural sweeteners – Truvia is a granular substance made from the stevia plant; agave syrup comes from the agave plant.

Details: Unlike natural sugar, Truvia has no calories, but some say the taste is too licorice-like. Agave has 20 calories per teaspoon but sweetens more effectively than sugar, so you use less.

Pros and Cons: They’re an option for those who want to avoid artificial ingredients while watching their weight. Be aware that the body expects calories to follow sweetness, so (as with all sweeteners) you may keep craving more.

Type: Artificial sweeteners – Sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Equal), and saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low) are made of various chemicals that simulate the sweetness of sugar.

Details: All are essentially calorie-free. Some people are concerned about possible associations with cancer. However, the National Cancer Institute says there’s no clear evidence of a link.

Pros and Cons: They’re generally considered safe for healthy people. But a recent study shows diet soda drinkers tend to gain weight, not lose it. So if you have concerns about these sweeteners anyway, avoid them.

Type: Sugars – Sucrose and fructose are carbohydrates that come from the sugarcane plant as well as from fruits, maple syrup, and corn syrup.

Details: Keep your intake to under 40 grams (about 10 teaspoons) of sugar a day. That’s about one can of Coke. Remember that any unburned amount will turn to fat, and consistently high amounts may lead to insulin resistance.

Pros and Cons: Anyone with health problems like obesity or prediabetes should cut down on sugar. Stick with whole fruits, and try to wean yourself off sweet junk foods.

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