August 2012 Smarty-Pants Results

I’m gonna learn you somethin’ about suga’ today. I hope you’re ready!


Alternative Sweeteners

  • Aspartame aka Equal or NutraSweet is considered safe for everyone except those with PKU…but it may increase the risk of cancer.
  • Acesulfame potassium aka Acesulfame-K. Rat studies suggest that the additive might cause cancer AND large doses of acetoacetamide (one of the breakdown products) have been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs.
  • Neotame is chemically similar to aspartame but is much sweeter and more stable but rarely used.
  • Saccharin aka Sweet N’ Low. Excessive consumption has been linked to certain types of cancer in lab animals.
  • Sucralose aka Splenda is made from sugar rinsed with chlorine. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.
  • Xylose is a sugar but it is not metabolised by humans. It is completely absorbed and secreted from the kidneys.
  • Maltitol (not in the quiz list), mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol are sugar alcohols, also called a polyols. These are not as sweet as sugar, not absorbed well by the body (which means they provide only half as many calories by weight and do not cause blood-sugar to jump), and do not promote tooth decay. However, large amounts may have a laxative effect and can even cause diarrhea. Eek!
  • Stevia (also not in the quiz list) aka rebaudioside A, Rebiana, Truvia, or PureVia is derived from a plant. It is relatively new on the market in the US but has not been approved as a food ingredient in Canada or the EU because little research has been done on its safety.

Sugar aka…

Sugar goes by many names in an attempt to make foods sound healthier. But guess what?

  • Sucrose (ordinary table sugar) occurs naturally in fruit, sugar cane, and sugar beets (hence evaporated cane juice and beet sugar).
  • There’s essentially no nutritional difference between sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Fruit juice concentrate is a shiny way of saying sugar. If you squeeze fruit into juice and then evaporate the water, you are left with sugar.
  • Honey, when added to foods as a sweetener, represents empty calories and contributes to tooth decay.

What You Need to Know

Sugar and other refined sweeteners make up 16 % of the average diet, but provide no vitamins, minerals, or protein (hence the term empty calories). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommend that people consume no more than about 3-8% of calories in the form of refined sugars so the less added sugar you consumes the better.

There are a lot of names for sugar. Instead of memorizing them all, your best bet is to look at the grams of Sugars on the Nutrition Facts panel and compare between products (this is made easier with Fooducate).

In my dreams, Added Sugars are listed on the Nutrition Facts panel.

Using small amounts of alternative sweeteners is probably safe, but it’s best to consume them in moderation. In other words, don’t seek out foods with these ingredients.

And if you have diabetes and your doctor told you not to use these instead of sugar, for the love of kittens, please see a Registered Dietitian.


So….the correct answers are: 1, 2, 3, 46, 50, 52, 55, 60, and 61.

August’s official Smarty-Pants is Jamie R!

Woot Woot! Congratulations!

You should probably make that your facebook status.

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1 Comment

  1. Is Brown Rice Syrup Better than Sugar? Part 1 « ProjectEatMe

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