Jackie Weighs In…

According a study just released by Purdue University, when test rats were given yogurt sweetened with no-calorie saccharin, they gained more weight then the rats that were given yogurt sweetened with plain sugar. But, what exactly does this mean? It proves what I have long known, that just because something says it’s sugar-free, doesn’t mean its additive free, and thus filled with unseen, and unhealthy calories.

To help us all know which sweeteners to use, avoid, and flat-out stay away from, Here’s a detailed account of the good sweetening options, the bad, and the just plain ugly.

The Good: Agave
Agave nectar is produced from the agave plant, which is native to Mexico. The nectar, or agave syrup, does not raise the blood sugar like other simple sugars, and is considered safe for diabetics. It’s sweeter than sugar, and more liquid than honey. The only problem – it’s more expensive than both combined, but worth the price.

The Bad: Artificial Sweeteners
There are many artificial sweeteners available, such as: sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (NutraSweet & Equal, a brand of artificial sweetener containing aspartame, dextrose and maltodextrin.) and saccharin.

Research has found that the sweetener, NutraSweet, is associated with unusually high rates of lymphomas, leukemias and other cancers in rats that had been given doses of it starting at what would be equivalent to four to five 20-ounce bottles of diet soda a day for a 150-pound person.

Saccharin is the oldest of the artificial sweeteners. It’s about 300 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) but has an unpleasant aftertaste. It has been extensively studied for carcinogenic properties, and while technically safe, is now used blended with other sweeteners.

Lastly, sucralose, sold under the trade name Splenda, is about 600 times sweeter than sucrose. Unlike aspartame, it is stable under heat and over a broad range of pH conditions. The newest kid on the block, it’s found in many, many items now sold in supermarkets.

The Ugly: High fructose corn syrup
Over consumption of sugars has been linked to adverse health effects, and most of these effects are similar for HFCS and sucrose. There is a correlation between the rise of obesity in the U.S. and the use of HFCS for sweetening beverages and foods. A study in mice suggests that fructose increases obesity. Large quantities of fructose stimulate the liver to produce unhealthy fats (triglycerides), and induces insulin resistance, which contributes to a host of illnesses. According to one study, the average American consumes nearly 70 pounds of HFCS per annum, marking HFCS as a major contributor to the rising rates of obesity in the last generation.

This new study finds that even a modest amount of caffeine could double a woman’s risk of miscarriage. Because doctors are split as to what this means to pregnant women, I recommend women try drinks with modest caffeine that still pack a lot of flavor like my Nutriccino drink, a favorite of many of my clients.

Make the Nutriccino now and here’s how:

6 oz. Italian roast coffee, brewed double-strength
1 tsp. Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. pectin
2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (find this is the liquor section of your supermarket)
3 tbsp. low fat sweetened condensed milk

1 cup ice cubes Yields: 2 (8 oz) servings. 105 calories – 51 mg caffeine

Jackie Keller, author of Amazon.com Top 100,Body After Baby: The Simple 30-Day Plan to Lose Your Baby Weight (Avery 2007), celebrity nutrition expert and wellness coach “weighs in” on a new study published in Monday’s issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.