Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More on the best way enjoy sweetness in your diet

People often ask which sweetner is best to consume when the answer is that all are fine in moderation - too much of anything is bad. I think we know when we are consuming too much because we are often looking for permission or the maximum amount that won't hurt us rather than focusing on how to keep the sugar we consume to a minimum. 

Most sweetners are not markedly different in terms of their impact to your body. They are all rapidly converted to blood glucose. This process begins from the moment you put the food in your mouth. Think about how quickly you feel energy from eating a candy bar or sweetened beverage. The timeframe is roughly the same if you eat table sugar or agave - both are rapidly converted to blood glucose.

The real issue is that we consume too much. A general guideline is for your total sugar intake to be less than 10% of your daily calorie intake - 24 grams or no more than 6 teaspoons. Another way to think about your consumption is to keep sugars to 100 calories for women and 150 calories for men.

When you reduce your sugar intake very gradually, it's not as difficult as you would think because your taste buds will slowly become more sensitive to sweetness.  Fruits and veggies will begin to satisfy your sweet tooth most of the time.

What about artificial sweetners? If you just replace the sugar sweetness with sugar substitutes, would   your consumption would be excessive? Probably, especially if your all of the beverages you consume are artificially sweetened. The key is to think about how to increase your sensitivity to sweetness rather than numbing your taste buds with excessive sweetness. It's a different mindset, aiming to heighten your sensitivity to sweetness.

Challenge for the week: Check the nutrition label for the line that says sugars under carbohydrates. Try to purchase most grocery items with no more than 2-3 grams of sugar per serving. Also try to reduce the level of sugar you consume gradually until the sweetness in the veggies you eat is more pronounced.
For more on this topic, including a list of sweetners that will be counted on your nutrion facts label as sugar, see the following link

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About Me

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers, I'm back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so, there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. If they buy impulsively, that's what they will see more of. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make and stick to better food choices that you enjoy. You'll gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions for healthful food and food practices you can happily embody and embrace!