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Jul. 26, 2006
Artificial Sweeteners--not worth the trade-offs in your food
This morning I was preparing for an interview with a reporter at the San Diego Union. In doing my research, I took a look at some of our competitors.

As I perused various ingredient lists, it became clear to me that maltitol syrup & sucralose are popular ways to artificially sweeten many products out there—not something you're gonna find in CLIF or LUNA.

Why do they add artificial sweetener you ask? Well, to lower the sugar grams in the bar and appear more nutritionally sound than, say, a LUNA Bar, which contains a mere 8-11 gram of real, all-natural sugar. Did you know an apple contains 14 grams of natural sugar? And one cup of yellow corn contains 6 grams. Sugar is not evil as long as it's used judicially and accompanies other beneficial nutrients.

The calorie trade-off of artificial sweeteners in a nutrition bar isn't even worth it. If you're going to give me artificial sweeteners, at least save me a significant amount of calories to put towards some other food that day!

While the consensus on sugar alcohols (maltitol) and artificial sweeteners (sucralose) is one of Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, it's my personal nutrition opinion that if you can spare a few extra grams and calories for the real stuff in its natural state (brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice, honey) you're much better off. Considering the small amount of natural sweetener in LUNA anyway, I would much rather have a nutrition bar that contains natural and organic ingredients than one with artificial sweeteners.

I do have artificial sweetener break-down when it comes to drinks. I admit that I love the taste of a good diet pop (it's pop where I come from) and I hate drinking calories (unless its wine). I try to curb the soda craving with carbonated water. This works most of the time, but once in while, I still need the diet pop.

Thank goodness for the new lightly-sweetened beverages like Smartwater; they add real sugar but much less than you would ever find in soda or fruit drinks—and they taste refreshing! Here I can take an extra 50 calories (compared to 150 in your average fruit juice sweetened drink).

But when it comes to food, artificial sweeteners will never measure up. Keep tryin' guys.
Posted by:
Tara, the RD
Food Matters

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