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Artificial Sweeteners

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Old 03-27-2010, 06:26 PM   #1
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There's so much out there on the good, the bad, and the ugly. I just need facts. Agave? Truvia? Real sugar? What should I use? Thanks!!
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Old 03-27-2010, 06:56 PM   #2
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The problem in getting "just the facts," about sweeteners, is that there is no consensus on what those facts are. Even among "the experts" there's as much disagreement as agreement.

I prefer Splenda, and aspartame as a distant second. I've researched them to my satisfaction, and I'm satisfied that they're safe for occasional use. I'm not suggesting that anyone make the same choice. Sorting the fact from the fiction isn't easy, and it doesn't result in a clear-cut answer for everybody.

My general outlook is that overall diet is more important than any specific choice. So overall, I'm eating more whole foods, and using all sweeteners much less than when I started. I always thought I ate "fairly healthy" even at my highest weight because I avoided fast food, and preferred "real" foods, and bought a lot of foods from farmers' markets, gourmet shops, and health food stores. I ate a lot of fruit (and took in a lot of calories from fruit. I ate a lot of vegetables, but added high fat or high salt seasonings and sauces. I ate whole grain breads and pastas, but added fatty accompaniments like butter, nut oils, freshly ground nut butters (cashew butter, my favorite), fatty pesto sauces...

Even eating healthy foods requires moderation. Too much of a good thing, is still too much.

My overall strategies with sweeteners is to try and use them more and more sparingly (I use less than I did before, and hopefully will use them less in the future). A bag of Splenda that used to last me a couple months, is now lasting nearly a year. Progress over perfection.
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:03 PM   #3
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I believe this is one of the topics that provokes the most heated debates and disputes on this forum, second only to a discussion of the soft drinks that these sweeteners are sometimes used in.

Around here, deciding on where you stand on two things -- 1) carbs & 2) artificial sweeteners & soft drinks -- is pretty much like choosing a religion.

There are all kinds of believers, and all kinds of arguments in support of all the positions.
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:05 PM   #4
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I second Kaplods. I keep Splenda in one of the glass shakers like they have for sugar in a diner and will use it to make up the lack of oil in a slaw for instance or in a quick pickle or a salad dressing. I went out with old girlfriends for lunch the other day to a local restaurant with great reviews. The food was tasty, but I realized that it was the high levels of sugar- the glazes and dressings that accented the food were all sweet. I try more and more to balance the salty, sweet, and sour. I did buy a stevia plant just for fun and will experiment with it. Oh- I do not bake with it, in fact I only bake fore company now and will have a small piece but the rest goes home with guests or given away. Sort of a quality over quantity situation.
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:53 PM   #5
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Well thank you all so much for your replies! It's definitely difficult to separate fact from fiction, so I'm glad to have more input. I try not to use to much of anything, but when I do, I'd like to make the better choice . As far as carbs, I wouldn't make it without them--I have tried and failed many times. I go by calories, and it's working for me, but I know everyone is totally different. I also go by inches rather than pounds, and I exercise six times a week on good weeks, four on "bad" weeks--which are still good for me because I never used to do any physical activity beyond the norm of everyday living. Of course, I'm new here, still learning, and again, I really appreciate the replies!
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Old 03-27-2010, 09:01 PM   #6
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By the way, if anyone else has anything to add I'm certainly open to all information! Thanks!
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:45 PM   #7
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Just to give a different answer...I try to stay away from artificial sweeteners, just as I try to stay away from other artificial foods. So, I favor raw honey, real maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, and agave nectar. As the others have said, limited quantity is definitely the key in the area of sweet stuff. The good news is that the more I limit the quantity, the less sweetener is required to taste sweet on my palate.
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:40 AM   #8
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I'm not a big fan of sweets (I'll binge on bread all day long though!), but I keep agave and a small bag of Splenda at home. DH occasionally wants his tea sweet, and I do bake for his work and family functions. I also have some stevia in packets from when my MIL came over. I used to use the pink packets to sweeten stuff, but after going so long without, I find it tastes funny. I try my hardest to consume whole foods, but if I occasionally have some Splenda, I don't think it's going to kill me. However, if I was constantly using it, I would probably look at alternatives.
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Old 03-28-2010, 02:58 PM   #9
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I barely eat any actual sweets or desserts, but I do sweeten my daily coffee, and occasionally sweeten my tea as well. Bacilli, I agree about the bread thing for sure!
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Old 03-28-2010, 04:20 PM   #10
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And then there's me. UGH! I have always been a huge coffee drinker, and put lots of milk and sugar in it :-( In my case, I have cut pretty much all sugar that isn't contained in a fruit or a vegetable, except an occasional bit of honey if a recipe calls for it. However, I find that I currently have no desire to quit drinking coffee, so I use splenda instead of sugar. I drink iced tea and whether or not I use splenda depends on the flavor of the tea.

I decided that it is preferable for me at this time to use splenda than sugar, just from a calorie standpoint. One problem area at a time. I don't think the splenda is good for me, just better than the weight from too much sugar.

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Old 03-30-2010, 02:47 PM   #11
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I had been using Splenda in my iced tea. But now I'm having second thought, and use a little agave nectar.

Just this morning, I heard that even agave nectar isn't all it's cracked up to be. Supposedly, eventhough it's labeled "raw" they cook it to 140 degrees. This breaks down the natural sweetener into straight fructose -- no longer a whole food.

That isn't a HUGE deal to me, but it's still disappointing.

Coffee is the true test for any sweetener for me. I found that Splenda has a very chemical taste to it when I put it in coffee. So I went back to sugar.

I think I'm going to try and stick to just honey and turbinado sugar, even though honey at least, does alter the flavor of whatever you put it in.

I haven't given molassas a try yet, but it's on the list.
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Old 04-10-2010, 12:58 PM   #12
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I bought some amber agave--made by NOW and it gives me gas everytime I use it--flats to be exact, not pain, just annoying loud flats. Is this common from agave? I can't image Agave would be so popular if this is normal but then again Splenda and alcohol syrups give me gas also and they are popular. Why does all the good sweetners give me gas? The only sweetner I can use that doesn't cause gas is Stevia, and only if it's 100% pure Stevia with no additives, which is hard to find! i also found that from NOW, whereas so many stevia manufaturers are all adding maltodextrin, malitol, other gassy sweetners and fiber which give me gas. Any feeback? Thanks!
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Old 07-27-2010, 10:21 PM   #13
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I heard agave has the same effect on your blood sugar as high fructose corn syrup so I try to stay away and splenda can cause cancer I try to stick to stevia or truvia and I think zylitol is ok but it's always changing just saying from what I read. I only have stevia at the moment.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:59 PM   #14
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If you train your palate to not need sweetners, you discover that many foods are in fact naturally sweet already. Even "bland" things like tomatoes or whole wheat bread, have a slight sweetness.

I now find that tea is undrinkable at fast food places. It is so sweet here in the south, that I call it hummingbird food! I can't drink sodas straight anymore (if I'm given a free one with a sandwich.) I drink maybe half a can with the sandwich ... and then sip the rest for an hour, after lunch. Coffee, I now drink straight. Maybe add a little milk sometimes, that's it.

I can actually say that I don't like MegaCorp processed pastries like pop tarts any more. Way. Too.. Sweet...
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:21 PM   #15
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Search for "Just Like Sugar" on google, I find it to be a fabulous product.
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