by Danielle Angel
With an often hectic schedule, fast food seems like an easy way to eat on the go. Even when cooking at home, the ingredients used may be just as unhealthy. The sugars in home cooking can lead to diabetes and high blood pressure. Not all sugar is white and granular – they are often called corn syrup, glucose, maltose, lactose and sucrose. Another kind of sugar forgotten is fructose, which is a natural sugar found in all fruit. Maple syrup and honey are also natural sugars and that have high calorie content.
One possibility in making home cooking healthier is the use of sugar alternatives. Substituted in traditional recipes, these alternatives promise to be unrecognizable to the palate but lower the calories significantly. Low carbohydrate diets have brought sugar alternatives to mainstream attention and they can be found in large groceries and health food stores. There are five artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
Acesulfame K – Used in prepackaged desserts and drinks. It is 200 times sweeter then sugar and has a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Aspartame – Sold as Nutrasweet. This is a controversial sugar alternative as many people are allergic to aspartame. There are lots of critics of it being used in packaged foods, however it is one of the most tested artificial sweeteners to ever get approved. It does contain the molecule methyl alcohol, which is a precursor to formaldehyde and enzymes in the body can make it active. Some researches affirm it can cause cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Neotame – Used in prepackaged baked goods and gum. It is 10,000 times sweeter than sugar and has the classic artificial aftertaste.
Saccharin – Sold as Sweet ‘n’ low. Previously thought to cause cancer, saccharin was banned for use from 1938 until 2000. It was discovered that when tested on rodents, a unique protein they have causes an adverse reaction. Further testing found that this poses no risk in humans and the ban was lifted.
Sucralose – Sold as Splenda. It’s one of the most common sugar alternatives found in grocery stores. This sugar product is altered to not be absorbed by the body. Processed in a heavy metal refinery process, the sugar has chlorine added to it that makes the human body not absorb the sugar molecules. The process uses arsenic and lead that is found in trace amounts in the product. When heated, the arsenic can be absorbed by the body and found in the blood stream.
While sugar alternatives lower the calorie count in foods, they may have lingering health effects. When you choose to use artificial sweeteners, education and taste testing is key to the enjoyment of the finished product.