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Sugar or Sweetener?

Author: Oksana Aron, MD Source: Weight Loss NYC Jun 21, 2014

Taste with Your Brain?

Over recent years many people have been reaching for artificial sweeteners, thinking that it’s healthier than the real thing. It turns out that your tastebuds don’t know the difference between sugar and sweetener — but your brain does.

A new study out of the Netherlands used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain responses in people sipping two different orangeade drinks — one mixed with sugar and another mixed with four artificial sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame K, cyclamate and saccharin).

The sugar and sweeteners were found to stimulate the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that detects pleasure. Only the sugared drink stimulated the caudate in the brain, showing that the human brain can tell the difference between a caloric drink and a noncaloric one.

Other research on artificially sweetened beverages include:

  • They can activate parts of the brain that create appetite, but do not satiate it.
  • Increased appetite has been found to occur in people who don’t consume artificially sweetened beverages often.
  • People who drink artificially sweetened beverages regularly tend to weigh more than those who don’t.
  • For those who consume a lot of artificially sweetened beverages, however, their brains, can become used to the sweeteners and may not necessarily cause them to eat more.
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Sweet Opportunity

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Eat More Food Without Labels ... Especially Plants

Author: Oksana Aron, MD Source: Weight Loss NYC Apr 1, 2011

Don't Judge a Box by its Cover

Nutritional labels on prepared foods are meant to guide consumers in making healthy choices. What has evolved in recent years are scores of empty and misleading claims requiring time and perhaps a college degree to decipher which foods really are “good for you.”

Common misleading food labeling includes empty claims that imply health benefits which have no backing. Among these are “Made with natural flavor,” “Doctor recommended,” and “Made with natural goodness.”

Some claims are accurate but don't give the consumer additional information such as pasta packages labeled “no cholesterol” — Plain pasta does not contain cholesterol! More misleading are labels such as on Edy's Dibs Bite Sized Snacks. They boast “0 grams of trans fat!” giving the impression that these chocolate covered morsels of ice cream are heart healthy when in fact a serving contains 16 grams of saturated fat. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibit companies from boasting of “0 grams trans fat” on products with more than one gram of saturated food per serving.

Don't Believe the Hype

Many labels for fruit-flavored items suggest that products offer the health benefits of fresh fruit when in reality, real fruit is found in small quantities if at all. Gerber Graduates Juice Treats-marketed for preschoolers- depict six different fruits on the package. The product actually contains grape juice concentrate and less than two percent raspberry and apple juice concentrate. The main ingredients are corn syrup and sugar, 17 grams worth, or about four teaspoons of refined sugars per serving.
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One of the most widely used claims capitalizes on the food pyramid's recommendation that “at least half of recommended total grain intake should be whole grains.”[5] Bread, cereal, cracker and even cookie packages often feature their whole grain and high fiber content. Yet these products often have refined flour as the first ingredient and a minimal amount of whole grains. Furthermore, a number of products which claim to be good sources of fiber are peddling fiber not from traditional sources such as whole grains, beans, vegetables or fruit, but from “isolated fibers” made from chicory root or purified powders of polydextrose and other substances. Unlike traditional sources of fiber, isolated fibers have not been shown to lower blood sugar or cholesterol, two of the key benefits of eating fiber.[3].

Kellogg's Froot Loops cereal boxes tout “Good Source of FIBER & Made with WHOLE GRAIN.” (A green leaf adorns the ampersand further fostering the image of healthy food.) While Froot Loops boxes list whole grains among the first five ingredients, the first ingredient is sugar. Ditto for many cereals and cookies labeled “made with whole grains.“

While the Center for Science in the Public Interest continues to urge the FDA to crack down on false and misleading food labeling, consumers can take proactive steps towards better nutrition. Read labels discriminately. When faced with choices among products (such as different yogurts), compare the nutritional facts and choose products with less saturated and trans fats and sugar, fewer artificial ingredients, and more nutrients such as protein and vitamins.

Eat more foods without labels, the foods your great-grandparents would recognize. As food guru Michael Pollan says, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
– Healthcare Author, Sima Michaels Dembo

Reference:
  1. Center for the Science in the Public Interest, www.cspinet.org/new/200912291.html
  2. Niman, Nicolette Hahn “Defending 'Foodies': A Rancher Takes a Bite out of B.R. Myers,“ February 17, 2011, www.the atlantic.com/life/archive
  3. Parker-Pope, Tara, “Six Meaningless Claims on Food Labels,“ New York Times, January 28, 2010.
  4. Wikipedia, Nutritional Facts Label
  5. DietaryGuidelines.com

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Sugar-coating High Fructose Corn Syrup

Author: Oksana Aron, MD Source: Weight Loss NYC Sep 23, 2010

Savvy consumers have increasingly become aware of what's in the foods they eat, including the health risks of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Food makers have caught onto this and now want to change the name of HFCS to simply "corn sugar" so consumers don't perceive it negatively. But is that strategic move in the best interest of the shopper trying to buy healthy foods?

HFCS is found in sodas, candy and many processed foods. A combination of fructose and glucose, it's used as a sweetener and preservative. It's also been blamed for being a major cause of the obesity (which also puts you at risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease) epidemic in the United States.

Doctors advise against all types of sugar -- HFCS, sucrose, fructose and glucose -- which have the ability to make you gain weight. They are all believed to be equally harmful when absorbed into the bloodstream. Some lab rats in studies have shown to gain more weight with HFCS compared to other sugars, but sometimes they did not.

Limiting your intake of all kinds of sugar and sweeteners is recommended to avoid unnecessary weight gain. Read those nutrition labels and look out for sugar content. And soon enough, you may have to look out for one more -- corn sugar.

Sources: NYTimes.com, MayoClinic.com

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Controversial Aspartame ... now renamed AminoSweet

Author: Oksana Aron, MD Source: Weight Loss NYC Jul 26, 2010
AminoSweet, No Thanks!

Say Ami-NO THANKS, to Un-Sweet news

Marketed under other names including NutraSweet, aspartame is present in many commercial products including diet foods and diet sodas, sugar-free chewing gum, sweetener packets and more - in fact 6,000 items more - including diabetic foods, vitamins, over-the-counter drugs and even some prescription medications.

Controversial because in 30 years, the FDA has received more complaints (over 10,000) for aspartame than any other food additive combined. Two-thirds of reported complaints reflect neurological symptoms that can even mimic severe health conditions making them harder to diagnose.

Diet Foods and Drinks May Cause Weight Problems

The controversy continues in that some applications of artificial sweeteners may induce metabolic syndrome, as well as simply mislead your body into how many calories you've consumed.

Aspartame, NutraSweet, AminoSweet.. not a health food

The advertising deception in these sweeteners is that in playing on popular culture's fears about sugar, they introduce a new molecule made from distortions in amino acids (basis of proteins) implying a healthy protein connection, where there is no such merit at all.

Mass-consumption of the phenyl-alanine and aspartic acid compounds in these sweeteners have documented effects that can affect brain hormone balance and more.

Healthy Foods Your Best Choice

Your best solution is to eat healthy foods free of artificial additives and misleading marketing messages! Send us your favorite diet recipes and we'll share them with our readers.


Source Huffington

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What's in Sugar?

Author: Oksana Aron, MD Source: Weight Loss NYC Dec 5, 2009

When you read food labels, a few grams don’t sound like much. But did you know that 4.2 grams of sugar equal 1 teaspoon? And one teaspoon of sugar contains 16.3 calories, which can add up.

White, refined sugar is high in calories and has no real nutritional value, yet it’s a main ingredient in a lot of the foods we love and crave. It can make your energy spike and drop throughout the day, but you can take charge of sugar ruling your diet.

• Eat fresh fruits for a snack or dessert instead of treats made with processed sugar.
• Add fruit to your meals instead of processed sugar.
• Choose drinks and snacks wisely that have low or no sugar — and stick with small portions.
• Watch out for “sugar-free” labels on foods with ingredients ending in “-ose” (which can be hidden sugar) or sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol that can be just as fattening as the sugared version.

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