RT Cunningham

Natural and Artificial Sweeteners - Too Much of Anything Isn’t Good

sweeteners I’m not on a ketogenic diet. at least not yet. I am trying to cut out sweeteners and other carbohydrates as much as possible. It’s hard to do, considering my wife (Josie) is a Filipino who eats rice all the time. Rice is loaded with carbohydrates, but not as much as some sweeteners.

Natural Sweeteners

Unless you use raw sugar, like the kind you find at Starbucks, your sugar isn’t so natural. White, granulated sugar is the processed juice of sugar cane or sugar beets. I don’t know the whole process but I know it’s cooked. White sugar has almost no nutritive value at all and brown sugar has very little.

Sugar is mostly carbohydrates, more quickly absorbed than the complex carbohydrates in other foods. The human body can convert it into glucose for energy rapidly. Unfortunately, it can also be stored as fat just as rapidly if it isn’t used right away.

There are other natural sweeteners processed from plants. Stevia is pretty popular these days, as is monk fruit extract. You may not have heard of it, but agave nectar is pretty good. It can come from the same plants as tequila and mezcal. I tasted it when I was in Temple Hills, Maryland.

Artificial Sweeteners

There are a few well-known artificial sweeteners and probably some not so well-known. The well known artificial sweeteners are saccharin, aspartame and sucralose. Of the three, I can only stand sucralose. Restaurants use yellow packets for it, with Splenda being the leading brand.

My mother and older sisters tried to use saccharin in the 1970s, instead of sugar, when making iced tea in gallon-sized pitchers. It left a nasty aftertaste and they abandoned that idea after one summer. I wouldn’t drink it at all. I tried diet soft drinks when aspartame replaced saccharin is some of them. It had a bad aftertaste as well. Some people like the taste but I’m not one of them.

I’ve been looking for soft drinks with sucralose in them instead of aspartame. I’ve only found three brands. Shasta diet soft drinks, Diet Rite and Coca-Cola with Splenda. All of them have limited markets. Why have I been looking? I want to use one of them as a cocktail mixer instead of regular Coke. I don’t want to consume more sugar than necessary.

I’ve been using Splenda in my coffee for a few months. It took some getting used to because it doesn’t taste exactly like sugar. I’m aware of the health risks but I don’t think they’re any worse than consuming sugar itself. I still use sugar on occasion because I can’t use Splenda in everything I need to sweeten, such as oatmeal.

No Sweeteners?

There are people who can eat plain corn flakes without adding sugar. There are people who can drink black coffee with absolutely nothing added. I’m not one of them. I remember aunts, uncles and my parents drinking coffee around the dining room table. Some of them used evaporated or condensed milk as creamers but none of them added sugar by itself to their coffee.

Lately, meaning the last year or so, I’ve tried to avoid sweet foods and drinks of any kind. Coffee, with Splenda, has been my number one drink for eight months. Since I’ve been in Florida, I’ve had maybe two or three cocktails in total, with regular Coke. I’ve had more beer in the last eight months than I had in the previous 10 years.

I believe I’ll eventually remove most sweeteners from my daily diet, both natural and artificial. In some cases, I may remove the food items that need sweeteners.

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RT Cunningham
February 17, 2019
Health