Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Health

Lose the sugar, not the sweetness, in cookies made with stevia

Savoring the sweet life is becoming more confusing with so many new sweetener options. Sugar alternatives like sorbitol, xylitol and mannitol are used in gums, frozen desserts and many confections and led to a family argument during a trip to the supermarket. These sweeteners can cause gastrointestinal side effects that many people want to avoid.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration proposed that nutrition labels for processed foods indicate not just the amount of added sugar, but also the percentage of daily recommended calorie intake it represents. Manufacturers criticized the proposal and declared that the upper limit of 50 grams of added sugar per day is not scientifically valid.

Dr. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University, thinks processed food companies do not want a label change because "One 16-ounce soda would be it for the day." (A 16-ounce soda contains about 12 teaspoons of sugar, and each teaspoon contains 4 grams of sugar.)

Whatever can be done to change food choices and reduce sugar intake could produce health benefits. According to a 2014 survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation, funded by the food and beverage industry, consumers said that they would be less likely to buy a product if the label listed added sugars.

Sweeteners were one of the main attractions at the recent Natural Products Expo in Baltimore. Xylitol and erythritol were well represented. (It's worth noting that if consumed in quantities of 2 teaspoons or more, bowel issues may result.) Erythritol is made in a fermentation process from corn, so those with sensitivities may need to avoid it. Coconut sugar and a new SugaVida (sap of the Palmyra tree) from India are both low in fructose, whereas agave and honey are more than 80 percent fructose.

Monk fruit, or Luo Han Guo, is a tropical vine from Southeast Asia that belongs to the gourd family. Buddhist monks grew it in the mountains of China for medical infusions. It has no calories and is about 200 times sweeter than sugar and used in beverages, yogurt and cereals. Chinese law prevents monk fruit trees and raw products from leaving the country, so cost and availability can be an issue.

Stevia plants hail from South America and are sold at local home and garden stores. Stevia grows like its relatives, daisies and ragweed, and most of it comes from Asia.

For years, stevia was sold as a dietary supplement. Then, stevia extract was developed by Cargill and Merisant. Known as rebaudioside A, or rebiana or reb A, it was granted Generally Recognized As Safe status by the FDA in 2008. Whole-leaf stevia has not been granted GRAS status despite numerous studies reporting no adverse effects. Currently, stevia-rebiana is used in many food products. It also can be used in cookie, cake and muffin recipes. Some brands contain erythritol to provide bulk in packaging.

Stevia rebaudiana is a healthier alternative for dessert lovers.

Betty Wedman-St Louis is a licensed nutritionist and environmental health specialist in Pinellas County and author.

Comments
Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA ó Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing. In its latest revision to a disease class...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

The extensive government trial was intended to settle an age-old question about alcohol and diet: Does a daily cocktail or beer really protect against heart attacks and stroke?To find out, the National Institutes of Health gave scientists $100 millio...
Published: 06/16/18
More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults are taking prescription drugs, including hormones for contraception, blood pressure medications and medicines for heartburn, that carry a potential risk of depression, according to a study published in the Journal...
Published: 06/12/18
Itís time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Itís time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Courtney Bilyeu was running toward the murky water alongside a few military officers when it happened.She was an accountant for the U.S. Navy at the time. And on her way to take a swim with some coworkers in a California beach, she saw blood. The wat...
Published: 06/12/18
Itís important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

Itís important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

The next time you head to the drugstore to buy sunscreen, donít forget to pick up some sunglasses, too. Thatís because both products work to protect your body from the sunís damaging ultraviolet rays.Wearing sunglasses for protection should not be re...
Published: 06/09/18
In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

ST. PETERSBURG ó Kidney disease doesnít discriminate.The crowd of more than 200 patients who gathered at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort range in age from teenagers to seniors. They are of different ethnicities and come from all over the...
Published: 06/08/18
Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

YES, MELANOMAS CAN BEGIN IN THE EYEIs it true that melanoma can develop in the eyes? If so, how common is it? How is it treated?Melanomas can begin in the eye, a condition called intraocular melanoma. Treatment for intraocular melanomas used to prima...
Published: 06/08/18
For writer, using a heart rate monitor takes HIIT from frightening to fun

For writer, using a heart rate monitor takes HIIT from frightening to fun

High-intensity interval training is one of the biggest trends in fitness, but it has always seemed a bit scary to me. To a mere mortal with achy knees and an aging body, even the acronym ó HIIT ó sounded intimidating.But recently, I overcame my fears...
Published: 06/08/18
Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: Ďdraggedí

Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: Ďdraggedí

By KATIE WORKMANOne of the amazing things about Italian food is that the best dishes are often so completely, refreshingly simple. Like, four-ingredient simple. (We donít count olive oil and salt. Or water. Or air.) I love broccoli. I can roast brocc...
Published: 06/08/18
What to get Dad? Try a Fatherís Day gift that will do him good

What to get Dad? Try a Fatherís Day gift that will do him good

Dads are notoriously tough to shop for. Theyíre not all that great at dropping hints, the way moms do, and if you ask what your dad might want or need for Fatherís Day, heíll likely say, "Nothing" or "Donít spend your money" or "I just want to be wit...
Published: 06/08/18