When in doubt, leave it out
I am borderline diabetic and am trying desperately to eliminate refined sugars from my diet. What are your thoughts about lo han fruit as a natural sweetener rather than artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners continuously are in the news regarding questions of their safety and of the manufacturing process. Concern arises that chlorine is used to convert the chemicals to an artificial sweetener. Lo han, on the other hand, is a rare fruit found in China, also known as Monk Fruit, and has been used as a sweetener in China for thousands of years. As a resident of China for many years, lo han was the sweetener of choice for us ex-pats as it is about three hundred times sweeter that our refined sugar. Lo han, used as a sweetener, has no calories, helps maintain blood sugar levels and is heat stable, allowing it to be used in hot or cold food or beverages. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, (FDA), lo han fruit sweetener received GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) status in 2009. The difference between lo han, a natural sweetener and artificial sweeteners, and how artificial sweeteners affect the body is of concern to Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity and weight loss specialist at Harvard affiliated Boston Children's Hospital.
Ludwig states that artificial sweeteners change the way we taste food. "Non-nutritive sweeteners are far more potent than table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. A miniscule amount produces a sweet taste comparable to that of sugar, without comparable calories."
Ludwig explains that overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit tolerance for more complex tastes. That means that people who routinely use artificial sweeteners may start to find less intensely sweet foods, such as fruit, less appealing and unsweet foods, such as vegetables, downright unpalatable. As a nutritionist, I always say-When in doubt, leave it out! If you ever question an ingredient or a product, or realize it was not around 100 years ago - it is probably best to not include it in your diet now!
Thought for the week: Don't look back - you're not going that way!
Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.