Posts Tagged ‘sugar’

Allulose is a new low calorie sweetener that is beginning to make an appearance in foods on grocery store shelves.

If you are used to scanning the sweeteners on grocery store shelves, you may have noticed a new ingredient recently. Though it has been on the market here in the US since 2015, allulose is beginning to make an appearance in more foods for a wide variety of reasons.

Allulose is often called a rare sugar. I just figured this was a clever marketing term, but there is actually an International Society of Rare Sugars in Japan. Though we think of sucrose (that white granular substance we use while cooking and baking) as sugar, there are actually over 50 kinds of rare sugar that show up in nature. A little tweak here or there to a basic sugar molecule can result in a different sweetness level, different browning characteristics, and a different way of being metabolized in our gut.

In April of this year the FDA announced that allulose can be excluded from the total and added sugar counts on Nutrition Facts labels when used as an ingredient. Susan Mayne, Ph.D. and director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition stated “The latest data suggests that allulose is different from other sugars in that it is not metabolized by the human body in the same way as table sugar. It has fewer calories, produces only negligible increases in blood glucose or insulin levels, and does not promote dental decay.”

So what does that mean for us? If a food contains allulose as an ingredient, it will be declared in the ingredient statement on the label. However, it will not show up on the label as an added sugar in the Nutrition Facts. Each gram of allulose can be calculated as contributing 0.4 calories per gram rather than 4 calories per gram like sucrose. I recently saw a bag of allulose in a grocery store with a front label that read “100% sugar free.” Be on the lookout for these types of claims. Allulose is still a sugar.

Allulose occurs naturally in very small amounts in foods like wheat, jackfruit, figs and raisins. However, on a commercial scale, allulose can be made through a special processing of carbohydrates from corn, sugar beets and other sources of sucrose.

Allulose is an intriguing new ingredient for food manufacturers who are striving to give consumers what they say they want: a reduced sugar product that tastes great without the aftertaste or controversy of artificial non-nutritive sweeteners. It will most likely begin to show up in products marketed toward those trying to lose weight and those with Type 2 diabetes as research continues into the effects of allulose on blood glucose and insulin levels.

Like all novel ingredients, remember that this is just one promising tool to aid in achieving sweetness at a lower calorie level. In most cases, allulose is going to be included in foods that we should only be eating occasionally as special treats anyway. It is hard work to eat a balanced diet in moderation and enjoy physical activity, yet these are the keys to healthy living. Make it a healthy day!

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County


International Society of Rare Sugars (2019) at http://www.isrs.kagawa-u.ac.jp/index.html

Arnold, N. (2019, April 17) FDA in Brief: FDA allows the low-calorie sweetener allulose to be excluded from total and added sugars counts on Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels when used as an ingredient. athttps://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-brief/fda-brief-fda-allows-low-calorie-sweetener-allulose-be-excluded-total-and-added-sugars-counts

The Calorie Control Council (2019) Allulose Low Calorie Sugar at https://allulose.org/

Green, E. (2018, June 27) Allulose potential: German start-up develops “real sugar without calories” at https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/sugar-without-calories-german-start-up-eyes-emerging-potential-for-allulose-in-europe.html

Wenli, Z., Yu, S., Zhang, T., Jiang, B., & Mu, W. (2016) Recent advances in D-allulose: Physiological functionalities, applications, and biological production. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 54, pp.127-137. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2016.06.004 at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2016.06.004

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/cupcake-cake-sweets-sugar-carrot-279523/

Read Full Post »

hot-chocolateHot chocolate is my favorite drink during the fall and winter months. The snow was falling outside and I was anxious for my 1st cup of the New Year. However, I made a New Year’s Resolution to be healthier and watch my sugar intake. Have you ever taken time to stop and read the nutrition label on a box of hot chocolate?  The first two ingredients are sugar and corn syrup. Cocoa is not listed until the fifth ingredient. My once loved drink was slowly adding weight to my body. One cup of hot chocolate can contain anywhere from four to seven teaspoons of sugar. Since my favorite way of making mine is with reduced fat milk and using original hot chocolate packaged mix I was drinking SEVEN teaspoons of sugar in one cup!

I was not going to let one little drink ruin my goal of becoming healthier. I set out to find a better option. Standing at the grocery store my mind was overloaded with all the different options. All too many times we believe what we read on the outside of the box instead of taking the time to read the nutrition label. No sugar added had to be better for me right? It should have fewer calories. Or what about the all-natural versions where you can pronounce all the ingredients?  There aren’t any added sweeteners or artificial flavors in them. What if I pick the dark chocolate flavor? Dark chocolate has antioxidants so that hast to be the best option. What about my whipped cream or marshmallows on top?

So what is a person to do when they still want that cup of hot chocolate but are trying to be healthier? The American Heart Association offers some suggestions on how to trim the calories by using fat free milk, low sugar hot chocolate packets and a minimal amount of toppings. If you would prefer, make it yourself so you can control the amount of sugar. Chances are you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen. By personally controling the amount of sugar you are using it’s no longer the number one ingredient. Start with taking your favorite hot chocolate recipe and only use half the amount of sugar. It will not seem as sweet but you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla extract to help give it that extra something special. For a greater depth of flavor try simmering a cinnamon stick with your milk. Maybe you are looking for a recipe that is a sophisticated, European-style of hot chocolate which is thick and rich.

A healthier version of hot chocolate is very doable and in moderation has great health benefits. After all cocoa beans do come from seeds of a fruit that is grown on trees in tropical forests. That makes chocolate a fruit right?

Source: Gampel, S., & Bobroff, L. B. (2010, October). Dark Chocolate Benefits. Retrieved from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FM/FM38300.pdf

Source: Core, J. (2005, April 4). In Chocolate, More Cocoa Means Higher Antioxidant Capacity . Retrieved from http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2005/050404.2.htm

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Read Full Post »

Unhealthy ChoicesDo you think that your current sugary snacks may be making you crave more sugary snacks? This may be the truth for many people. When you eat simple carbohydrates, without protein or fat, hunger may be satisfied but it is usually short term. The energy boost usually wears off quickly leaving you hungry and soon craving more food.

According to Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, “our appetite may be hardwired and sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth.” The feel-good brain chemical, serotonin, is released when carbohydrates are eaten. Sugar is carbohydrate, but so are other foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Sugar also releases endorphins that calm and relax us. This is like a natural high.

Americans average about 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association. The AHA recommends 6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men. So what can we do to tame those cravings and meet these recommendations? Try these tips to get started in the right direction.

Eat just a small amount. If you are really craving something have a small amount. Try the fun-size candy bar or the small cookie. Try to stick to 150 calories or less.
Combine foods. Try combining the food you are craving with some healthier options. For example, dip a banana in chocolate sauce or add mini chocolate chips to almonds. This way you are still getting some healthy nutrients from the healthy foods.
Grab chewing gum. According to nutrition advisor, Dave Grotto, chewing gum has been shown to reduce food cravings. So grab a stick of gum when that feeling for something sweet arises.
Reach for some fruit. You get fiber and nutrients along with sweetness when eating fruit. According to addiction specialist Judy Chambers, LCSW, CAS, having foods like nuts, seeds and dried fruits on hand can often help you steer clear of sugary treats.
Get moving. When the cravings for sugary foods hit, get up and walk. Taking your mind off the craving can help.
Choose quality over quantity. Savor the food you are craving but keep the portion size small. Concentrate on the taste and enjoy it. Incorporating small amounts of those foods we love is not harmful, overindulging can be.
Eat regularly. When you wait too long between meals the cravings for high sugar, high fat foods may increase. Eating every three to five hours can help keep blood sugar more stable. By choosing protein, fiber-rich foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, hunger may not be as severe.
Reward yourself. When you have successfully managed your cravings, do something for yourself. Soak in the tub, or purchase a new clothing item or decorative item.
Slow down. Diet mayhem often results from lack of planning. Dr. Chambers states “eat what you intend to eat instead of eating when desperate.”
Support helps. Frequently people turn to sugary foods when stressed, depressed or angry. Sugar will not help emotional situations or issues. Try to figure out the underlying issue and address that without the sugar.
Mix it up. It may take more than one strategy to stop sugar cravings. By having a variety of tricks and figuring out what works for you, the chance of success increases.
Go easy on yourself! Changing any habit is difficult. Every victory is one step towards a healthier you!
Source: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features
Writer: Liz Smith, M.S., R.D., L.D., Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Northeast Region, Ohio State University Extension.
Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, M.S., R.D., L.D., Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, West Region, Ohio State University Extension.

Read Full Post »

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar per year. That’s five grocery store shelves filled with 30 or so one pound bags of sugar. You may find this hard to believe, that’s probably because sugar is so abundant in our diets that most of us have no idea how much we’re consuming in everything we eat.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons. The AHA recommendations focus on all added sugars, without singling out any particular types such as high-fructose corn syrup. For more detailed information and guidance on sugar intake limits, see the scientific statement in the August 2009 issue of Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association.

Tips for Reducing Sugar:Sugar

  • Plan and prepare ahead.
  • Take sugar (white and brown), syrup, honey and molasses out of your reach! Don’t keep them on the counter or table, if you have to open a cupboard to get them out, you may not use them as often.
  • Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly like pancakes, coffee or tea. Try cutting the usual amount of sugar you add by half and make changes from there.
  • Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages.
  • Buy fresh fruits or fruits canned in water or natural juice.
  • Add fresh fruit to cereal or oatmeal instead.
  • When baking cookies, brownies or cakes use modifications to the recipe instead of sugar by adding extracts such as almond, vanilla, orange, lemon or applesauce. For more ideas check out this factsheet http://go.osu.edu/modify.
  • Drink more water.
  • Eat more fiber.

Remember that treats should be occasional! Keep them away from both your home and your desk! This is not always easy but a few tips can help us start the New Year with healthier habits.


American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Sugars-and-Carbohydrates_UCM_303296_Article.jsp

USDA : http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib-economic-information-bulletin/eib33.aspx

Ohioline : http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5543.pdf

Written by: Marie Diniaco Economos, Ohio State University Extension, Extension Educator Family & Consumer Sciences, Trumbull County, economos.2@osu.edu.


Lisa Barlage, Ohio State University Extension, Extension Educator Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Liz Smith, Ohio State University Extension, Program Specialist SNAP-ED, North East Region, smith.3993@osu.edu.




Read Full Post »