Do you have a sweet tooth? Are you trying your very best to follow a balanced healthy diet, but your craving for cakes and sweets keeps sabotaging your good intentions?
Since its discovery many centuries ago, sugar has sweetened our lives on many levels. No-one can argue the difference a spoonful of sugar can make to a cup of tea, a tasty desert or even a savoury dish; and there is no greater comfort than a sweet treat on a bad day.
Most experts agree that a “moderate” intake of refined sugar can be an acceptable part of a healthy diet. However, most of us consume far more sugar than the World Health Organisation’s recommended 10% of our total energy intake per day. Just think of all the fast foods, sugary drinks, chocolates, cakes and sweets available on the market. Sugar may be a carbohydrate and a source of energy, but it is not needed for nutrition; and our sweet addiction has resulted in an increase in obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases.
So, how can we come down from our collective sugar high?
Artificial sweeteners have been on the market for many years, but their popularity has been varying due to some (mostly unfounded) health concerns, a bitter aftertaste and their unsuitability for use in baking and cooking.
Perfect kitchen companion
The Fore Food Group has come to the rescue with their newly launched Canderel Yellow artificial sweetener. Unlike other sweeteners, it is made from sucralose, the only non-caloric sweetener made from sugar. It takes like sugar but contains little or no kilojoules; and the taste is sweet and clean without an aftertaste. The best of all is, it is great for cooking and baking as it remains stable at very high temperatures.
Sucralose is great to help control your energy intake, as it is not metabolised, and thus has no calories. It passes rapidly through the body virtually unchanged, is unaffected by the body's digestive process, and does not accumulate in the body. By replacing sucralose for sugar in foods and beverages, your kilojoule-intake can be reduced substantially, or, in many products, practically eliminated.
Sucralose is also safe for use by people with diabetes.
"As sucralose is not absorbed by the human body, it does not contribute to energy intake and can be used as a non-caloric sweetener for purposes of energy restriction and in diabetic diets," Health24's DietDoc, Dr Ingrid van Heerden says.
Studies have confirmed that sucralose has no effect on short or long-term blood glucose control for individuals with normal blood glucose levels or for individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Health24 joined celebrity chef Justine Drake at the Pick n Pay Good Food Studio in Cape Town to prepare a three-course meal using sucralose as a sweetener. Our initial scepticism soon evaporated when we discovered that the dishes on our delicious menu tasted no different from their sugar-containing equivalents. We prepared mini tomato tart-tartins as a starter, Sicilian style swordfish as main course and caramelised orange upside-down puddings as dessert; and the end-result was very tasty. The sucralose granules were also very easy to use - they measure and sweeten spoon for spoon like sugar.
The only difference was that recipes containing sucralose require a shorter cooking time, especially cake. "It’s best to look for visual signs that your recipe is done. The look and feel of your recipe is the best indicator," says Justine. “Also remember to follow your nose. When you can smell your baking, it’s usually a sign that it’s almost done.”
And finally, is sucralose safe?
The safety of sucralose has been documented by a thorough safety evaluation programme. More than 100 studies conducted over a 20-year period have demonstrated the safety of sucralose as a sweetener.
Sucralose was first approved for use in 1991 by the Canadian Health Projection Branch of Health and Welfare, and every other agency that has since assessed sucralose has similarly concluded that it is safe for use as a sweetener.
"Sucralose has been accepted as safe for human consumption by most of the international health agencies," DietDoc confirms.
"According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, the safe level of consumption is set at 9 mg/kg/day. A woman weighing 60 kg, therefore, would be advised not to consume more than 540 mg of sucralose per day.
"Anyone using sucralose products should always check to see what other compounds have been added to the sweetener (e.g. maltodextrin or dextrose), which could increase the energy value slightly, but not significantly," DietDoc adds.
Agencies that have approved sucralose include: FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Union Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).
Sucralose is now approved for use in over 80 countries. Internationally, no regulatory concerns have developed.
- (Birgit Ottermann, Health24, April 2011)