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    University of Phoenix
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Are Sugar-Free Products Really Sugar Free?
by admin on: May 2nd, 2011

Frequent readers of the New York Times newspaper know that, on each and every Tuesday, the newspaper includes a section called the ???Science Times.??? The articles in this section of the paper often relate to health, research, and new discoveries. There is also a very informative section that takes a claim, sometimes an urban myth or a very relevant issue, and addresses the claim with the ???facts.??? One of the published claims recently addressed the claim that artificial sweeteners (such as saccharin, sucralose or aspartame) have the ability to raise blood pressure.

This is a very interesting claim ??? and is especially important for people who have to actively manage their blood sugar levels. Here are the facts: most of the artificial sweeteners that are found in products like soda provide a degree of sweetness without adding the calories provided by ???real??? sugar. These sweeteners contain no sugar and thus, have no effect on a person???s blood sugar level. However, it is still possible that a product containing an artificial sweetener and labeled ???sugar free??? may affect a person???s blood sugar level. The reason why this occurs is actual quite simple ??? there is another ingredient in the product that has an effect on a person???s blood sugar level. This additional ingredient is often referred to as a sugar alcohol; this name is derived from the ingredient???s structure which appears similar to both a sugar and an alcohol, but is neither.

Sugar-free products, such as sugar-free cookies, gum, chocolate, and even sugar-free hard candy may have a sugar alcohol in the ingredient list. Sugar alcohols have fewer calories than sugar; however, sugar alcohols are similar to sugar in that they can raise a person???s blood sugar level (although this effect is smaller than the effect of sugar on blood sugar levels). Some examples of sugar alcohols are sorbitol, maltitol and xylitol; look for words ending in ???-ol??? which generally indicates an alcoh-ol.

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