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Vitamins or candy? And the issue of sweeteners.

April 11th, 2012 No Comments

My friend Renee introduced me to these gummy vitamins on our trip to Mexico.  She had them in a little bag and snacked on them in the middle of the day.  Of course when she offered me one, I ate 5 or 6.  They’re soooo good, and I felt like I was justifying the sugar and gelatin with the nutrients they supply.  I know I could use more Omega-3.  And I feel like I want more candy in my diet.  Win win, right?!

And I guess that’s the same thing we do for kids too.  They need vitamins and want candy.

I don’t take vitamin pills because they make me nauseous.  Instead, I usually drink a protein shake that is loaded with vitamins.  My latest raw mix from Whole foods tastes like dirt, but it gets the job done.

A company called Alterna-Vites just came out with a flavored powder that is supposed to be better for kids because it doesn’t have sugar.  Of course, if it’s a kids product, it has to be sweet, so they use Malodextrin, a “naturally-derived” sweetener.

I first learned about Malodextrin in Skinny Bitch, where they blasted all sweeteners.

“Malodextrin allegedly does not affect blood sugar in the same way as table sugar, which is why this food additive is used liberally in many processed foods. Maltodextrin is naturally-derived from carbohydrate containing foods like rice, corn, potato, and barley. The term “naturally-derived” is a key reason for this additive’s popularity. Since maltodextrin is a naturally-derived product, it is easier for the body to break down and digest efficiently.”  — via LoveToKnow

However, I’ve found that malodextrin is used in only used in heavily processed foods and sodas, which we shouldn’t be eating anyway.  (And it is said to be high on the Glycemic Index.)

The issue of the vitamins is yours to choose.  But that led me to thinking about the latest natural sweetener craze.

Stevia is the latest to break through the market as I’m sure you know.

When I found out my Dad was using Sweet ‘n Low on his cereal, I immediately went to Whole Foods to find a natural alternative.  He liked the Maple Agave I bought, but the powder was such a habit, he insisted I find something in that form.  Organic Stevia was my answer.  Stevia, aka Stevia Rebaudiana Berton, is a member of the Chrysanthemum plant family grown for its sweet leaves and nutritional benefits. It has no calories or carbohydrates.

There are 100% pure bags of stevia which are said to be the best for you.

Truvia is made from Stevia, but has other ingredients so it acts like sugar you can cook with.

Honestly, I’m not a sweetener girl.  I’ve learned to live without it since I gave up soda for Lent in high school and I really haven’t missed it.  In fact, the artificial sweetness is a little repulsive.  If a recipe calls for sugar, I try to use organic cane sugar, sucanat, or agave.  It just tastes better to me.

The bottom line here is:  Where does each fall on the glycemic index?  (Read more about the effect of GI here.) The lower the number, the better for you.

The lesson to learn is: READ THE LABEL! of the products you buy.  Best case scenario: you don’t buy things in packages, but that’s just not practical all the time.

I am certainly no expert on nutrition.  We are all learning as we go!  My philosophy has always been: less sugar, less processed food, eat what you love in moderation.

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