As we enter the last few months of 2017 and the holiday season approaches, many of us will prepare to celebrate with family and friends. Celebrations bring to mind all of the sweet treats that will be shared, and I began thinking of the different sweeteners now available to us in America.
Many people will look to reduce their sugar calorie intake and may consider using an artificial sweetener, such as Aspartame, to sweeten hot drinks or even purchase items that contain this non-nutritive, low-calorie item.
So, let’s take a look into which sweet product, honey or aspartame, might be the better choice for your sweet treats this holiday season…
Honey is a natural product made by honeybees that has been used as food and medicine for thousands of years. The National Honey Board states that there are over 300 unique types of honey available in America, which vary in color and flavor depending upon the nectar of flowers the bees visit. Honey contains many chemical compounds such as carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other organic and aromatic acids which are beneficial to the body. Let’s take a look at some…
About 82% of honey is comprised of carbohydrates, which provide fuel to the cells of your body. Honey also contains proteins such as enzymes that help to break down sugars into smaller usable forms for the body. Honey contains 18 free amino acids, such as proline which is an important compound for the body for collagen formation, tissue repair, blood pressure maintenance and aids in the prevention of the thickening and hardening of artery walls.
Honey contains antioxidants such as pinocembrin, a flavonoid that has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-microbial properties in addition to its ability to remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents from the body.
Honey also contains trace amounts of nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, chromium, manganese, and water.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is sold under names such as Aspartame, Equal™, and NutraSweet™. This artificial sweetener is used in over 5000 foods and beverages today. Aspartame is about 50% phenylalanine, 40% aspartic acid, and 10% methanol.
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid and is found in three different forms such as L-phenylalanine, the natural form found in protein from foods like beef, fish, yogurt, eggs, and cheese. The second form is D-phenylalanine which is synthetically made and not found in food. And finally, the third form DL-phenylalanine which is a blend of the two previously mentioned forms. DL-phenylalanine has been associated with anxiety, jitteriness, and hyperactivity in children and larger intakes of this substance are associated with nausea, heartburn, and headaches. Aspartic acid is an acidic amino acid which plays important roles in the production and release of hormones and nervous system function.
Aspartic acid is found in plants such as avocado and asparagus as well as in oysters and wild game. Methanol is a colorless, volatile, flammable, and poisonous liquid chemical that is toxic to the human body.
Methanol is said to cause blindness when 10 ml of the substance is consumed, and 30 ml can be fatal.
Aspartame is about 180 times sweeter than table sugar and provides about 4 calories per gram.
Aspartame is implicated in the development of obesity and metabolic disease.
When consumed over periods of time, Aspartame is implicated in causing oxidative stress as it impairs the regulation of glutathione, which is referred to as the body’s master antioxidant responsible for preventing damage to our cells caused by reactive oxygen species, or ROS.
Aspartame has also been found to increase blood sugar levels by altering the balance of the gut bacteria, which can create a greater risk for diabetes.
We can see by looking at this quick study on Honey and Aspartame that the natural product, Honey, offers a greater array of nutrients to support your body and help keep you healthy this holiday season, while the lab-made Aspartame product carries risks for various disease states.
The biochemist Roger J. Williams, PhD., realized many years ago that our nutritional status (which comes from the food and beverages we choose to eat and drink) has an impact on our physical structure, biochemistry, and behavior. In other words, the foods and beverages that we consume can have a positive or negative effect on our body.
So, as the holiday season begins and you prepare to make some sweet treats like pumpkin pie or a sweetened latte, I hope you will consider using Honey over the artificial sweetener to supply some nutrients while avoiding potential risks for chronic illness that are present from consuming the artificial substitute.
Enjoy the upcoming holiday season!
Proverbs 24: 13 “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.”
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