Nestle scientists recently announced the discovery of a way to alter the structure of sugar such that Nestle’s bars could taste as sweet while using 40% less sugar. The structure is altered so the sugar is dissolved faster and our taste buds pick up the sweetness faster. This of course is a response by Nestle to the recent consensus that high sugar intake in diets has been a primary contributor to high obesity rates and related chronic healthy problems.
So…what does all of this mean for you?
(1) Don’t go on a candy bar binge. The World Health Organization recently stated that the REAL sugar intake goal should be at or below 5% of daily energy intake, or 25 grams per day. A Butterfinger bar alone has 24g of sugar! Even if that is reduced by 40% with this new sugar, you would still consume nearly 60% of a healthy diet’s daily sugar intake with ONE bar.
(2) Be on the look out for serving size reductions. This is the easiest way for companies to reduce levels of the ‘bad stuff” in their food and could be used along with the new sugar to hit the targeted reductions. Perhaps smaller bar serving sizes are ok, but you'll likely be paying the same price.
(3) Keep an eye on any new sweeteners or other ingredient changes. Companies have been using alternative sweeteners like splenda, stevia and agave for several years now. This is another tool that could be used in addition to the new sugar to make it a appear like a much bigger change. Just remember that the jury is out on whether these other sweeteners are any better for you than sugar.
(4) How will the body digest this new sugar? It will take some time before unbiased research is published on the new sugar and its health effects. We won’t know, for example, if the body digests this altered structure faster than normal sugar, which would cause an increased spike in glucose levels. This could make the reduced sugar a moot point.
(5) Nestle won’t begin introducing the new products until 2018 and then will “gradually reduce sugar levels”. This seems to be an admission by the company that the products won’t really taste the same, otherwise they could replace existing products as quickly as the old versions were purchased off of the shelves. Time will tell.
(6) Reducing sugar in its products is a net positive, so despite all of the above caveats, it’s great to see the world’s largest food company leading the charge on an important dietary initiative.
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