Posts Tagged ‘health’

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Bitter Sweet

Yesterday, I was at a cafe with my friend, Jesse. We each bought a coffee and a cookie for our nutritional kick-start of the day (around noon, at the time). I gave my visa card to the well-endowed clerk to pay for my purchase, and she gave me the debit user-input pad saying “You have to confirm.”

Huh? Um… Okay. “Purchase $3-something Okay?” I click Okay.

“Tip?” I think I actually made an audible grunt of surprise. Whatever. Fine. She’s nice to look at, I guess I’ll give her 15%. I’m so weak. “Purchase $4-something okay?” Okay.

I took my newly purchased beverage over to the counter to sweeten it up. Now, this may sound strange, but I actually prefer the taste of non-sugar sweeteners to actual sugar. Maybe this is because I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, and I don’t like adding so much sugar to my coffee. And I figure I could lose some weight, maybe not adding so much sugar would help. As I explain this to Jesse, he says something along the lines of “Weight or cancer, one of ’em will get ya.” I added one packet of sweetener, and one of sugar (regretfully, I missed the brown sugar).

Later in the day, I was in a computer lab at school working on project with my group. Jesse had given me a Tab energy drink earlier. He said he didn’t like the taste of non-sugar sweetener. I was kind of thirsty, so I pulled it out of my bag and was about to drink it. One of my group members said, “You know that stuff’s carcinogenic, right?”

“That’s what people say.”

“So… why do you drink it?”

“I dunno… tastes good?” I enjoyed my energy drink.

Since the start of this school term, I’ve been drinking a coffee sweetened with a sugar-substitute nearly every day. So this morning, I decided to look into the controversy over these sweet things I enjoy.

My current sweeteners at home are Sugar-Twin and some no name “calorie-free” sweetener. Both contain sodium cyclamate. Both say, “Use only at the advice of a physician” and both are available on the shelf of any grocery store, in Canada. In the US and the UK, cyclamate has been banned since 1969 and 1970, respectively, due to some tests on rats linking cyclamate to bladder cancer. According to Wikipedia, Sugar-Twin does not contain cyclamate in the US market, but instead uses saccharin, which has been banned in Canada since 1977, excpet for diabetic usage. Tab Energy apparently uses sucralose as its sweetener, which seems to be the least controversial. Many other low-calorie soft-drinks currently use aspartame as the sweetener, which has been linked to brain tumours. Of course, all of these “links” are not of the greatest strength.

For a seriously fascinating read, check out the Wikipedia article on sugar substitutes. For a much less fascinating read, search Canadian Food and Health regulations.

Now, as I finish my cyclamate-sweetened coffee, I embark on a painful journey of homework and assignments. I wonder if that’s the cause of this slight bitterness….

Whatever you use, use it in happy moderation. 🙂