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The Dish

The Dish

With SFU's Registered Dietitian

Archive for the 'Beverages' Category

I have read your numerous posts on how aspartame is “safe”. But why all this controversy? I can’t understand who to trust. It seems every and any authority is saying it is either safe or extremely harmful. Dr. Mercola (mercola.com) says it is dangerous along with all these other “Dr.’s” on 60 minutes but the FDA says it’s all good and the cosmetic database says there is no harm in it despite some studies saying it causes some mutations in lab rats. I drink almost 1-2 gallons a week according to my calculations and this was one of the thresholds for interrupting homeostasis in the body.

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Thank you for reading The Dish. I use Health Canada and Dietitians of Canada as a reference for many of my posts. Although aspartame is permitted for use as a food additive in Canada, I don’t usually recommend it. It is “artificial”, made from a chemical process and many experts and consumers alike are trying to minimize our exposure to chemicals in all regards. Concerns arise with increased intake. Having 1-2 gallons per week of an aspartame containing beverage is of increased concern compared to someone who drinks a couple of cans of diet pop in a week. Even if we set aside the chemical issue, this amount of a beverage containing aspartame is likely displacing more nutritious beverages from your diet. Also, if the beverage is diet pop the acidity can damage tooth enamel.

Although aspartame is considered “safe”, the ADI (or Acceptable Daily Intake) for aspartame is 40 mg/kg body weight per day. For example, a 50 kg (110 lb) person could safely have 2000 mg of aspartame per day. One can of diet pop contains up to 200 mg of aspartame BUT that doesn’t mean it is recommended to drink 10 cans of pop in a day or even in a week.

There is a breadth of health information online and it is important to critically evaluate everything we read and look for scientific references. It is also important to make food and beverage choices you believe in. For example, some people prefer only organic foods while others choose items with the best value. So I really leave it up to the individual.

Nutritional science is also an evolving field, who knows what new information or products will be available in 10 years time. Have you heard of Stevia? There may be more beverages available soon with this plant based sweetener which is also much sweeter than regular sugar but without the calories.

I saw some apple juice in the grocery store that claims that it is 100% from concentrate. I usually make my own apple juice, but the color never turns out like the store bought apple juice. What does 100% from concentrate juice mean? Does it mean it is real juice? If it is real, how come their juice color is always better than homemade apple juice?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Great questions!

When you look for juice you want to look for 100% juice or 100% real fruit juice. From concentrate means the juice has been extracted from the fruit, then a whole lot of water is removed and then added back when the company wants to distribute the juice. For example, Florida is a great place that grows oranges. If all the orange juice was left as is in Florida, it would take a lot of shipping trucks to move it around to where it is distributed and sold. Instead, the bulk of water is removed to make the distribution process streamlined. If you are not sure if a juice is real juice, look at the ingredient list. SunRype apple juice for example just lists apple juice and vitamin C. If you see any words like sugar, sucrose, glucose or fructose – there is added sugar and therefore it is not 100% juice.

So nutritionally 100% juice from concentrate or not from concentrate (fresh) is the same. Making your own juice is even better. I just called SunRype to verify some information on processing. The color of store bought apple juice is different because of multiple clarification processes, it is made from a blend of different apples, the age of the juice as well as the added Vitamin C.

Hi, I just wanted to know if Fuze shape drinks are healthy. They say that they help metabolize carbohydrates and fats, do you think that these beverages are beneficial?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

No I don’t think these beverages are beneficial. The drink is “flavoured with real fruit juice” which means it is not 100% juice and does not fit into Canada’s Food Guide. It is sweetened with artificial sweeteners which I do not recommend for the general population. It contains Vitamin C and Chromium. If you drank a cup (250ml) of orange juice or better yet, just ate an orange you get near the amount of vitamin C in this drink. Chromium is a mineral that is found in whole grains, broccoli and green beans. From my experience it is unlikely for the average adult to experience chromium deficiency. Chromium has a role in moving glucose into cells. Basically it enhances the action of insulin and is important in the metabolism of carbohydrate and fat. Vitamin C can help your body absorb chromium. But, that is not to say you need to drink Fuze Shape to get chromium and Vitamin C. You will get enough if you are eating well according to Canada’s Food Guide.

The way these products get away with these claims and not having a nutrition facts table or traditional ingredient list is because they fit into the category of “Natural Health Products”. See more about what Fuze has to say here or Health Canada’s information here.

Lastly, this product and many like it are just marketing schemes aimed at the health conscious consumer. Why pay for water with artificial sweetener and a sprinkling of nutrients you don’t need? Go for plain water, have a piece of fresh fruit or vegetables as a snack instead and save your money.

Topic of the Month – October 2010: Vitaminwater

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Vitaminwater isn’t healthy

Well this is news to my ears, finally some action against the Coca-Cola company for deceptive claims for it’s Vitaminwater brand. I am a big supporter of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and so glad they are proceeding with a lawsuit. A couple of years ago, when Vitaminwater first came out it was all over this campus. Given away for free at Student Services events and highly marketed in campus food service outlets, it was hard for my message, that it is comparable to kool-aid with a sprinkling of vitamins, to get across. Even my cousin was buying 10 at a time because it was on sale! Find out what is happening by checking out the article on the CSPI website http://www.cspinet.org/new/201007231.html or another opinion column which discusses this issue http://www.naturalnews.com/029425_vitaminwater_Coca-Cola.html.

What do you think? Log in with your SFU ID and post a comment. Your name will not appear next to your comment.

Is moderate consumption of slimming tea still bad for health, or it is like any other tea?

Monday, October 4th, 2010

I looked into what exactly a “slimming tea” is and according to my results it can be any combination of green tea with various Chinese herbs. It is difficult to answer your question if I don’t know exactly what is in the tea.

I will say however, if you are looking to be slim from drinking a particular type of tea, I am concerned about your body image (how you feel when you look in the mirror). All of us come in different shapes and sizes and a large reason for this is our genetic make up. If you are struggling with this, please see the “body image & disordered eating” category on this site or feel free to ask me any further questions.

As for tea, please see the  Tea Time  page from EatRightOntario which gives some great detailed information on antioxidants and caffeine in tea.

I was wondering if there were some spices we could add into the berry banana shake? Would it be better with vanilla extract or added sugar or perhaps nutmeg? I made a banana blueberry shake today and found it didn’t taste as good as, say, Orange Julius or Starbucks. What is the difference between their recipe and ours?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Thanks for your great question, I’m glad you tried the Banana Berry Smoothie recipe.  The big difference is likely added sugar. Orange Julius and Starbucks don’t give away their recipes online but judging from the nutrition information there is added sugar. One thing I would suggest it using a very ripe banana. The more ripe, the sweeter it tastes. Also feel free to add any other flavors that you prefer, vanilla and nutmeg are great ideas. You could also try cinnamon. Also try different combinations of fruit to see what you like best. If you prefer a super sweet taste it’s okay to add a teaspoon or 2 of sugar or honey. Your homemade version would still have less sugar than the store bought equivalents.

I like my coffee in the morning (alot!) and I always need more throughout the day. How do I know how much caffeine is too much?

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Great question. I really believe that all foods/beverages can fit in moderation and this is true for coffee. Believe me, I am a fan of a nice hot latte! Health Canada recommends that adults limit their caffeine intake to no more than 400-450 mg/day. This is about the amount found in three cups of regular coffee. When I say “cups”, I really mean an actual cup (250ml) not the size of cup that is available Starbucks or Tim’s. Caffeine is a stimulant which effects our nervous system for a temporary feeling of being “energized” but large doses can cause effects such as light headedness, feeling jittery, disoriented and even nauseous. Too much caffeine as well as having it late in the day can impact your sleep.

 Remember caffeine is in chocolate, chocolate milk, colas, energy drinks, and tea (even green tea).  Check out this Check on Caffeine resource from BC Dairy Foundation to see if you are getting too much.