Good-for-you chocolate chip recipes for National Chocolate Chip Day

May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Day (There’s also a National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day on Aug. 4, if you’re keeping track of such things), so we figured that was as good a reason as any to spotlight a few of the healthier chocolate cookie choices on shelves.

Not surprisingly, that’s much easier said than done.

It’s pretty much impossible to find a truly healthy cookie on store shelves – real cookies – not protein bars flavored or shaped like cookies. We’re not saying they’re not out there; they’re not in the many New Orleans grocery stores that we visited.

Plenty are marketed-as-better-for-you chocolate chip cookies, however, but each has its drawbacks:

The seemingly diabetes-friendly Murray’s Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are still essentially just white flour and artificial sweeteners (acesulfame potassium and sucralose) – and cookie-for-cookie, they’re about the same calories and carbs as a Chips Ahoy cookie, which has 160 calories and 22g carbs for three cookies.

Vegan chocolate chip cookies may look promising, like those by the Alternative Baking Company, but feature white flour, sugar and a host of other not-exactly-nutritious-yet-still-vegan ingredients, such as potato starch, salt and an oil blend. And the stats for each are staggering: 460 calories and 34 grams of sugar in a single cookie.

Another vegan cookie showing up more often on stores shelves is Lenny and Larry’s Complete Cookie with “baked nutrition” (whatever that means). Labeled as non-GMO with no dairy, no soy and no egg, each vegan cookie crams in 360 calories and 28 grams of added sugar. With more than a day’s worth of sugar, these aren’t much better than the Alternative Baking Company.

I was hopeful when I saw Munk Pack’s Gluten-Free Protein Cookie (available online), as it has more protein (9 grams) than sugar (8 grams). Problem is, each cookie is two servings – which translates to 16 grams of sugar (and 380 calories) for a single cookie. But of the brands and stats I’ve seen so far, this is among the better of the options. They’re individually packaged, too, which helps with portion control.

Build a better (for you) mac and cheese

A step-by-step guide to build a better mac and cheese, plus 3 nutritious pre-packaged options and 3 good-for-you recipes

I’ve run across two store-bought chocolate chip cookies that are a little better in terms of carbs, calories and sugar: Aunt Gussie’s Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies and Emmy’s Organic’s Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies, both at natural foods stores, such as Whole Foods Market.

Aunt Gussie’s Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are made with a blend of refined and whole grain spelt flour (spelt is a gluten-containing grain that can be easier for some people to digest, compared to traditional wheat), with no sugar added. Sweetened with maltitol, each crispy cookie has just 60 calories, 0 sugar, and 5.5 grams of net carbs.

Emmy’s Organic’s Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies are more like cookie dough than baked cookies – and you’ve got to like coconut. Gluten free and vegan, these grain-free “cookies” are made with coconut, agave, chocolate chips, almond flour, and coconut oil. Each cookie bite has 100 calories, 8 grams of carbs and 6 grams of sugar. Our informal group of taste testers agreed that they could do the trick to satisfy a hankering for a chocolate chip cookie.

5 ways to build a better, healthier Eggs Benedict

Five easy ways to build a better-for-you Eggs Benedict, plus a recipe for the delicious and nutritious Smoked Salmon Benedict from The Ruby Slipper.

We couldn’t find just what we were looking for on shelves, so we tested out a batch of recipes, and narrowed it down to the three below so we could build a better chocolate chip cookie ourselves.

All are made with little or no added sugar and fiber-rich whole grains, flours or legumes; all three are gluten-free, and one is vegan….

Yes, green smoothies can taste better than they look

yes green smoothies can taste better than they look 2017 images

Why Bother With Green Smoothies?

Yes, I know. Ugh, green smoothies? They’ve been around forever, but there’s a reason why. They can truly reinvigorate a tired and listless body. I know because I was there many years ago. I had let myself add an extra one-hundred pounds, and I was miserable.

Then I finally took a look in the mirror and realized how unhappy I was and then taking one step at a time, I slowly began eating better. Rather than rush into it and then stop, I took it slow and then finally got myself into juicing. I used to think it was too expensive and too much work, but after experimenting, I realized that many of these juices taste amazing. You can make the same type of thing you find at Jamba Juice for just a fraction of the price which is just another plus!

If you enjoy this guide, you can share it or also just download the PDF we made for you down below at the bottom of the article.

You see them everywhere these days, juice and smoothie bars and retail outlets going by names like Jamba Juice, Smoothie King and Tropical Smoothie Café. They sell blended fruit and vegetable drinks that are usually chilled, and could contain a wide variety of ingredients such as honey, syrup, sugar, milk or yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese and protein powders. These smoothie and juice joints exploded in popularity in the 1990s, though health food stores on the western coast in the US began selling smoothies way back in the 1930s.

That was when the electric blender debuted in the United States. Ice cream vendors and health stores began selling smoothies that usually added ice, dairy products and some type of sweetener to a fruit or fruits. Vegetables were sometimes used, but were not the primary ingredient. Right after retail smoothie and juice stores came into vogue at the end of the 20th century, green smoothies started to become very popular. They predominantly focus on leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens, celery and spinach, and are a great way to get your daily ration of healthy vegetables into your body.

When Australian businessman Joe Cross began preaching the health properties of juicing leafy green vegetables in 2005, the groundwork had already been laid for a juicing and smoothie explosion. Cross drank nothing but juices that were 80% vegetables and 20% fruit and ate nothing for 60 days. In that time, he lost 82 pounds and beat an autoimmune condition his doctors said he would have for the rest of his life.

He released a film of his juicing journey, titled Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. He made the movie available free of charge online at his website, as well as video sharing sites like YouTube. Seemingly overnight, everyone was making juices with leafy green vegetables for health reasons, with some people reporting truly miraculous physical transformations. You can check out his book by clicking here. The link to his free film is just above.

health benefits of green smoothies

The Health Benefits of Green Smoothies

The benefits of drinking green smoothies are numerous. The vegetables and fruits that give green smoothies their fresh, emerald hue are extremely high in nutrients, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They provide a long list of benefits and can improve both your mental and physical health. Kale is a popular leafy green in smoothies that offers the following health advantages.

  • High in fiber, low in calories and has zero fat – Kale delivers up only 36 calories in a 1 cup serving. That serving size also packs a healthy 5 grams of dietary fiber and zero fat.
  • Helps digestion and elimination – The fiber in kale promotes healthy digestion and helps keep you “regular.”
  • Absolutely packed with vitamins and nutrients – Kale delivers significant amounts of magnesium, folate, iron, vitamins A, C and K, and delivers more calcium than milk per calorie.
  • Fights cancer – The antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids present in high levels in kale help protect you against developing various cancers.
  • Boosts bone health – Eating kale (or drinking a smoothie with kale in it) delivers the vitamin K mentioned earlier. Vitamin K is essential for optimal bone health, as well as blood clotting.
  • Fights inflammation – This versatile and powerful health booster boasts excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is often the starting point for multiple chronic diseases and illnesses.
green smoothie healthy taste
  • Improved brain function – A diet rich in kale has been linked to better memory and a lowered risk of developing neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
  • A wonderful detoxing agent – Kale helps your liver filter out dangerous toxins and poisons, removing them from the foods you eat and the liquids you drink, so they can be eliminated.
  • Boosts healthy circulation – The iron in kale ensures that high levels of oxygen are transported to the various parts of your body that need it.
  • All of the healthy nutrients and minerals in kale also boost your overall immune system, help your cells grow properly, assist in the formation of enzymes and hemoglobin, lower your cholesterol, and fight asthma, arthritis and autoimmune disorders.
kale not so hot to look at so put in a green smoothie

Look at those amazing rewards for getting kale into your body.

Now imagine how supercharged your health and vitality is when you combine that leafy green with other healthy vitamins and fruits commonly used to make a green smoothie. You can literally handpick your smoothie ingredients to provide any type of health boost you need, from stronger, shinier hair and younger looking skin, to improved memory, no joint pain and total heart health.

Later on in this article, we will reveal the best vegetables to use in your green smoothie. We will also list the health properties each of those vegetables provide, so you can cater your green smoothie experience to deliver exactly the healthy rewards you are looking for. Right now though, let’s take a look at the reasons for choosing predominantly green vegetables over fruits the next time you make a smoothie.

So Why Choose Smoothies with Greens Over Fruits?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with putting fruits in your smoothies. The average person these days doesn’t get enough vegetables and fruits in their diet. Any time you choose fresh produce over processed food, junk food, sugar, salt, refined flour and other unhealthy food items and ingredients, you are doing yourself and your health a huge favor.

Sometimes though, people report weight gain after they start to drink lots of smoothies that are predominantly fruit-based. This happens for a very logical reason. If someone is trying to impact their health in a positive way by adding lots of healthy fruit to their smoothies, they have to be careful about their calorie and carbohydrate intake.

Vegetables have much fewer calories and carbohydrates per ounce than fruit does. If you choose predominantly fruits instead of vegetables for your smoothies, there is a possibility of weight gain because of this reason. Many fruits also have levels of natural sugar that are much, much higher than the typical vegetable. Most vegetables have little to no natural sugar.

You probably know what happens when the human body takes on too much sugar. It gets fat. So one very good reason to choose smoothies with mostly leafy greens over smoothies with too many fruits in them is to keep from gaining weight. A lot of people adopt a “1 smoothie a day” policy for the purpose of losing weight, they eat too many fruits, and they wind up gaining weight instead.

You may be wondering, “If green vegetables are so healthy, why can’t I just eat them instead of putting them in my smoothie?” That is a great question, so let’s answer that right now.

is drinking green smoothies better than eating greens

Is Drinking Green Smoothies Better Than Eating All Those Greens?

Joe Cross has a smoothie recipe called Joe’s Mean Green Smoothie. It contains the following ingredients.

joe cross mean green smoothie mix
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2 apples
  • 6-8 leaves kale
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. ginger
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 cup (250 ml) almond milk

When was the last time you ate an entire cucumber, 4 stalks of celery, 2 whole green apples, a large bowl of kale leaves, a half of a lemon and a banana? Those ingredients combined with a cup of almond milk to make just 1 smoothie! If you drink 2 or 3 smoothies a day, double or triple that list of produce.

This brings up why it is so much smarter to drink green smoothies than trying to eat all those vegetables and fruits instead… you simply cannot eat, digest and consume the number of fruits and vegetables that go into making 1 or more smoothies on a regular basis.

apples are perfect for green smoothies

Those foods, like the kale we mentioned earlier, that go into your smoothies are packed with nutrition. They are virtually bursting at the seams with health and well-being. Since it is very difficult, or impossible, to eat the same number of healthy fruits and vegetables that make up a green smoothie on a day-to-day basis, choosing a refreshing, chilled smoothie is the perfect vehicle for receiving all the health benefits those foods offer.

There is another very good reason to choose drinking your greens rather than eating them.

When you render healthy fruits and vegetables into liquid form, your digestive process is very quick. Because of the high amounts of densely packed fiber in physical fruits and vegetables, it takes a while for your body to digest them properly. When you add the ingredients of your smoothie into your blender, that blender is acting as a digestive aid. It is breaking down those foods for you, so access to the minerals, nutrients, vitamins and other healthy components in your fruits and vegetables are absorbed by your body much quicker.

This is why you can often times feel a surge of vitality and healthy energy only minutes after drinking a green smoothie. Your body begins to assimilate all of the health-boosting properties of your smoothie ingredients immediately. Finally, another reason to juice your greens rather than eating them is to save time. When you are in a rush, you can make a healthy smoothie and literally a couple of minutes. That beats the prep time eating time and cleanup time that can sometimes be extensive when you are cooking your greens rather than using them to make a smoothie.

The Basic Green Smoothie Formula

Ask 10 different people, and you may get…

Artificial Sweeteners Are Said To Be ‘Lite,’ But They Leave A Heavy Burden On Your Health

Diet drinks are even worse for our health than regular sugary sodas.

Diet soda drinkers, beware. Recent epidemiological studies have confirmed that the sweeteners used in diet sodas and other lite drinks increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Often asymptomatic, type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and is most often found among people who are overweight and sedentary.

Just published research results out of France show that people who “always or almost always” add sweeteners to their drinks – in sachet or tablet form – had an 83 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than those who use them “never or rarely.”

Aspartame, the most commonly used sweetener, and, more recently, sucralose (aka Splenda), have been used to replace sugar in so-called “diet” sodas for over 30 years.

Even though the quantity of artificial sweeteners in our diet has increased massively in recent years as industrial manufacturers add them with growing abandon to not just drinks but also cereals, biscuits, cakes, low-calorie yogurts and even certain medicines, reliable and precise data on their health impacts are rare.

Such products are marketed as low-calorie alternatives that are therefore healthy. This perception encourages consumers to overuse sweeteners to avoid putting on weight. But, even in moderation, these additives can have negative effects on health.

Today, sweeteners are increasingly controversial, and suspected of contributing to weight gain and being carcinogenic.

This has independent researchers across the world seeking to measure their real effects on health, particularly their impact on metabolic diseases.

Our team at France’s Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at Inserm, has been contributing to this growing body of health knowledge since 2012 through a research program on the risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

The program’s findings suggest that sugar substitutes should be treated with the utmost caution. In February, we published a study showing that the risk of diabetes increases with the consumption of artificial sweeteners. We had already shown that this risk was higher with so-called “diet” drinks than with regular sodas.

Our research is based on data from a cohort of nearly 100,000 French women in the Epidemiological Study of Women in National Education or E3N, one of the world’s few cohorts of this size.

This prospective cohort study has been monitoring the health of women who belong to the mutual health insurance company for French national education…

So long, sugar coma: healthy Easter options outsell traditional treats

Rebecca Kerswell, from Coco Chocolate, makes sugar-free eggs.
Rebecca Kerswell, from Coco Chocolate, makes sugar-free eggs.

Watch out Easter bunny, the sugar-free craze is coming for you.

Traditional chocolatiers are reporting a massive swing towards sugar- and sweetener-free Easter confections, as consumers look for healthy and more ethical options.

Rebecca Kerswell, of Kirribilli’s Coco Chocolate, makes an extensive range of European-style chocolate treats, using hand-tempered organic chocolate, but said that her sugar-free Easter egg, made from cocoa mass, vanilla and freeze-dried raspberries, outsold every other product in her online store.

The shop's sugar-free Easter egg has been their biggest seller.
The shop’s sugar-free Easter egg has been their biggest seller. Photo: Edwina Pickles

“It’s unbelievable, ever since it launched three years ago, the audience jumped on it straight away, and it’s still consistently been our biggest seller,” Kerswell said. “People want something without palm oil, high sugar or high fat content, and they know that the higher the cocoa mass, the higher the flavour.”

Kerswell, who hosted a private class for superstar Adele during her Australian tour last month, has now developed five other flavours in her sugar-free range, including blackberry and lime, and…

Healthy recipe for Maha Shavaratri– Gluten-free nuts laddoo

Fitness-nuts laddoo-THS

Wish to try some gluten-free, sugar-free, fat-free, guilt-free desserts? Here is a perfect recipe you can whip up during fasts to snack. Nuts laddu is filled with the goodness of roasted peanuts, dates and jaggery and is yet free of fat and low in calories. What’s more, you can prepare this nuts laddoo with only four ingredients and in very little time. Here’s a healthy diet plan for fasting.

Dates are an excellent source of dietary potassium and are considered good for weight loss. For the best results, use fresh seedless dates or organic dates. Peanuts are rich in monosaturated fats and oleic acid which makes it good for your heart. Eating a handful every day can keep heart disease at bay! Jaggery…

Artificial sweetener use up by 200 per cent in the US

The number of children consuming artificial sweeteners has risen by nearly 200 per cent in recent years, a US study shows.

It is the first time researchers have looked at how sweeteners used in food and drink are consumed by the American population.

“The findings are important, especially for children, because some studies suggest a link between low-calorie sweeteners and obesity, diabetes and other health issues,” said lead author Dr Allison Sylvetsky from the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Everyday sweetener consumption

Sylvetsky’s team said that less than nine per cent of young people were eating or drinking aspartame, sucralose and saccharin in 1999.

But that number went up to 25 per cent in 2012 and it is thought that children as young as two are using the sweeteners, which are often found in diet drinks and low-fat processed foods.

Overall, 20 per cent of children reported having some form of sweetener at least once a day.

Sylvetsky said: Just 8.7 per cent of kids reported consuming low-calorie sweeteners in 1999 and 13 years later that number had risen to 25.1 per cent.

“Kids aren’t alone in this trend. More adults also are taking in low-calorie sweeteners in diet soft drinks and in a variety of foods and snack items.”

In fact, their results showed that 44 per cent of adults consume some sort of artificial sweetener once a day and 17 per cent ate or drank a low-calorie sweetener three times a day.

No ‘scientific consensus’

Data of 17,000 people, which was collected from the National Health and Nutrition Evaluation Survey from 2009 to 2012, was used as part of the study. The findings were then compared to data which was collected from another survey conducted between 1999 and 2008.

Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the safe use of acesulfame-potassium, advantame, aspartame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose, there is concern about how good for people they actually are.

The university said there is still no “scientific consensus” on whether using artificial sweeteners positively impacts the health.

Previous research has suggested they may aid weight loss, but others say they have found evidence to suggest they may lead to piling on the pounds.

A further issue, that we have previously reported, is that many of the studies showing health benefits of sweeteners have been funded by the soft drinks industry itself. This may have therefore introduced a bias towards showing artificial sweeteners to be healthier than they perhaps are.

Sylvetsky highlighted the alternatives people can choose to ensure they are eating the right things, adding: “Drink water instead of soda. Sweeten a serving of plain yoghurt with a little fruit. And don’t forget an apple or another piece of fresh fruit is a great snack for both kids and adults.”

The results were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common long-term health conditions
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common long-term health conditions

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that results in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) due to the body:

  • Being ineffective at using the insulin it has produced; also known as insulin resistance and/or
  • Being unable to produce enough insulin

Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the body being unable to metabolise glucose (a simple sugar). This leads to high levels of blood glucose which over time may damage the organs of the body.

From this, it can be understood that for someone with diabetes something that is food for ordinary people can become a sort of metabolic poison.

This is why people with diabetes are advised to avoid sources of dietary sugar.

The good news is for very many people with type 2 diabetes this is all they have to do to stay well. If you can keep your blood sugar lower by avoiding dietary sugar, likely you will never need long-term medication.

Type 2 diabetes was formerly known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes due to its occurrence mainly in people over 40. However, type 2 diabetes is now becoming more common in young adults, teens and children and accounts for roughly 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide.

How serious is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a serious medical condition that often requires the use of anti-diabetic medication, or insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. However, the development of type 2 diabetes and its side effects (complications) can be prevented if detected and treated at an early stage.

In recent years, it has become apparent that many people with type 2 diabetes are able to reverse diabetes through methods including low-carb diets, very-low-calorie diets and exercise.

For guidance on healthy eating to improve blood glucose levels and weight and to fight back against insulin resistance, join the Low Carb Program.

Following pre-diabetes or metabolic disorder, type 2 diabetes can potentially be avoided through diet and exercise.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the hormone insulin is not used effectively by the cells in your body. Insulin is needed…

Trying to Cut Back on Flour and Sugar? Make These Insanely Amazing Cookies

Got an insatiable sweet tooth, but you’re trying to cut back on processed sugar? Head to your kitchen and bake these cookies right now! They’re not only free of white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or any other processed sweeteners, but they’re also flour-free, gluten-free, and vegan, so if you’re trying to eat cleaner, you can feel good biting into these chewy gems.

These cookies are made with dates instead of white sugar, and ground rolled oats…

Homemade Soda Fun, Healthy, and Environmentally Friendly

Like it was for many Americans, soda was a staple in my household growing up. Back in the 1980s, no one talked about the negative side effects of soda; it was served all day long and we all loved it. I personally drank soda every single day until I was 20. There was something about those fizzy bubbles that just lifted my spirits. However, today we know that the high-fructose corn syrup and other ingredients in soda can lead to a multitude of health issues, and that is sad in a way – it’s like learning that your lifelong friend isn’t who you thought they were.

But, thankfully, there are options today. One option is to make your own soda at home, which is actually healthier and cheaper than buying traditional soda. And the side effect is that your kids, friends, and family will be able to experience the effervescence that one can only get by drinking soda.

Differences Between Store-Bought and Homemade Soda

The main difference between store-bought and homemade soda is that you are in control of what ingredients are in the soda. When you buy mass-produced soda, you are subject to a huge quantity of sugar, artificial flavors and colorings, preservatives, and waste (think of all that plastic and aluminum!). Sure, it tastes delicious, but anything with that much sugar would!

Diet soda is no better than “regular” soda, due to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k, or sucralose. Even though diet soda is calorie-free, there is evidence that the ingredients are just as bad, if not worse, for you than regular soda.

So, what’s the alternative? There are other carbonated beverages, like club soda and seltzer, but you still are dependent on mass-production and limited flavors.

When you make your own soda, you have complete control of what will eventually go into your body. You can control the amount of sugar (yes, there is still sugar in homemade soda, as you will see below) that goes into each batch. And the sky’s the limit when it comes to which natural ingredients you choose to create your own recipe. Bottling your own soda is also better for the environment, since you can reuse the same bottles for each batch you make.

Making soda at home is a fun and creative outlet as well. You can teach your kids about the differences between making your own products and buying products, experiment with various herbs and spices, and discover new flavors.

How to Make Your Own Soda:

What exactly do you need to make your own soda, and how is it done? It’s actually easier than you might think! Whether you decide to purchase a carbonation device or use seltzer is up to you and how much you…

These Healthy Marshmallows Will Change Your Life

MARSHMALLOW

Have you ever heard of a healthy marshmallow? Probably not. The ingredients in your typical marshmallow recipe are corn syrup, sugar, cornstarch, water and gelatin and maybe some more sugar. Marshmallows are loaded with sugar, making us all love and hate them at the same time.

They might be unhealthy, but marshmallows are fundamental to having the perfect hot chocolate, campfires, and Rice Krispies squares. Yet, diabetics and others who need to limit sugar intake miss out on the simple pleasures that marshmallows bring due to high levels of corn syrup and sugar. This is of course completely unfair. I believe everyone needs to experience the tasty pleasures of roasting a marshmallow over a campfire or adding a few too many marshmallows to your hot chocolate!

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I started researching solutions and worked with author, Leanne Chan’s Marshmallow recipe to create a gluten-free, corn-free, Dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free Marshmallow recipe. However, in this version of the recipe I did add pure maple syrup and sprinkled organic icing sugar for personal preference. The recipe will still have that fluffy marshmallow texture and taste great if you don’t add the icing sugar or maple syrup.

Is There Such A Thing As A Healthy Marshmallow?

The marshmallow treat and candy that we all know and love was first created by people using the sap found in marshmallow root. But before people learned how to whip up the root’s sap to make marshmallows, they used it as a remedy for sore throats, the flu, and other medical purposes.

Marshmallow root is a herb that has been around for centuries. The ancient Egyptians extracted the sap from the marshmallow root and mixed it with honey and nuts. In the early…

MGH researchers uncover mechanism revealing why aspartame may not promote weight loss

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has found a possible mechanism explaining why use of the sugar substitute aspartame might not promote weight loss. In their report published online in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, the researchers show how the aspartame breakdown product phenylalanine interferes with the action of an enzyme previously shown to prevent metabolic syndrome – a group of symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They also showed that mice receiving aspartame in their drinking water gained more weight and developed other symptoms of metabolic syndrome than animals fed similar diets lacking aspartame.

“Sugar substitutes like aspartame are designed to promote weight loss and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome, but a number of clinical and epidemiologic studies have suggested that these products don’t work very well and may actually make things worse,” says Richard Hodin, MD, of the MGH Department of Surgery, the study’s senior author. “We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) that we previously showed can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome; so we think that aspartame might not work because, even as it is substituting for sugar, it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP.”

In a 2013 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hodin’s team found that feeding IAP to mice kept on a high-fat diet could prevent the development of metabolic syndrome and reduce symptoms in animals that already had the condition. Phenylalanine is known to inhibit the action of IAP, and the fact that…