My name is Arthur and I have had a lifelong interest in nutrition. When I was a young my father used to talk about it all the time. He was a doctor, and he was good at giving advice, though he seldom had any use for it himself! I remember, even at an early age, listening to him talking about salt and the effect it could have on blood pressure. He would explain that certain foods should be taken in moderation, or avoided. And he would describe operations he had attended where patients had received lifesaving surgery for clogged arteries. That caught my attention!
I was determined to eat a healthy diet, and I did, with the information available back then. Brown bread, muesli, fruit, honey. My only weakness was sugar, I loved sweet things, and I still do! My father advised against excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, especially sugar. Nevertheless, he always seemed to have a bar of fruit and nut chocolate in his pocket, and he would be kind enough to share it with me if I happened to accidentally discover it there!
So I began to develop good eating habits from an early age, which I still have to this day. I read books on nutrition, watched programs on TV, and followed articles about food in newspapers that caught my eye. I couldn't pick up a product without looking at the list of ingredients. I did it as much out of interest and curiosity as for health reasons, and I still do it, though my eyesight isn't as good anymore, and the writing seems to be getting smaller all the time!
Over the years, however, new and important information has become available on what is really healthy and what is not. What was once considered bad has now become good, and vice versa. Eggs were once unhealthy, now they're excellent if they are organic or free range. Margarine was superior to butter - not any more, hydrogenated fats are the new evil! Fruit juices were excellent, especially if freshly squeezed. Now they are full of fructose, and should be considered as harmful as ordinary sugar.
And talking about fructose - I could write a whole book about that! I remember seeing it years ago in a health food shop. It was made from fruit, was almost twice as sweet as sugar, and didn't cause a glycemic spike. Wow it had to be good! Refined fructose is now considered to be very harmful. It is believed to be a major cause of dietary problems in the US and according to Dr Mercola 'Rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity ("beer belly"), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure—i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.'
Until a few years ago I had a fairly simple view on carbohydrates - whole, complex carbohydrates were good, refined ones were bad. Anything in a natural state was good, anything in a processed state was less so. It's still a good guideline, but it's not quite as simple as that! For example honey was always considered a healthy option. It still is in moderation, and it has beneficial qualities, but it is full of fructose and must be considered harmful if taken in excess.
I also believed that all artificial sweeteners were bad - full stop. Though that didn't totally stop me consuming them if they were added to a product I liked (and they often are). I remember the first time I tasted Saccharin. My mother bought a box of Hermesetas in the Chemist. We were all stunned that this tiny pill could sweeten a whole cup of tea. In the early 1980s I began to read of a wondrous new sweetener that was awaiting approval in America. It was in fact a protein - Aspartame. And it was supposed to taste exactly like sugar with no aftertaste. I couldn't wait to try it. I have to say I was most disappointed when I eventually did, in my view Saccharin tasted better!
Over the years the list of sweeteners has increased, including natural products and sugar alcohols. In fact the list is now so long that it is almost impossible for most people to have any understanding about the products they regularly consume. And these new types of sweeteners are in everything - processed food, bread, pizza, toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum, cough mixture etc.
Most people don't even know what a sugar alcohol is, yet they regularly consume these substances without even being aware of the potential side effects. Even as new sweeteners are appearing, new and updated information is also becoming available about what is safe and what is not. How are people to supposed to keep up with all of this?
With that in mind I have created this website as a useful resource. My aim is to provide basic, accurate and up to date information on every sweetener available. I have attempted to do this in a clear and concise manner that is not too scientific. I have a technical background, I graduated from University College Dublin with an Engineering degree in 1980. So feedback is important! If I'm getting too scientific, or too boring, please let me know by filling in the form on the Contact Page.
All feedback is appreciated. Hope you find this website useful and informative.