kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

There are lots of sugar-free sweeteners available to choose from and one of the best tasting and readily available is Splenda whose tagline is, “Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.”

Splenda, also known as Sucralose, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998 and it has been on the market ever since. It is in low-sugar processed food, can be found in supermarkets and restaurants, and sold in boxes and packets as a sugar substitute.

Splenda’s availability hasn’t quenched our sweet tooth. The last three decades have seen the astronomical rise of high-fructose corn syrup along with other artificial sweeteners. Not coincidentally, rates of overweight and obesity have skyrocketed. An estimated 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight. Nearly three-quarters of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight.

Sucralose is a disaccharide that is made from sucrose (table sugar) in a five-step process that replaces three hydrogen-oxygen molecules with three chlorine atoms. The resulting substance is approximately 600 times sweeter than sugar. Because is is a manmade, unnatural molecule, the body doesn’t recognize and metabolize it as sugar. The result is a sweetener made from sugar that mostly goes from one end to the other end of the digestive track without being absorbed.

Except, that it IS being absorbed.

The FDA and the Japanese Food Sanitation Council have done tests that indicate that those three chlorine atoms I mentioned above make Sucralose a chlorocarbon, also known as an organochlorine – a kissing cousin to some very toxic pesticides like DDT. This kind of pesticide accumulates in the body’s fat cells and other tissues, creating long term toxicity and contributing to numerous health issues even in low does.

Sucralose is used to sweeten processed foods, but because it is so much sweeter than sugar it would be impossible to measure out how much to use as a single serving. So, Splenda was developed to solve this problem. Splenda contains the bulking agents dextrose and maltodextrin to get the serving size correct. Stated serving sizes are small enough to slip under a loophole that exists in the FDA’s regulations and they can claim Splenda to be “calorie-free”. In fact, Splenda contains 3 calories per serving packet. Dextrose and maltodextrin are both refined carbohydrates (sugars). Splenda is 99% filler material (sugar) and only 1% Sucralose.

It is good to keep in mind that the FDA is the government agency charged with protecting customers from ill effects of food and drugs. Yet, they allowed trans-fats and Vioxx to remain on the market long after scientists had determined they were dangerous substances. Other artificial sweeteners like saccharin, cyclamates, and aspartame were all safety-approved and on the market for many years before long-term toxicities were discovered. (Research is often funded by the very companies who stand to gain the most from a product’s approval, so the FDA’s hands are sometimes tied.)

You will get one reading of studies on and another from independent studies.

  • Sucralose affects several metabolic functions associated with weight regulation. Sucralose INCREASES insulin secretion and alters sweet tastes receptors in the hypothalamus. This in turn elevates glucose and insulin in obese people. Keep in mind that only 1% of Splenda is sucralose and the rest is sugar.
  • Sucralose does not stimulate the release of gastrointestinal peptides that signal satiety and reduce appetite.
  • Sucralose, along with cyclamate (banned in the USA since 1970) and saccharin (banned reversed and Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin and Necta Sweet are still on the market) induce DNA damage in the intestinal tracts of mice.
  • Sucralose has been known to induce migraine headaches.
  •  Sucralose alters detoxification enzymes. This reduces the bioavailability of therapeutic drugs.
  • Sucralose reduces beneficial intestinal bacteria by 50%. This bacteria help ensure proper digestion and good immune function. Good function keeps out invading pathogenic bacteria. This contributes to weight gain.
  • Sucralose increases fecal alkalinity. The pH of a healthy digestive tract is highly controlled by the body to ensure proper digestion. If pH is off in one section, it can seriously disrupt the digestive process.
  • Sucralose undergoes degradation when heated in the presence of fats, such as in baking. Under these conditions there is concern that it may form compounds that are carcinogenic and genotoxic.
  • There is a Sucralose Toxicity Information Center that provides an array of reactions to ingesting Splenda, including flushing or redness of the skin, burning and blistering of the skin, acne, itching, swelling, welts, anxiety, panic attacks, nausea, bloated abdomen, lost of interest/becoming withdrawn, dulled senses, headache, seeing spots, pain, seizures, feeling faint… and the list goes on.

Aspartame is a non-saccharine artificial sweetener currently used in over 6,000 diet and low calorie food products. Popular trademark brands of the sweetener in the United States include NutraSweet®, Equal®, and Tropicana Slim®, which are used to sweeten a number of sodas and chewing gums.

Aspartame is a neurotoxin, meaning that it changes brain chemicals.  It is a NMDA receptor antagonist, which means that it inhibits the release of neurotransmitters that cause pain within the body. NMDA receptor antagonists are often used as a form of anesthesia for animals, but not on humans due to the fact that they often cause brain damage in rodents. The possible side effects of aspartame on humans include headaches, brain tumors, brain lesions, and lymphoma.

Aspartame gained FDA approval while it was owned by Donald Rumsfeld, who was at that time the CEO of the pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Company. Rumsfeld earned millions of dollars by marketing the product as NutraSweet, and when medical research into the product confirmed the risk of brain tumors, Rumsfeld simply hired another FDA board member to overturn the ban that the current board had inflicted.

Any further inquiries into aspartame’s health effects have therefore been relegated to independent studies, which often lack the funding to properly advertise their findings. However, the studies show overwhelming evidence regarding the apparent dangers of aspartame.

An analysis done using MEDLINE showed that 92% of non-industry sponsored studies reported one or more problems with aspartame in terms of its effects on health. These studies reported a range of side effects including fibromyalgia, brain tumors, memory loss, lymphoma, leukemia, and peripheral nerve cancer. Headaches and migraine symptoms are the most common side effects of aspartame.

An article published in the July 2007 issue of Science magazine featured 12 prominent health experts who support a ban on aspartame. It also featured a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Andrew Von Eschenbach requesting approval of the sweetener to be revoked due to extensive evidence that it causes cancer. Unfortunately, approval status has not changed.

No chemicals in our bodies are isolated. Compounds such as aspartame will interact with food, alcohol, medicines, and environmental toxins in unique and unpredictable ways.


The cherry is actually a member of the rose family. The fruit is typically about two centimeters in diameter and offers an inside of fleshy fruit that is surrounded by a thin skin. This tasty fruit is packed with natural antioxidants. They also provide a number of nutrients including calcium, iron, potassium, and flavonoids. Because of the high nutrient content, cherries provide a number of health benefits. In fact, cherries can help you overcome a number of different diseases and may even help to prevent cancer.

Cherries are small stone fruits that come in a variety of colors and flavors. There are two major categories – tart and sweet cherries.

Their colors can vary from yellow to deep blackish-red.

One cup (154 grams) of sweet, raw, pitted cherries provides:

  • Calories: 97
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 25 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Vitamin C: 18% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Potassium: 10% of the DV
  • Copper: 5% of the DV
  • Manganese: 5% of the DV

Vitamin C is essential for maintaining your immune system and skin health while potassium is needed for muscle contraction, nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and many other critical bodily processes. Cherries are also a good source of fiber. Plus, they provide B vitamins, manganese, copper, magnesium, and vitamin K.

Eating cherries leads to a boost in antioxidant activity in the body, even after just one-and-a-half servings of tart cherries, commonly known as sour cherries. A clinical study conducted at the University of Michigan found that antioxidants in tart cherries make it into the human bloodstream and boost antioxidant activity. Twelve healthy adults, aged 18 to 25, were randomly assigned to consume either one-and-a-half cups or three cups of frozen tart cherries. After the participants ate the cherries, researchers analyzed their blood and urine and found increased antioxidant activity for up to 12 hours after the consumption of cherries.

The lower the glycemic index of fruits, the better they are in terms of diabetes risks. With a glycemic index of just 22 sweet cherries gets a good score on this scale. For example, they have half the amount of glycemic found in grapes. This makes them a good snack choice for people with diabetes.

Researchers believe that the anthocyanins pigments that provide cherries with their distinctive red coloring help lower cholesterol levels and research by the British Journal of Nutrition indicates that the polyphenol found in cherry juice seems to bring blood pressure down. Just 1 cup (154 grams) of pitted, sweet cherries provides 10% of the DV for potassium, a mineral that is essential for keeping your heart healthy. Potassium is needed to maintain a regular heartbeat and helps remove excess sodium from your body, regulating your blood pressure.

European studies show that tart cherry juice helps its drinkers get a good night’s sleep, and it might even help them to overcome insomnia. Cherries contain a chemical called melatonin which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. A study in 20 people showed that those who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for 7 days experienced significant increases in melatonin levels, sleep duration, and sleep quality, compared to a placebo. Similarly, a 2-week study in older adults with insomnia found that drinking 1 cup of tart cherry juice before bed increased sleep time by 84 minutes!

The Alzheimer’s Association notes that the antioxidants cherries contain helps to boost memory. If they improve memory, maybe they could also slow down the disease’s progress.

Cherries are rich in the antioxidant compounds that guard the body against the damage free radicals (or oxidants) cause. Preliminary research suggests that the antioxidants in cherries could help in arthritis treatments. Since these findings come from experiments on animals, more research is being done with humans. The high antioxidant levels found in cherries enable to the body to resist the free radicals that power the aging process. Research suggests that a daily glass of tart cherry juice helps your skin retain its freshness.

Cherries can decrease uric acid levels in your body. Gout suffers who ate cherries for a couple of days reduced their risks of a gout attack by a third. A study of 10 women found that eating 2 servings (10 ounces or 280 grams) of sweet cherries after an overnight fast lowered levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) and significantly reduced uric acid levels 5 hours after consumption.  Another study of 633 people with gout demonstrated that those who ate fresh cherries over 2 days had 35% fewer gout attacks than those who did not consume the fruit.

Additionally, the study revealed that when cherry intake was combined with the gout medication allopurinol, gout attacks were 75% less likely than during periods when neither cherries or allopurinol were consumed.

The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition investigated if substances found in tart cherry juice help to reduce muscle pains and soreness. Their study indicates that tart cherry juice drinkers recover faster from muscle pains. A study in 27 endurance runners demonstrated that those who consumed 480 mg of powdered tart cherries daily for 10 days before a half-marathon averaged 13% faster race times and experienced less muscle soreness than a placebo group

How to Buy

Cherries should look shiny and feel firm and plump, not wrinkly or bruised. Sour cherries are naturally softer than sweet ones, and that cherries at the farmers’ market tend to be hand-picked and more fragile than commercially grown ones.

Sour cherry season is July into August.

Sweet cherry season is a little longer and goes in waves. California’s season comes first, producing the ones you see at supermarkets starting around May. As that supply peters out in June, sweet cherries from the Northwest start coming in. Typically,  you will continue to see them through August.

Bing is by far the predominant sweet cherry. It’s firm, dark red, sweet, and juicy.

Skeena, a large, nearly black cherry; Lapin, which is quite firm and sweet; and the heart-shaped Sweetheart.

Rainier cherries, a fleeting mid-season variety, have distinct pink-tinged yellow skins and very sweet, yellow-colored flesh.

Montmorency is the most common of the sour cherries. It’s bright red like a Twizzler, softer, and more tender-skinned than any of the sweet cherries.

Remember: only a tiny fraction of sour cherries are sold fresh. The rest are turned into juice and other products.

How to Store

Cherries like to be cold.  Put them in the fridge, unwashed, and keep them dry. If you have room,  it is suggested that you store them in layers between paper towels.

Cherries will keep well for at least a week in the fridge. They freeze well, too. Rinse, pat dry, and freeze them in an airtight container. You can do this keeping the stems and pits intact, but you might find it more convenient later on if you pit them first.

How to Cook

Here are some ways to incorporate cherries into your diet:

  • Enjoy them organic and fresh in the summer.
  • Pair dried cherries with dark chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut flakes, and salted almonds for homemade trail mix.
  • Make a cherry compote out of frozen tart or sweet cherries and spoon on yogurt, oatmeal, or chia pudding.
  • Add halved, pitted cherries to a fruit salad.
  • Incorporate dried cherries into baked goods.
  • Add a bit of tart cherry juice to sparkling water and top with a lemon wedge.
  • Add fresh or cooked cherries to ice cream, pies, crumbles, and other desserts.
  • Make a homemade cherry barbecue sauce to use with meat or poultry dishes.
  • Make cherry salsa with diced cherries and fresh herbs like basil to serve alongside savory meals.
  • Add frozen cherries to your favorite smoothie.

Summer Buzz Fruit Salad

Taste of Home

6 Servings



  • 2 cups watermelon balls
  • 2 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup cubed English cucumber
  • 1/2 cup microgreens or torn mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest



Combine the first 7 ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Drizzle over salad; toss.

Fooundations of Nutrition, Ed Bauman and Jodi Friendlander,


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