ATLANTA (March 2, 2005) – New research published in the Journal of Food Science indicates that people who use low-calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages have better quality diets. Researchers studied more than 1,000 adults and found that those who incorporated reduced-calorie products consumed more vitamins and minerals such as calcium, fiber, iron and more in their diets. According to lead researcher Dr. Madeleine Sigman-Grant, Ph.D., R.D., with the University of Nevada, “Those using products containing low-calorie sweeteners were more aware of the nutrients they were eating and were more likely to eat leafy green vegetables, fruit and yogurt.” Thus, the researchers found while participants were eating fewer calories overall, they were also eating more healthfully.
Dr. John Foreyt, leading obesity expert and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine notes that the findings are encouraging. “Many people slash calories drastically when trying to lose weight and end up missing out on important vitamins and antioxidants. However, this research demonstrates that people can reduce calories while continuing to have a high quality of diet. An easy way to do this is through the use of products containing low-calorie sweeteners.”
The recently released Dietary guidelines encourage Americans to balance their calories and specifically note, “When it comes to body weight control, it is calories that count — not the proportion of fat, carbohydrates and protein in the diet. Successful and sustainable weight loss and weight maintenance strategies require attention to both sides of the energy balance equation (i.e., caloric intake and energy expenditure).” “Using low-calorie products is an easy way for adults to get in step with the Guidelines,” adds Dr. Foreyt.
Dr. Sigman-Grant used the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) to determine the type of foods and beverages consumed as well as nutrient intake. Researchers evaluated many nutrients including vitamins A, C and E, B-vitamins, iron, calcium, zinc, etc., and found that participants who used reduced-calorie, reduced-sugar products were more likely to consume greater amounts of calcium, have higher intakes of fruits and consume more dark green and yellow vegetables than those using full-sugar products. Those using reduced-calorie foods and beverages were also more likely to read labels for calories, fats and sugars and consumed fewer calories overall.
Although previous research has shown that low-calorie sweeteners and the products containing them can play a beneficial role in weight control, this research is important as it is the first study to show that people who use reduced-calorie products in their diets have an overall healthier diet. Previous studies conducted by Blackburn et. al., and Reben et., al., and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that products containing low-calorie sweeteners were not only helpful in weight loss but also played a positive role in weight maintenance.
“When it comes to weight management it’s calories that count. The take-home message from this research is that people can control calories through the use of light products while getting important vitamins and minerals that many miss when reducing calories, “ added Dr. Sigman-Grant.