Perhaps you have seen the new sweetener Nectresse, brought to you by McNeil Nutritionals, the makers of Splenda.
According to the Nectresse for Healthcare Professionals website, Nectresse is a blend of natural sweeteners “featuring” monkfruit extract, is 100% natural with zero calories per serving, and has the “rich, sweet taste of sugar”.
Is this really a better alternative than any of the other preexisting artificial sweeteners? Let’s break down the Nectresse claims:
- Zero-calories: yes, it has zero calories – a one packet serving (2.4 g) basically has no nutrition in it at all
- Blend of natural sweeteners: well, that’s debatable – the ingredients include erythritol (corn-derived sugar alcohol, most corn in the US is genetically modified unless otherwise stated or organic, which this isn’t), sugar (just a little, but still, likely from GM sugar beets), monk fruit extract (more on that next), and molasses (more sugar)
- 100% natural: The four ingredients in the ingredient list do occur in nature, but keep in mind that in nutrition, “Natural Means Nothing” – this not a legally definable or enforceable term
- Rich, sweet taste of sugar: according to monkfruit.org, powdered monkfruit is 150-200 times more sweet than sugar, so, in a fashion similar to that of stevia, a little bit goes a long way
So is this a better option for you than sugar? Well, it depends what you are after.
- If you are looking for a no-calorie sweetener, then it is certainly lower in calories than sugar
- If you have a lot of spare cash on hand, this is an expensive way to sweeten your drinks – I paid almost $5 for a box of 40 Nectresse packets
- If you are trying to avoid genetically modified ingredients, this isn’t going to fly
- If you are looking for fiber from a fruit-derived sweetener, this is not your product – since so little is used, it has no fiber
If you are looking for your fiber needs in a packet, you are barking up the wrong tree.
Stick to whole foods for your fiber, and when possible, choose GM-free ingredients to sweeten your foods.