Diane May Nutrition Blog

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What To Know About Artificial Sweeteners

July 15th, 2023

In the last few months there have been new insight into the safety and efficacy  of artificial sweeteners. In March, the journal Nature published and associaltion between cardiovascular risk and erythritol consumption. In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised that artificial sweeteners should not be used for weight loss. This month WHO released a new assessment of the hazards and potential risks associated with Aspertame. So what does this mean and should you use artificial sweeteners? The short answer in my opinion is no. Lets start with erythritol. Erythritol is is a form of carbohydrate called a sugar alcohol that is naturally occuring in some foods. The erythritol in the study is the man made form used in sugar free foods and drinks ans well as being mixed with other artificial sweeteners like aspertame, stevia, monkfruit and keto products. Erythritol  absorbs quickly into our intestines and we excrete this substance through our urine. In the study, consumption of erythritol was linked to blood clotting, stroke, heart attack and death. “The degree of risk was not modest,” said lead study author Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. People with existing risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, were twice as likely to experience a heart attack or stroke if they had the highest levels of erythritol in their blood, according to the study. These results suggest that consuming erythritol can increase blood clot formation. This, in turn, could increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Given the pabundance of erythritol in artificially sweetened foods, further safety studies of the health risks of erythritol are warranted.

In regard to the statement from WHO regarding  not using artificial sweeteners for weight loss, we have known for a long time that artificial sweetners can be up to  1000x sweeter than regular sugar and trigger cravings and larger portions, which in the long term, lead to weight gain. “The recommendation is based on the findings of a systematic review of the available evidence which suggests that use of NSS  (non sugar sweeteners) does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children. Results of the review also suggest that there may be potential undesirable effects from long-term use of NSS, such as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults. Replacing free sugars with NSS does not help with weight control in the long term. People need to consider other ways to reduce free sugars intake, such as consuming food with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit, or unsweetened food and beverages,” says Francesco Branca, WHO Director for Nutrition and Food Safety. “NSS are not essential dietary factors and have no nutritional value. People should reduce the sweetness of the diet altogether, starting early in life, to improve their health”. 

On to Aspertame. Although approved almost two decades ago, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Citing “limited evidence” for carcinogenicity in humans, IARC classified aspartame as possibly carcinogenic to humans (IARC Group 2B) and JECFA reaffirmed the acceptable daily intake of 40 mg/kg body weight.  Aspartame (for example NutraSweet , Splenda, Sweet and Low and Equal) is a non nutritive sweetener, a chemical combination of two amino acids and methanol, that has been around since the 70’s. It is 200x sweeter than table sugar. in 2012, The American Jounal of Clinical Nutrition published a study observed a positive association between diet soda and total aspartame intake and risks of NHL and multiple myeloma in men and leukemia in both men and women. A higher consumption of regular sugar-sweetened soda was associated with higher risk of NHL and multiple myeloma in men but not in women. There have been numerous studies showing possible and real health risks associated with artifical sweeteners and negative health outcomes. 

At the end of the day, it is a personal choice to remove or continue to consume artificial sweeteners. But knowledge is power, and putting these chemicals in your body certainly put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer. Artificial sweeteners are also linked to IBS, migraine, behavioral and developmental issues,  diabetes, and dementia. These sweeteners are a modifiable risk factgor that we can remove from our diet and have a healthier and longer life. The choice is yours to make! If you want to remove artificial sweeteners from your diet, you can get help from a knowlegable RD.

Lemon-Blueberry Nice Cream

Nice cream is for everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions. This dairy- and lactose-free, no-added-sugar version requires only five ingredients, including cold water, and comes together as fast as the blades in your food processor can spin. It’s bright with blueberries and creamy from bananas, making it a simple and easy dessert with a good dose of dietary fiber—how much more can you ask from a delicious frozen summer dessert?

lemon blueberry ice cream
Active Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Servings: 4
          3 medium ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
          ¼ cup lemon juice
          ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
          ¼ cup cold water, as needed
          ¾ cup frozen blueberries 
  1. Place frozen banana slices, lemon juice and vanilla in a food processor. Process until smooth, adding cold water to loosen the mixture, if necessary. Transfer to a bowl; stir in frozen blueberries. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month

  2. To make ahead

Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
98 Calories
1g Fat
25g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Serving Size generous 1/2 cup
Calories 98
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 1g 2%
Total Fat 1g 1%
Vitamin A 71IU 1%
Vitamin C 14mg 16%
Folate 23mcg 6%
Vitamin K 5mcg 4%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Magnesium 26mg 6%
Potassium 349mg 7%

Do You Need Electrolyte Beverages

June 4th, 2023

As we head into summer, hydration is something to keep top of mind as dehydration becomes more of an issue. Everwhere you turn, there are advertisements for electolyte powders and pre workout drinks to “keep you hydrated”. But are they worth it or necessary?  Elecrtolytes are minerals, sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, bicarbonates and phosphate which dissolve into bodily fluids. They are essential for our body to function properly. They are especially important for nerves and muscles, as well as maintaining the pH in our blood, Regulating fluid levels, Supporting blood clotting, building new tissues and nerve signals from the heart, muscle and nerve cells to other cells. When electrolytes are low, it can impair clotting, muscle contractions, acid balance and fluid regulation. If electolytes are high you can develop dizziness, cramps and irregular heartbeat. There are many reasons we can develop an electrolyte imabalance.  Causes include: Sweating, vomiting, diarrhea and fever, chronic respiratory disorders, medications (Cisplatin, diuretics, some antibiotics and steroids) as well as not eating or drinking enough. I am going to focus on sweating. The best sports drink is actually water, but if you have excessive sweating, especially in the heat, Gatorade, pedialyte and powerade are great go to’s, but there are other products on the market. Coconut water, watermelon water, tart cherry juice and powders put in water sich as liquid IV are just a few. It is important to note that most comercial electrolyte drinks (sports drinks) contain more sugar, artifical ingrediants, colors and electrolyte than the average person needs. Reserve those for excessive sweating during prolonged exericise and fluid loss. There are also foods that increase hydration and electrolytes:

  • Banana
  • Dairy
  • Watermelon
  • Chicken
  • Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Dark leafy Greans
  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Tomatoes
  • Fish

Signs of an electrolyte inbalance include:

  • headache
  • Muscle cramps and weakness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Extreme thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Cofusion
  • ABnormal blood pressure
  • Seizure

It is important to note if you suspect an electrolyte imblance, get medical treatment. Consuming a balanced diet, staying well hydrated (but NOT overhydrating), not doing excrercise in extreme heat and keeping balanced sodium (not excessive) intake are all important ways to avoid an electrolyte imbalance. If you are an athlete, elecrolyte drinks may be a beneficail addition to your routine.

Watermelon with Mint Gremolata


This flavor-boosting combo of mint and lime, inspired by the traditional Italian herb-and-garlic gremolata recipe, livens up juicy watermelon. Put a platter out at your next cookout and watch it disappear in an instant.

watermelon with mint gremolata
Prep Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Servings: 6
Yield: 6 cups
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes, plus wedges for serving
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 pounds watermelon, cut into wedges


  1. Place mint, lime zest, brown sugar and salt on a cutting board and chop together until a paste forms. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and whisk in lime juice. Arrange watermelon wedges on a platter and spoon the gremolata over the top. Garnish with more mint and serve with lime wedges, if desired.




Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (22% daily value)


Nutrition Facts (per serving)

48 Calories
0g Fat
12g Carbs
1g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Serving Size 1 cup
Calories 48
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 10g
Added Sugars 2g 4%
Protein 1g 2%
Total Fat 0g 0%
Vitamin A 829IU 17%
Vitamin C 13mg 15%
Folate 8mcg 2%
Sodium 83mg 4%
Calcium 20mg 2%
Iron 1mg 4%
Magnesium 15mg 4%
Potassium 162mg 3%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.