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Once upon a time, marketers claimed that soda was a wholesome family beverage. As scientists discovered the sad truth—too many soft drinks are unhealthy for people young and old—manufacturers came up with sugar substitutions that seemed almost as good as the real thing. Then we learned that these “fixes” cause problems, too. Today food companies are going back to nature to source ingredients and seek healthier alternatives. Here, three makeunders worth sampling.


The Original: Sugar

Sugar makes life sweeter. However, added sugar provides essentially no nutritional value, and Americans eat too much of it. Excess sugar consumption is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, and as national intake has increased, so have obesity levels.

The Replacement: Artificial Sweeteners

These sugar substitutes (e.g., saccharin, aspartame, sucralose) can please your palate with their intense sweetness, but research suggests your brain may remain unsatisfied, anticipating calories that never come—until you scarf down more food.

The New Fix: Mushrooms

MycoTechnology, a biotech company, has developed a process to make low-sugar chocolate with mushroom extract. “It works by adhering to the tongue’s taste receptor sites and blocking your ability to taste the full bitterness of cacao beans, so the chocolate needs less added sugar,” spokesman Josh Hahn explains. You may see this ingredient listed as “natural extract” on chocolate labels. You can buy chocolate bars here.