Natural vs. Artificial: Can You Taste the Difference? Activity

3.4 based on 42 ratings
Updated on Jan 3, 2013

You probably know that cane sugar isn't good for you in large doses, but did you know that many artificial sweeteners can't even be processed by your body? Although many opt for artificial sweeteners because they have fewer calories than regular sugar, many studies have found that they can actually be worse for your health. Artificial sweeteners often contain chemicals that trick your body into thinking it's getting real sugar, causing your body to release sugar-digesting enzymes when there's no sugar to digest. These chemicals also have many unhealthy side effects.

Which do you prefer: natural or artificial? Try this sweet little science experiment in which you'll try the real stuff alongside the artificial to see which tastes better, then do a little research to decide which is best for you. Help your child develop a better awareness of the foods she consumes by helping her record the calories, ingredients, and overall nutritional value of each food she tastes and analyze her findings.

What You Need:

  • Real maple syrup
  • Pancake syrup containing high fructose corn syrup
  • Cane sugar
  • Artificial sweetener such as Splenda or Equal
  • Honey
  • Honey flavoring
  • Fresh orange juice
  • Orange juice from concentrate
  • Paper
  • Pencil

What You Do:

  1. Set up the experiment by preparing small samples of each food for tasting, arranging them in sets according to type. For example, place the maple syrup with the pancake syrup, the cane sugar with the Splenda, etc. Keep track of which item is which, but keep it a secret from your child so the taste test is accurate.
  2. Have her taste the items and record her thoughts on each one. Encourage her to answer the following questions: Which sample tastes better? How do the samples differ in taste and appearance? How are they similar? Which do you think is artificial?
  3. Reveal to her the identity of each sample and compare to her predictions. Did she guess right?
  4. Read the ingredients of each sweetener and use the Internet to research how the production methods of natural cane sugar and artificial sweeteners differ. Make sure to also look up any ingredients you don't recognize.
  5. Encourage her to form a conclusion about natural vs. artificial sugar. Which tastes better, and which is better for her health?

Remember: moderation is key! Any sweetener, whether natural or not, is unhealthy in large amounts. Keep sugar to a minimum, and your body will thank you.

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