Food

Artificial Sweeteners – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You want it sweet but you don’t want the extra calories that come with the real deal so you device a way to get the sweetness without piling on the weight – enter artificial sweeteners, the seemingly great solution and cheat method for eating something sweet and yet saving on the calories. But all artificial sweeteners are not made equally. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just downright ugly. What were trying to say is that some of them are made from natural ingredients so you’re not poisoning yourself when you replace your sugar with them. Some are a mix and if you use them in moderation, you probably will be fine. And so are just plain poison that could eventually cause more harm than good in your body. So how to do you know which artificial sweetener to buy and use in a world where you have way too many options? We’ll give you an idea of our favorites, the ones we hate, and the one use once in awhile when we have no choice.

1.Aspartame

Aspartame is one of the oldest existing artificial sweeteners and has been around for years. In fact, it was created in 1965 and was approved for human use in 1981. Most of us probably grow up around Equal and might remember the aftertaste that comes with it. Some of us probably still use Equal as a sugar substitute. Equal is made of Aspartame, just like NutraSweet also is. If you have to use this, please do some in moderation and if you have a disease called phenylketonuria (genetic disorder that makes it hard to break down phenylalanine in the body and cause it to accumulate) do not use aspartame as it can make your condition worse. When aspartame is ingested and processed in the body, it produces phenylalanine which can increase in the body and cause things like seizers and mental disorders. Studies to determine the long-term harmful effects of Aspartame have always been ongoing and most often inconclusive. We say to use lightly and with caution.

2.Saccharin

This is another well-known sugar substitute that has been around for years. If you grew up around Aspartame – Equal and NutraSweet, then you most likely know and have used or seen Sweet’N Low and Sugar Twin. Sweet’N Low is more popular in the USA. Just like aspartame, if you need to use this as an artificial sweetener, please do so in moderation. Saccharin means something that is sugary and can be found in diet carbonated drinks. There are conflicting studies on the long-term use of Saccharin and even Aspartame and some studies have linked it to cancer and other disease. A study in lab rats in the 1970s found an increased incidence of bladder cancer with the use of saccharin and of course, there is no way to replicate this study in humans as that will be unethical but we advise to stay away from this if you can, and if not, maybe used it in moderation. So, word for the wise, if you continue to use them, please do so lightly and not as a substitute for all your sugar.

3.Advantame

You might not be too familiar with Advantame as it’s mostly found in baked products, chewing gums, processed fruit juices, some desserts and some syrups. It’s also found sometimes in drinks like soda. Advantame, very much like Saccharin and Aspartame is designed to reduce the sugar content in foods and keep our sugars level, something that is beneficial for diabetic patients. Advantame like the other two discussed doesn’t have any calories but is about 110 sweeter than Aspartame which means you need just a bit to get a ton of sweetness. It’s one of the newer sweeteners having only just been approved in 2013. Advanatame has no increased risk of causing cancer, doesn’t affect people with phenylketonuria, and is tolerable in patients with diabetes 2. It puts this product on our good or better list.

4.Acesulfame Potassium

Acesulfame Potassium is also known as ace-K and comes in familiar brand such as Swiss Sweet and Sunett which you may have already seen of even used. The good things about this is that it has multi uses so can be used to sweeten food and beverages and is even stable enough to be use as a baking ingredient. Like the other artificial sweeteners on our list, this is a calorie-free substitute for sugar and like the other sweeteners, you should also use it moderately. It was first discovered to have sweetening potentials in 1967 and has since become part of our list of things to sweeten our food. It is about 200 times much sweeter than the common sugar so you don’t need to use too much of it to get the sweet effect you desire. It is slightly less sweet as sucralose and saccharin but still does a good job of making things sweet. It however, has an aftertaste that some individuals don’t like. And as with the other artificial sweeteners, this comes with safety warnings and studies are conflicted as to whether it causes cancer or not so, again, use in moderation if you have to use it.

5.Sucralose

Sucralose comes mostly in the branded name of Splenda and is a more recent addition to the artificial sweetener list. It is seen quite often in processed food as it’s stable in hot and cold food environment so can be used to sweeten your tea as well as be a sugar substitute for your cake, cookies, puddings, tarts, and other baked goods where you need sugar. It is sold in individual packets you can use for your coffer or tea, as well as in cubes that look or pellets that look much like sugar. You can also find it in bulk powder that looks like coarse but fluffy sugar that can be used for baking or making sweet goods – hot or cold. Sucralose is also non-caloric meaning that it doesn’t have any calories that can add to weight gain and doesn’t increase your sugar in case of diabetes so it’s a safe sugar substitute for someone who needs to monitor their sugar. Other names that you can find Sucralose under include Zercal, Sukrana, and Nevella but Splenda is by far the most popular one. It is mostly accepted as being one of the safest artificial sweeteners in the market so we’ll rate it under our “good” one that you can use in moderation. It is mostly safe and studies in animals suggest that it’s possible that it reduces the good bacterial in our stomach since it’s not really digested and mostly leaves our body undigested, however at this time, there is no link any more serious side effects.

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