Artificial Sweeteners

What is considered an artificial sweetener?  Artificial sweeteners impose a sweet taste but usually do so without adding extra calories.  These sweeteners are also much stronger, allowing a person to use only a small amount.  For instance, stevia is about 300 times sweeter compared to table sugar.  Other types of artificial sweeteners include saccharin (about 600 times sweeter), sucralose (found in splenda ~ about 400 times sweeter), aspartame (found in nutrasweet), cyclamate (found in sweet-n-low), and acesulfame-K or acesulfame-potassium.

Before you choose to use artificial sweeteners, consider both the benefits and the risks, as well as how they compare to other types of sugar (refer to post on alternatives to white sugar). Many of these artificial sweeteners have led to cancer in animal studies or chronic respiratory disease, as well as headaches (or migraines), hypersensitivity, immunologic or neurological disorders, seizures, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  Perhaps in moderation these artificial sweetners may not pose a problem; however, they are being used in the food industry in a vast supply of food and beverages leading individuals to consume high amounts. Many of these sweeteners are used in diet-related soft drinks or foods marketed as “sugar free” or “low in sugar,” as well as being used to replace corn syrup in certain foods.  Some claims have also shown that artificial sweeteners increase your appetite since it may not satisfy your body the same as a natural sweetner. You may consume more to compensate or your appetite may increase the following day.

Remeber to choose natural sweeteners in their raw form (ex. honey) or satisfy a sweet craving with a piece of fresh fruit.