Artificial sweeteners and their risks is a controversial subject today in health and wellness circles. And there is a very good reason why this is so. People are scared of sugar and its link to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Is there a good reason for people to be scared of artificial sweeteners and their risks? Yes, and with some artificial sweeteners, it is actually scarier than getting fat.
Artificial sweeteners as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) additives
The FDA has classified artificial sweeteners as GRAS thus making these generally acceptable as food additives. However this does not change the fact that these sweeteners are still considered under-researched and under-studied as far as their effects on human health is concerned. Artificial sweeteners include saccharin, aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), sucralose (Splenda), acesulfame potassium, and neotame.
Worst artificial sweeteners
Below are the worst artificial sweeteners and you should avoid them at all cost.
* Sucralose (Splenda)
The following diseases are said to be caused by or worsened by the consumption of aspartame:
- birth defects
- multiple sclerosis
Make sure to check labels and avoid anything that has artificial sweeteners in them, as often as possible. A very popular drink that has aspartame is Diet Coke. It’s ok to enjoy it once in a while, but for daily consumption, consider switching to something healthier like green tea.
Artificial sweeteners may cause weight gain
According to a study presented at the American Diabetes Association, artificial sweeteners have shown to even cause weight gain. This topic has also been reported on ABC News. It’s something to keep in mind, especially if you are heavily ingesting artificial sweeteners (such as diet sodas) for weight loss.
Avoid agave syrup too
While we are on the topic of sweeteners to avoid, you should also avoid agave syrup which is actually worse than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), since it has an even higher fructose content.
Which sweetener should you use?
Stevia, which is a natural herb that has been used as a sweetener for over 1000 years, is the best natural sweetener you can use. Opinions differ on how frequently you should consume stevia, but there is no known side effects of using stevia.
Otherwise, using unprocessed natural honey in moderation is probably the second best sweetener.
Xylitol, which is sugar alcohol, is being used by some people as a sugar alternative. Sugar alcohols do not get completely absorbed into your body and therefore provide less calories than sugar. Compared to pure stevia, xylitol tastes better in baked goods. However keep in mind that xylitol does have calories, and it is actually toxic to some animals including dogs.