Artificial sweeteners may seem like the healthier opinion, but in actuality, it’s unhealthier for your body in the long run. When you can find healthier alternatives to aspartame and learn how to substitute artificial sugar for natural sugars, you can become healthier for the long run.
But always check the labels! Drinking beverages or eating foods that are labeled “no sugar added” doesn’t mean there isn’t sugar in the ingredients already. Look at the nutrition label to read how many grams of sugar are included in a single serving.
What’s in an Artificial Sweetener, Anyways?
• Artificial sweeteners are anything except for table sugar, which is otherwise known as sucrose.
• Artificial sweeteners include Sweet n Low, Splenda, Equal, Sugar Twin, Sunett, Aspartame and Neotame.
• Artificial sweeteners include anything other than sucrose (table sugar), glucose and high fructose corn syrup. Real sugar can go by a lot of names on the label, like agave, rice syrup, corn syrup, and so on.
• Natural sweeteners can be misleading. Many sweeteners are still processed in manufacturing labs and contain added ingredients like harsh chemicals.
• Artificial sweeteners often contain no added calories, fat or sugar grams, but they don’t offer any nutritional content for your body either.
• Studies show that relying on artificial sweeteners can actually enhance your sugar addiction because they have twice the amount of sweetness than real sugar.
Side Effects of Artificial Sweeteners
• Research shows that artificial sweeteners can both cause weight gain and weight loss. It depends on how often you use sweeteners and how many at once you are using. Limit yourself to just one packet of artificial sweetener a day, and you shouldn’t have to worry about gaining weight.
• Research shows that artificial sweeteners cause you to crave calories, especially in the form of sugar.
When you consume artificial sweeteners without digesting real sugar, your body craves the real stuff. As a result, you overeat sugar later on in your day.
• Artificial sweeteners run the risk of causing obesity because it doesn’t satisfy your body’s desire for real, nutritious foods.
• Artificial sweeteners are speculated to cause cancer. A study done in the 1970s showed that saccharin caused cancer in lab rats.
• More than 20 grams of sugar alcohols can cause bloating, diarrhea and gas.
• Studies have shown a connection between low birth weight and consumption of excessive artificial sweeteners during pregnancy.
• A 2005 study showed that aspartame caused leukemia in lab rats.
Healthy Alternatives for Artificial Sweeteners
• Honey, molasses, agave nectar and stevia are some healthy alternatives. Just a little bit of these naturally sourced sugars goes a long way.
• Stevia comes from a plant, and unlike sugar it isn’t off-limits to diabetics. It comes from the leaves, has no calories, and doesn’t affect blood levels.
• Honey is pure in its form contains niacin, protein, vitamin B6, iron and amino acids. It is also free of cholesterol and fat.
• Agave nectar works well as a real sugar for diabetic diets. Aside from being a naturally sweet substance, it is loaded with nutrients and is lower on the glycemic index. It works well in hot beverages and for baking.
The Bottom Line . . .
No doubt sugar is one of the most enjoyable aspects of comfort food and beverages, but both real sugar and artificial sweeteners can do more damage than good when taken in excess. Consume them in moderation, and whenever possible, pick a natural sweetener like honey or agave syrup.