Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are increasingly used in many food items and beverages. Nowadays, several sugar substitutes are in use. However, normal people aren’t always aware of whether artificial sweeteners are good or bad for their health. Let’s try to understand the various benefits and side effects of natural sweeteners to make an informed choice.
One of the major problems these days is obesity and lifestyle diseases. There are a lot of people who are trying to reduce their sugar consumption because of health-related complications like diabetes and heart disease. They have a lot of options in the form of artificial sweeteners. Such products are usually marketed as “sugar-free” or “diet,” including soft drinks like diet soda. What are artificial sweeteners, and what role do they play in your diet?
Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes
Sugar substitutes have become very popular as sweeteners instead of normal table sugar or sucrose. Artificial sweeteners are just one of the many healthy sugar substitutes. Although some sweeteners even after processing are called natural. One of the finest examples is Stevia. Similarly, some sweeteners are produced from natural substances, such as sucralose, derived from sugar.
What are Natural sweeteners?
These are sugar substitutes that are known as healthy sugar substitutes. Interestingly, even these are produced through processing and refining. If you are looking for the safest artificial sweetener or the healthiest sweetener, the following natural sweeteners are considered safe by the FDA:
Fruit juices and nectars
An artificial sweetener is usually many times sweeter than sugar and, therefore, is also known as an intense sweetener. It’s a synthetically manufactured sugar substitute derived from naturally occurring substances, such as herbs or sugar. If you are looking for a healthy sweetener, they fit the bill because they add virtually zero calories to your diet. However, you should be careful and use them in small quantities compared to the sugar you normally use.
What is the use of an artificial sweetener?
Artificial sweeteners are widely used in the processed food industries. Some of the areas where they find heavy uses are:
Soft drinks, Diet Cola, and other beverages
Jams and jellies
Of late, people have included sweeteners for home use too. However, these sweeteners aren’t suitable for traditional recipes because, unlike sugar, artificial sweeteners don’t provide volume. It’s better to check the labels on artificial sweeteners before choosing them for home use. Moreover, a few artificial sweeteners also leave an aftertaste in the mouth. Therefore, choose a suitable alternative or a combination of two artificial sweeteners to make it more appealing.
What are the health benefits of the safest artificial sweetener?
The consumption of natural sugar in excessive quantity isn’t good for health. It’s also harmful to teeth and cavities. However, you can always choose the safest artificial sweetener, which is good in the following ways:
Such sweeteners have virtually zero calories. Comparing them with real sugar, we find that a teaspoon of sugar has approximately 16 calories, and a can of cola contains about 10 teaspoons. Therefore, with a single can of cola, you will be gaining 160 calories. Thankfully, by choosing an artificial sweetener, you can prevent weight gain. However, their effectiveness for long-term weight loss has not been proven yet.
Opting for sugar substitutes makes a lot of sense, especially if you have diabetes. Natural sugar is a carbohydrate, but sweeteners don’t come under that category. Therefore, they don’t raise blood sugar levels.
Do artificial sweeteners have Side Effects?
There has been a lot of research by a scientist on the side effects of sweeteners. Some strong critics claim they cause various health issues, such as cancer. In the 1970s, a research paper linked artificial sweetener saccharin to bladder cancer. That is why saccharin once carried a mandatory health warning saying its continued use may harm your health.
However, the National Cancer Institute found no scientific evidence to prove that such sweeteners are responsible for ailments like cancer. Other research proved that sugar substitutes are generally safe if taken in limited quantities, resulting in the dropping of the warning label for saccharin.