Friday, June 14, 2013

Sweet but not so natural....the story of artificial sweeteners

Do you recognize any of the following words:
  • Acesuflame K
  • Aspartame
  • Neotame 
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose

Maybe you know them better by the name used in the food you eat and beverages you drink:
  • Acesuflame K - sold as Sunett, Sweet One, and Sweet & Safe
  • Aspartame - sold as Nutrasweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin
  • Neotame - not marketed under any brand name yet.  It is new.
  • Saccharin - sold as Splenda
  • Sucralose - sold as Splenda
In doing my research to better understand sweeteners I learned that there is a great deal of controversy around the topic of artificial sweeteners.  But there are some irrefrutable facts.  To begin with all artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than natural sweeteners.  The comparison is usually made with sugar.  If we look at aspartame for example, we find out that it is 200 times sweeter than sugar.  Aspartame does have calories, as do all the artificial sweeteners, but because it is so sweet, very little is needed.  Consequently that can of diet soda has no calorie count.    

Here's the break down of how much sweeter artifical sweeteners are than sugar:
  • Acesuflame K = 200X 
  • Aspartame = 200X
  • Neotame = 7,000 - 13,000X
  •  Sucralose/Saccharin = 200X                                                                                                    
The human body does not metabolize artificial sweeteners, so no calories are absorbed when consumed.  This brings us to the question of whether or not artificial sweeteners are harmful to the human body.  There is no conclusive information availabe on the side effects to human by artificial sweeteners.  While studies on animals indicate negative side effects, these don't show up in humans.  Individual complaints are anecdotal, and include headache, fatique, rashes, weight gain, nausea, to name a few. has more information on the pros and cons of artificial sweeteners.

Like anything else that we consume, it is best to let moderation be your watch word.  In the end, natural is always better.  So be mindful, and remember, there are many ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

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