Artificial sweeteners – Are they really good?
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes that are used instead of regular table sugar (sucrose). They may also be derived from naturally occurring substances such as herbs or sugar itself. Artificial sweeteners are also known as intense sweeteners because they are many times sweeter than sugar.
Uses of Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are widely used in processed foods, including:
• Soft drinks, powdered drink mixes, and other beverages
• Baked goods
• Canned foods
• Jams and jellies
• Dairy products
Artificial sweeteners are popular for home use as well. Some can even be used in baking or cooking.
FDA has approved six artificial sweeteners for use: aspartame, sucrose, neotame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), saccharin, and advantame. Two plant-based, high-intensity sweeteners: Stevia and extracts from monk fruit.
A doctor or dietician should be consulted before adding these sugar alternatives to a regular diet to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks.
Pros and cons of using artificial sweeteners:
1. Artificial sweeteners add the sweetness to food the way natural sugar does.
2. Compared to real sugar, artificial sweeteners have negligible calories, therefore claimed to have “No Calories” on the package.
3. Before getting into a weight-loss diet, an individual can be familiarized to consumption of sugary foods and beverages. Stopping them altogether is difficult to many. The sweeteners help people slowly wean off from consuming real sugar.
4. One benefit that makes artificial sweeteners famous is the low impact to the blood sugar unlike natural sugar does. This makes it a very useful tool in the management of diabetes.
5. It’s possible to use artificial sweeteners in many ways. For example, it might be added to coffee or can be used while baking cakes, making sweets.
6. As well, to enjoy better oral health, one may find that choosing artificial sweeteners over real sugar helps to avoid tooth decay.
7. Improving food appearance, color, taste, and texture are a few other benefits of artificial sweeteners.
1. Most of the artificial sweeteners, with the exception of sugar alcohols and stevia, are synthetic chemicals (not found in nature). Our body is unable to absorb them.
2. Artificial sweeteners may also lead to other cravings. Research has shown that the brain reacts the same way to artificial sweeteners that it does with sugary sweets. Consuming them often may lead to an increased desire for high-calorie foods.
3. Some people may experience side effects like headache, nausea, dizziness, bloating etc.