Artificial Sweeteners: Which are Safe and Which are Not?
Alright, so Nutrition 101 class teaches that ingesting sugar increases your desire for sugar. This means that the more sugary foods you eat, the more your body will crave. Many people have, as a result of this, switched to artificial sweeteners. There are so many things out there (Stevia, Nectresse, Splenda, Truvia, Agave, etc.) that it can be overwhelming to decide what to purchase and what to put in your body.
To make grocery shopping a little easier, I have compiled the following chart. I hope it helps!
|Aspartame||Low in calories (or 0 calories)||Chemically created; confliction evidence regarding safety; though low in calories (or containing zero calories)
, some studies have shown that people who consume diet soda (with aspartame) weigh more than those who don’t
|Agave||Low glycemic index||Usually 70-80% fructose (that’s more than what is found in high-fructose corn syrup) radically increases insulin levels; produced with the following chemicals: activated charcoal, cationic and ionic resins, sulfuric acid, dicalite, clarimex, insulin enzymes, and fructozyme; the fructose in agave is linked, largely, to America’s obesity epidemic|
|Sucralose (Splenda)||0 calories||Processed using chlorine|
|High Fructose Corn Syrup||Relatively cheap to produce||Significantly linked to obesity and weight gain; linked to type-2 diabetes; linked to hypertension; linked to liver damage; often containing high levels of mercury|
|Stevia||Generally accepted as the “safest” sweetner; not related to sugar, but is extracted from plants, naturally; some studies have shown this can enhance glucose tolerance||300x sweeter than sugar; sometimes a licorice-like aftertaste|
|Truvia||Made in part from Stevia, this is generally accepted as being pretty safe (side note: Coca Cola and Cargill now use this product)||Made from Stevia, combined with other flavors—so it is not as natural as Stevia|
|Sugar alcohols (Xylitol, Sorbitol, and Erythritol)||Natural sweeteners made from fermentation process of corn or sugar cane; lower in calories than pure sugar and honey (but more than Stevia); found to prevent catives||Consuming too much of these sweeteners can cause gastrointestinal problems|
|Organic, Raw Honey||Contains cancer-defending antioxidants; (side note: honey can also be used to help skin heal with cuts, scrapes, and burns); low in the glycemic index (meaning if you add it to tea you won’t experience a drop in blood sugar—causing lower energy)||Contains higher fructose levels than other sweenters like Truvia and Stevia|
|Molasses||Contains iron, potassium, and calcium (so it’s quite nutritionally dense)||It’s also quite calorie-dense—and not recommended for those with diabetes|
Summary: Agave is the most overlooked danger, in my opinion. It should be avoided, along with Aspartame, Sucralose, and HFCS. Stevia is my favorite to cook and bake with (given that it is of natural composition, and has no major side effects). In the end, I try to use fruit purees with baking, and use artificial sweeteners sparingly.