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Monday, 08 April 2013 09:11

Artificial Sweeteners: How much is a Good Deal

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Smart use of artificial sweetener for potential health benefits…

artificial-sweetenersEmphasis on low calorie diet turns people to search sugar-free formula. However, human with in-built natural tendency of “sweet tooth” always run to explore sugary alternatives. This booms the concept of artificial sweetener, a non-caloric substitute to cut an excess sugar from the diet.

The market deals common brands, including Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet and Sweet ‘N’ Low. Market is flooded with food and beverages containing artificial sweetener as a familiar ingredient.

Artificial sweeteners: An overview

Mayo Clinic describes artificial sweeteners as synthetic sugar substitutes, but may be derived from naturally-occurring substances, including herbs or sugar itself.

Artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than regular sugar. As artificial sweeteners contribute no calories and require in a little amount, it becomes popular option among diet pop people.

Recommended sugar substitutes for common use are…

  • Saccharin
  • Aspartame
  • Sucralose
  • Neotame
  • Acesulfame potassium

USFDA, the agency regulating food safety, approve all above mentioned artificial sweeteners for consumer use. However, FDA determines the acceptable daily intake of artificial sweetener to use them in moderation.

Artificial sweeteners: Still a controversial issue

A debate is still going on the effects of artificial sweeteners on the body, as few studies focus a light on the other side of the story.

Pros

  • No calorie formula

A Non-nutritive Feature of artificial sweeteners provides little to no calories but imparts great taste.

  • Wider use

Artificial sweeteners can be used in a wide range of foodstuffs, including diet beverages, chewing gum, jellies, candies, fruit juices, ice-creams and dessert items.

  • Useful in diabetes

American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests a use of artificial sweeteners as an option to curb carving for sweet in diabetes. All above-mentioned sweeteners can be used by a diabetes person. They passed without being digested and provide no calories except aspartame.

However, ADA warns to read the nutritional fact label on food before use, as some of foods still have some calories and carbohydrates.

Cons

  • Weight gain

The concept that consuming artificially sweetened foods, and beverages help in shedding few pounds or preventing unwanted weight gain is somewhat misleading. As an artificial sweetener is a non-calorie should contribute to weight loss, but things go different here.

‘A rise in the percent of the population who are obese coincides with an increase in the widespread use of non-caloric artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (e.g, diet coke), and sucralose (e.g,Pepsi one) in food products.’

                         -A statement from a review published in Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.

A review mentioned few epidemiological studies indicating positive relationship between artificial sweetener use and weight gain.

Possible effect may be attributed to an altered neuronal response to artificial sweetener intake, which can increase food seeking behavior.

  • Cancer risk

According to National Cancer Institute intake of artificial sweeteners like saccharin and cyclamate linked with bladder cancer in laboratory animals. However, findings are not consistent when studies are performed in human.

Lesson to learn

“While they are not magic bullets, smart use of non-nutritive sweeteners could help you reduce added sugars in your diet, therefore lowering the number of calories you eat. Reducing calories could help you attain and maintain a healthy body weight, and thereby lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes,” said Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Stanford University in California, in a press release from American Heart Association.

Further he added that,

“Determining the potential benefits from non-nutritive sweeteners is complicated and depends on where foods or drinks containing them fit within the context of everything you eat during the day,”

Suppose a person compensates non-nutritive sweeteners for caloric drink but reward with high caloric food later in the day; the artificial sweetener is not going to be effective for weight management.

So formula is going to work only if you don’t compensate it with additional calories.

As each sweetener carries its own side effects, it is always good to use them smartly and in moderation.

image credit: fit 

Read 2744 times Last modified on Monday, 08 April 2013 09:35

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