Are Artificial Sweeteners Better Than Sugar?

It can get pretty frustrating hearing so many contradicting messages about which foods are good and which are bad. A product could easily be marketed as being super-healthy when it is, in fact, loaded with artificial sweeteners. That’s just the way marketing is, and you education is key on understanding the real facts behind the marketing hype. Staying in contact with health professionals can help keep one informed and on track. This blog’s purpose is to clarify some misconceptions about non-caloric artificial sweeteners. Firstly, despite them being advertised as being a “healthy alternative to sugar”, they are far from it. Some of the popular artificial sweeteners on the market today include Splenda (sucralose), Nutrasweet (aspartame), Neotame (8,000 times sweeter than sugar), and others with ingredients including Saccharine, Acesulfame Potassium. Then there are the various forms of actual sugar such as high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, maltodextrin, sucrose, and glucose. They are found in abundance in almost all ‘diet’ drinks, ‘lite’ yogurts, ice creams, ‘low carb’ products, and just about every ‘reduced sugar’ product. Just look on the ingredients list of some products in your home and you will probably see one or more of those names. Splenda is one of the worst offenders because it is marketed so strongly as being “healthy”, saying it is made from real sugar, when in fact it is still an artificial substance. Splenda is a chemically modified substance where chlorine is added to the chemical structure, making it more similar to a chlorinated pesticide than something we should be eating or drinking! The answer to whether artificial sweeteners are better or worse than sugar or corn syrups etc. is neither because it’s a battle between two evils. The problem with sugar and the corn syrups, dextrose, fructose, etc., is they are an excess of empty calories, will spike blood sugar resulting in an insulin surge that will promote fat gain, and will stimulate appetite further. Think about it, sugar stimulates appetite; the more you have the more you want. The artificial sweeteners may save on calories but research strongly suggests they increase appetite for something sweet elsewhere, making you eat more during the rest of the day. Not to mention many of these ingredients have been linked to cancer risks. Our bodies were not meant to ingest these nasty chemicals but, unfortunately, a very large percentage of us ingest them on a daily basis. Next blog will suggest some healthy alternatives to using artificial sweeteners.