Sugar VS Artificial Sweetener: Side Effects Comparison

How do the side effects of “artificial sweeteners” compare to the side effects of eating sugar?

Recent studies show Americans average 22 teaspoons (352 calories) of sugar (sucrose) a day, leading to many serious health problems.

Respected health organizations all around the world consistently speak out about how our modern refined high glycemic diets, loaded with sugar, lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and more. 

But even though we’re warned, that sweet taste seems to be addictive. 

So what are your options? Must you give up sweets altogether or could “artificial sweeteners” possibly be considered a healthy alternative?

The Side Effects of “Artificial” Sweeteners 

To begin with, the term “artificial” sweetener is NOT accurate. Just like sucrose, most of these sweeteners come from natural plant sources and are even less processed than highly-refined “natural” table sugar.

However the FDA requires that they be called “artificial” sweeteners, which gives them an undeserved negative image. Who influenced this decision – the powerful sugar industry? We’ll probably never know. 

The critics of “artificial sweeteners” claim they cause health problems, including cancer. But once again, in reality, who are these critics?

According to the National Cancer Institute and many respected health agencies around the world, there’s no valid evidence that any US approved “artificial sweetener” causes any major health problem.

And numerous valid peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown that the “artificial sweeteners” listed below are safe, even for pregnant women: 

•  Acesulfame K (Sunett, Sweet One) is 200 times sweeter than sugar, can be used in baking and its safety is backed by over 90 studies.

•  Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), made from two natural amino acids, is 160–220 times sweeter than sugar. Numerous studies show it to be safe except for people with a rare disorder, phenylketonuria (PKU). 

•  Neotame is 7,000–13,000 times sweeter than sugar and is the most recently approved sweetener. It’s made by NutraSweet, but is metabolized differently and is not required to carry the PKU warning. 

•  Saccharin (Sweet ’N Low, Sugar Twin) is 200–700 times sweeter than sugar. It was nearly banned in the 70s based on studies linking it to bladder cancer in rats. But was then found to be safe for humans. 

•  Sucralose (Splenda) is made from sugar, but is 600 times sweeter and can be used in baking and cooking as a spoon-for-spoon sugar substitute.

Another natural-sourced refined non-caloric sweetener comes from the Stevia plant. Although Stevia is not FDA approved, so it hasn’t undergone much research, it can be called a dietary herbal supplement:

•  Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It has a long history of use in South America and has been the main choice of non-caloric sweetener in Japan since the mid-70s, with no known side effects.

Health Benefits of “Artificial Sweeteners”

While it’s vitally important to curb your taste for sweets, in the meantime, artificial sweeteners have many health advantages over sucrose. 

And since they’re 160 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar, you need only a tiny fraction to get the same sweet taste. Plus, they’re low-glycemic and virtually calorie-free. Here are some of the health advantages: 

1. Lowers your calories for weight management. Excess weight has been shown to contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and many other major health problems. Artificial sweeteners can help you to reduce calories, lose weight and keep it off. 

2. Helps control blood sugar to prevent diabetes. Type 2 diabetes and out-of-control blood sugar are becoming epidemic all over the world. And unlike sucrose, artificial sweeteners don't raise blood sugar levels. 

3. Reduces risk of diabetes-related heart disease. Strokes and heart attacks are prevalent among those with diabetes. As a matter of fact, two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. 

4. Prevents cavities, gum disease and tooth decay. Sugar, unlike artificial sweeteners, contributes to cavities and other dental problems, such as gum infections, which can seriously compromise your health. 

5. Decreases your susceptibility to other diseases. Since sugar has been shown to weaken your immune system and to disrupt your body’s mineral balance, it can lead to a multitude of health problems.

So, what’s the bottom line? 

All the valid research shows that, compared to the side effects of sugar, “artificial” sweeteners side effects are negligible to non-existent.

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