Don’t we all want to have our cake and eat it too? Or, drink a soda that tastes like the real thing but has zero calories and guilt? Oddly enough, you can, but at what cost?
Artificial or high-intensity sweeteners are a synthetically produced sweetening agents used to provide a sweet taste to foods and beverages, whereas sugar substitutes are produced by nature.
The FDA has approved 6 high-intensity sweeteners permitted for the use in food.
You can find many of these artificial sweeteners in many foods and beverages labeled “sugar-free” or “diet” including baked goods, candy, canned and jarred goods, beverages and much more. However, with good, comes bad and it’s important to recognize the difference between the good sweeteners and bad sweeteners, if there really is such a thing?
While the use of non-nutritive sweeteners helps reduce the intake of sugar and added sugars, which results in less calories consumed, there are many factors to take in when consuming any amount of sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. Just because you drink a diet soda doesn’t mean you can have that slice of cake for dessert!
The overuse of these types of sweeteners can also make you crave more sweets, give you the feeling of not being “full” or satisfied (causing you to eat more), and make poor food choices; all resulting in weight gain.
Some studies have even stated that consuming large quantities of artificial sweeteners can have multiple negative side effects on the body as well as become addicted, just like sugar!
Click HERE to learn more about different side effects artificial sweeteners have on the body.
Sugar alcohols, on the other hand, are derived from plant products such as fruits and berries. These types of sweeteners are commonly known as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, erythritol and isomalt. Sugar alcohols are not well absorbed by the body and many even have a laxative effect.
It is common for many of us, especially diabetics, to mistakingly think that foods labeled "sugar-free" or "no sugar added" will have little to no affect on blood glucose levels, which in fact is the opposite. Joslin Diabetics Center states "foods containing these sugar alcohols need to have their calorie and carbohydrate contents accounted for in your overall meal plan, as it is carbohydrate that raises blood glucose levels. Since many people typically overeat "sugar free" or "no sugar added" foods, their blood glucose may be significantly elevated."
Erythritol, on the other hand, is a sugar alcohol that is non-caloric, does not effect blood sugar, does not cause tooth decay, and is partially absorbed by the body the rest being flushed out through urine and feces.
Just like it’s counterpart, sugar, consuming foods and beverages with artificial sweeteners, sugar substitutes and sugar alcohols should be consumed in moderation. Not everything you consume needs to be sweet! Read food labels, especially the ingredients, listen to your body and enjoy your sugar-free treats in moderation. Better yet, choose naturally sweetened foods like fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth!