The truth behind sweeteners, are they really good for us?

We all need some sort of sweetness in our lives and if you’re looking to get your daily sugar fix it’s best to avoid the processed sweeteners and look for natural alternatives, such as honey, maple syrup, date sugar, stevia and brown rice syrup. (3)

Natural sweeteners are added to food and drinks and generally are low in calories and fructose, yet still, add a touch of sweetness. (3)

Artificial sweeteners are also low in calories but formulated in laboratories using chemicals which used to sweeten food and drinks. They can be difficult to identify because they are hidden behind E numbers or made up names in the ingredient deck and so can be confusing as to whether they’re good for us. (1)

It is amazing to find where artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose, xylitol and NutraSweet. (2)  are most used but aa a general rule, they are most likely to be found in processed and pre-packed foods. Did you know the following contain artificial sweeteners?

  • Yoghurt
  • Baked good
  • Chewing gum
  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Processed snack foods
  • Children’s chewable vitamins
  • Breakfast cereals 

Are sweeteners good for us?

Sweeteners may be safe, but the real question being, are they healthy? Although sweeteners flavour food, artificial sweeteners may also have a stimulating effect on the appetite, which may result in weight gain.

Sweeteners can be of benefit to those who suffer from diabetes because favourite foods can still be enjoyed whilst taking care of blood sugar levels. However, it’s still crucial to check with the doctor, to make sure the sweeteners are suitable.

In the UK, sweeteners undergo a safety assessment test to ensure that they do not cause harm, and scientific evidence is scrutinised and approved by European Food Safety Authority to give assurance on the credibility of the claims made. Sweeteners are safe enough to consume as long as they are a part of a balanced diet. (1)

 There are no major concerns about the sweeteners that are available here in the UK, but it is important to remember each sweetener is very different in terms of the effects it can have, the best advice is to try to use natural sweeteners if possible, but if you have to opt for artificial sweeteners just check they are suitable for you.

 

References

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/the-truth-about-artificial-sweeteners.aspx
  2. https://draxe.com/artificial-sweeteners/
  3. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-natural-sweeteners