Many people prefer artificial sweeteners because they add sweetness to foods and contain a lot less calories than regular sugar. However, the safety of artificial sweeteners (e.g., NutraSweet, Sweet’N Low, etc.) can also be a cause of concern to consumers who aren’t sure how safe these products are to consume.
Artificial Sweeteners and their Uses
According to the specialits, artificial sweeteners are “chemicals or natural compounds that offer the sweetness of sugar without as many calories.” The article further explains that people suffering from diabetes often use artificial sweeteners to help control blood sugar levels.
However, some people fail to realize that consumers still need to examine the overall calorie count and hidden sugars from carbohydrates found in products that contain sugar substitutes, because these extra calories and sugars can contribute to higher blood sugar levels and weight gain.
The Safety of Artificial Sweeteners
There are a lot of news stories and health articles cautioning consumers about the safety of artificial sweeteners. Conversely, there are other articles that say sugar substitutes are just as safe as regular sugar when used in moderation. With so much conflicting information, it’s no wonder people are confused!
While all artificial sweeteners have been subjected to debate at one time or another, aspartame (found in products like NutraSweet) seem to be the most commonly discussed.
Aspartame does carry a documented threat to people suffering from the rare hereditary condition known as phenylketonuria (PKU). As such, products which contain aspartame are required to include a warning label to consumers who have this condition, as aspartame is not safe for them to consume.
Another sugar substitute, saccharin (found in Sweet’N Low) was also a subject of debate at one time. According to Health Central, saccharin was almost banned from use in 1977 because of its expected link to bladder cancer. However, there was no conclusive evidence found that this sweetener was a cause for concern to consumers.
In addition to aspartame and saccharin, other sugar substitutes have all been linked to health problems such as migraines, irritability, nervousness, central nervous disorders, fibromyalgia, nausea, skin rashes, and more. However, there just hasn’t been enough scientific evidence to prove these claims, and artificial sweeteners remain on the market and thought generally safe to consume in moderation.
Until more research has been done to refute or prove that sugar substitutes cause health concerns, it’s up to consumers to choose food and beverages wisely. Even though artificial sweeteners might seem like the healthier choice, you should still strive to limit your intake of products containing these sweeteners just as you would with products that have natural sugars.