Anne's wondering about the use of sweeteners: are they really safe to use or not? Some people feel that they are just fine to use and can really help if you are diabetic or are trying to lose weight. Then you hear all the scary stuff that people say on the internet, and you start getting worried. Are sweeteners really causing cancer, brain tumors, behavior problems, and a boat load of other things? What's this new info about sweeteners making you gain weight?
- Sucrose or table sugar.
- One teaspoon contains 15 calories, or 4 calories per gram
- Fructose. Honey
- 1.7 times sweeter than sucrose, so you can use less of it to obtain the same sweetness level
- Sugar Alcohols. Mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol (look for other "__ol" sugars)
- 1.5 - 3 calories per gram
- 25-100% sweeter than sugar
- Slower to digest which results in a lower glycemic response
- Not completely absorbed, resulting in abdominal gas and diarrhea in larger quantities
- Does not cause dental cavities
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Made from corn starch and is a glucose/fructose blend.
- Agave. 1.5 times sweeter than sugar.
- 2 tsp counts as 1/2 a grain exchange in the diabetic exchanges
- Aspartame (Nutra Sweet, Equal) ADI=50 mg/kg body wt (18-19 cans diet cola*)
- 160-220 times sweeter than sugar
- Not heat or shelf stable, not used in cooking
- FDA approved for moderate use during pregnancy
- Not for use by anyone with PKU (phenylketonuria)
- Saccharin (Sweet 'n Low) ADI=5 mg/kg (9-12 mini packets*)
- 200-700 times sweeter than sugar
- Questionable for use during pregnancy and lactation
- Sucralose (Splenda) ADI=5 mg/kg (6 cans diet cola*)
- Deemed safe for pregnancy and lactation
- Aceslfame-K (Sunett) ADI=15 mg/kg (30-32 cans lemon-lime soda*)
- FDA deems safe in moderation for pregnancy
- 7,000-13,000 times sweeter than sugar
- Cyclamate. Not approved for use by anyone.
The National Cancer Institute states that "there is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners available commercially in the United States are associated with cancer risk in humans." Cyclamates first sounded the warning bell for the possible cancer link when studies feeding animals a cyclamate/saccharin combo showed an increase incidence of bladder cancer. Subsequent studies on humans have not shown a clear link between any FDA approved sweeteners and cancer. (check out: http://fda/gov for more information.)
After considering all this information, you need to decide for yourself if you want to consume sweeteners or not. I chose not use non-nutritive sweeteners while pregnant, nursing, and did allow my children to use these as they were growing up. I chose to err on the side of caution and they were not overweight or diabetic. I do consume some artificial sweeteners now, though try to minimize how much I use. Be sure to check with your family doc, pediatrician or OB/GYN for recommendations for you in your own health situations, and for your family.
If you choose to consume artificial sweeteners, use sparingly---moderation in everything!
Check back tomorrow when we take a look about artificial sweeteners and weight loss!