Why Sweeteners aren’t so Sweet

Why Sweeteners aren’t so Sweet

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These days, it’s hard to pace the aisles of your local grocery store and find products that don’t contain some sort of artificial sweetener, sugar, or high fructose corn syrup. While many products and companies will boast their ingredients are “all natural” and “totally safe” – I wouldn’t bother taking their word for it. It’s important to be in the know about what artificial sweeteners are on the market and why you should avoid them at all costs.

Get the Low Down

While each artificial sweetener’s negative effects may differ, they’re all harmful nonetheless. This includes aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), sucralose (Splenda),saccharin (Sweet’N Low), acesulfame potassium, neotame, high fructose corn syrup, and others. Let’s go a bit more in depth on the most common of these:

Artificial Sweeteners

They’ve been considered a solution to the issues caused by sugar intake for quite some time now. They lack calories and are advertised as a healthy alternative to HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and sugar. However, studies have shown that consuming artificial sweeteners might make you gain weight faster than if you were consuming regular sugar. Artificial sweeteners slow down your metabolism and ultimately trigger you to want to eat more. The three main artificial sweeteners are – aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium. These have all been linked to cancer as well as Alzheimer’s disease, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease – according to Dr. Mercola.

Aspartame…oh dear, is all I have to say about that. It is debatably the most dangerous of the bunch. As you read above, it’s one of the most widely used and actually has reports of most adverse effects. The Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson issued the following statement in response to one of Coca-Cola’s ads:

“Aspartame has been found to cause cancer – leukemia, lymphoma, and other tumors—in laboratory animals, and it shouldn’t be in the food supply. We certainly want Coca-Cola to shift its product mix toward lower- and no-calorie drinks, but aspartame’s reputation isn’t worth rehabilitating with this propaganda campaign.

The company would be better off phasing out its use of aspartame and accelerating its research into safer, natural sweeteners such as those extracted from the stevia plant.”

Saccharin was first discovered during the early 20th century as a solution for sugar shortages during WWI and WWII. It’s a bit sweeter than aspartame, and it’s 300 times sweeter than sugar. Is that even possible?! Good gravy.

Acesulfame Potassium is another no calorie sweetener that can be found in frozen desserts, sodas, candy, and baked goods. This is 200 times sweeter than sugar.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a calorie-providing sweetener found in most processed and store-bought foods. Manufacturers love HFCS because of its low cost and role in assisting food in maintaining a longer shelf life. This refined fructose does the following:

  • Tricks your body into gaining weight because it fools your metabolism by turning off your body’s appetite-control system.

  • Activates a key enzyme that causes cells to store fat, this is the so called “fat switch” according to Dr. Richard Johnson.

  • Quickly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity…elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure – classic metabolic syndrome.

  • Over time it leads to insulin resistance – which is not only an underlying factor of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also many cancers.

Some Safe Alternatives

Our favorite sugar substitute comes from the plant kingdom: Stevia. Stevia is a highly sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, and is sold as a supplement. It’s totally safe in its natural form and can be used to sweeten most meals and drinks. Truvia is also derived from a plant. However, it makes use of only certain active ingredients and not the entire plant. A third alternative is pure glucose. You can buy pure glucose (dextrose) for about $5-$7 per pound. It’s only 70% as sweet as sucrose, so you’ll end up using a bit more of it to obtain the same amount of sweetness. It’s a bit heavier on the pocket book, but well worth it for the sake of your health. It doesn’t contain any fructose whatsoever.

Be sure to keep in mind, though, that if you have issues with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or if you’re overweight; it’d be in your best interest to avoid all sweeteners. Even Stevia.

When you go grocery shopping next, be sure to always check the list of ingredients so you know what sweeteners are in your food. Look for organic, from the earth, whole-natural options that contain none of the above artificial sweeteners.

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