Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, are substances that are used instead of table sugar. Because artificial sweeteners are a lot sweeter than table sugar, smaller amounts are needed to achieve the same amount of sweet. With so many options of sweeteners, there is no wonder some are questioning which is the best choice. Here are a few details about each to help in your decision.
Understanding Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes. They often are an attractive alternative to sugar because they add virtually no calories to your diet and can aid in weight control. Many artificial sweeteners also do not raise blood sugar levels and can help those with diabetic or prediabetic conditions satisfy an occasional sweet tooth.
Over the years, artificial sweeteners have been scrutinized with cancer causing claims. The reality is that sweeteners have been studied quite a bit. According to the National Cancer Institute and other health agencies, there’s no sound scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA cause cancer or other serious health problems.
Sugar is a form of carbohydrate that the body converts to glucose. It provides an energy source in our diet. Sugars naturally occur in some foods like fruit and dairy products. Of course, nearly everything seems to taste better with sugar, but the key to eating sugar is mindful moderation.
Having too much sugar can lead to health problems, such as tooth decay, weight gain, poor nutrition, and increased triglycerides.
Everything in Moderation
The average 2,000 calorie diet should contain no more than 200 calories worth of sugar (about 12 teaspoons). That may sound like a lot, but there are about 10 teaspoons of sugar in a 12-ounce soda can. Learn how to read labels and know what those ingredients mean. Anything with high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, fructose, glucose, lactose, sucrose, or molasses means it has sugar added in. Remember that artificial sweeteners are no magic pill and “sugar-free” isn’t calorie-free.
Everyone’s needs can vary. If you are concerned about the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners or your daily sugar intake, you may benefit from talking with your health care provider.
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