Artificial Sweeteners are not all that.
If you are in the process of adopting a healthier lifestyle, you will probably come across packaged foods that are "sugar free" and claim to be better for you. As you look at these artificially sweetened foods/drinks, ask yourself this question: Does the item offer any real benefit that you couldn’t get from an unsweetened source? Sometimes the answer will be yes, sometimes no. For example, a diet soda (or "pop" for those Yinzers reading this) might seem a better choice than a regular soda. But the best choice, of course, is to not drink the soda at all. And, naturally, buying something that is from the Earth from than from a package is preferred as well.
Inevitably, you will need to make the choice sometime though so I'd love to share my thoughts with you on some of the most popular artificial sweeteners: Sweet 'n Low, Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, and Stevia.
SWEET 'N LOW:
Sweet 'n Low contains saccharine. In the 70's, the USDA tried to ban the use of saccharine, but a compromise was reached that resulted in a warning label of “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharine, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.” The warning was removed years later, but the stigma stuck in many people’s minds. Even without the scary warning label, it is true that saccharine is known to cross the placenta. In addition to that, The American Medical Association cautions that children and pregnant women should limit their use of the artificial sweetener since not enough information is available to assess risk. If the AMA cautions against it, there is a reason. No thanks, Sweet 'n Low... Think I am better off without you!
Splenda gets it's sweetness from sucralose. Sucralose starts off as sugar but then it is chemically adjusted. According to the research I did, it is treated with trityl chloride, acetic anhydride, hydrogen chlorine, thionyl chloride, and methanol in the presence of dimethylformamide, 4-methylmorpholine, toluene, methyl isobutyl ketone, acetic acid, benzyltriethlyammonium chloride, and sodium methoxide. As a general rule, I don't put things in my body that I can't pronounce so Splenda is a no-go for me.
EQUAL & NUTRA SWEET:
Both of these artificial sweeteners contain aspartame. In my humble opinion, this section needs a warning label.
According to Wikipedia, Aspartame (or APM) (pronounced /əˈspɑrteɪm/) is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in some foods and beverages. According to me and much of the world, Aspartame is a poison that should not be ingested by humans...EVER! I am totally serious. Aspartame has been linked to many extreme side effects including seizures, drowsiness, hives, and even death. For a comprehensive list, go to Sweet Poison and check it out for yourself.
Phenylalanine is a component in aspartame so if you see that on your nutrition label, drop it and run! The FDA doesn't put a warning label on these for no reason. If you are interested in knowing more,. here is another great article that outlines the dangers.
Stevia is relatively new on the scene, and from everything I have seen and heard, it appears to be the best choice. It's derived from the Stevia plant so it's natural. It doesn't adversely affect blood glucose levels. Really, the only thing "wrong" with it would be that it tastes different than sugar. There is a slight aftertaste that is similar to licorice but honestly, it's just one of those acquired taste things. For more info on Stevia, check out this link.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on artificial sweeteners. If you stuck it out until the end, here's a pat on the back. If you are going to attempt to change your lifestyle because of this, congratulations. It will be worth it in the end, I promise.
If you haven't yet. check out my blog on reading labels. Be an educated consumer. Do your research on what is going into your body because as you've heard, you are what you eat...