sugarsubstitues2

To the delight of those on low carb and low calorie diets, sugar in drinks and sweets can now be replaced with a multitude of zero and low calorie artificial and alternative sweeteners. Here’s the low down on sugar replacements and what risks they may pose to you and your family.

Artificial Sweeteners: Think Equal or Sweet ‘N Low. These are made from chemicals like Aspartame and Saccharin.

Pros: Calorie free.
Cons: They are made entirely from chemicals, and they have been rumored to be linked with an increased risk for cancer. However, a study by the Mayo Clinic states that  The National Cancer Institute and the World Health Organization found no definitive link and that small amounts are OK.  (photo credit here)

equal

Sugar Alcohols: You’ve probably seen these under the names Sorbitol or Xylitol.

Pros: They taste more like real sugar than their chemical counterparts.
Cons: They aren’t calorie free, and they can cause intestinal upset, including a laxative effect.

sugarbowls

Novel Sweeteners and Sugar Alternatives: Stevia extracts and Agave nectar fall under this category.

Pros: They are often low calorie or calorie free, and unlike the chemical varieties they are derived from natural sources.
Cons: Although they may start out from natural substances they are highly processed, often with chemicals, and some may have as many calories as sugar.

stevia

All sugar substitutes can pose a threat to keeping your healthy diet on track. According to a Harvard study, eating sugar substitutes can dull your taste buds, leaving healthy sweets like fruit unappetizing. Eating sugar substitutes can also  make you think you have more wiggle room in your daily calorie intake than you really do, causing you to overeat.

The best bet for you and your family is to treat sugar substitutes, whether chemical or natural, the same as you would sugary treats. Eat them sparingly, and stick with fruits as your main source of sweet.

For more information, check out The Skinny On Sugar Substitutes.