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With the recent abolishing of the sugar subsidy in Budget 2014, cane sugar prices will soon make artificial sweetener prices competitive.

Artificial sweeteners seem like attractive alternatives to sugar since they add virtually no calories to your diet. Adding to the allure, you only need to use a fraction compared to the amount of regular sugar you’d normally use for adding sweetness. But there’s a seriously big catch — they’re dangerous and they’re showing up everywhere these days.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are widely used in processed products, including tabletop sweeteners, baked goods, soft drinks, powdered drink mixes, candy, puddings, canned foods, jams and jellies, dairy products, and scores of other foods and beverages.

What’s really scary is that artificial sweeteners have also become popular at home. More and more home cooks are enthusiastically using artificial sweeteners, thinking that they’re healthy alternatives to regular table sugar. And let’s be honest, the information going around has been really confusing. In the 1970s and ‘80s, the US government warned about the health dangers of artificial sweeteners. They even labeled the “pink” packets as a potential carcinogen back in the day.

But that’s all changed now. Despite mounting clinical and laboratory evidence pointing to dangerous health consequences attributed to artificial sweeteners, the government has now decided that they’re safe. The official position of the FDA and the National Cancer Institute is that there’s no clear cut evidence of disease-causing effects from the use of artificial sweeteners. Unbelievable.

And don’t think for a second that corn syrups are healthy either, despite the intense marketing efforts of the National Corn Growers Association. These sweeteners are popular because they’re cheap and readily available, period. No real chef in their right mind would ever use them otherwise. Sure, the mass produced pre-packaged food industry relies on high fructose corn syrup, but only because it’s a direct path to profits.

So How Can You Avoid These Dangerous Chemical Sweeteners?

The first step is the easiest: just don’t use those little pre-packaged artificial sweeteners. As a matter of fact, just avoid that section of the grocery store altogether.

The next hurdle is a little more difficult to overcome when roaming the aisles. Truth is, artificial sweeteners and processed sugars have found their way into just about every pre-packaged and canned food item, making them really difficult to avoid.

Of course, the best thing to do is not to buy anything that’s pre-packaged or canned. Of course, this can be a bit of a challenge if you’re on a tight budget. So, if you have to purchase pre-packaged and canned foods for financial reasons, at least arm yourself with knowledge.

Get into the habit of looking on the back of product labels, as artificial sweeteners and processed sugars will be included within the ingredient list. The closer it is to the beginning of the list, the higher the amount included. Generally speaking, only purchase products that have them listed at the end of the ingredient list, or better yet, not listed at all.

Here are two sample labels. If you had to buy one product, which would you pick?

INGREDIENTS:
RICE, SUGAR, WHOLE WHEAT, RAISINS, RICE CEREAL [RICE, SUGAR, SALT, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, MALT FLAVORING, IRON], SALT, SUCRALOSE
INGREDIENTS:
RICE, SUGAR, WHOLE WHEAT, RAISINS, DATES, WHOLE OATS, SALT, SUCRALOSE

 
If you picked the label on the right, you chose wisely. It uses whole oats instead of rice cereal and doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup. Unfortunately, they both contain the artificial sweetener sucralose. But if you’re picking the lesser of the two evils, the label on the right is the one to run with.

Artificial Sweeteners and Their Adverse Effects

The following table lists the most common artificial sweeteners and processed sugars along with their potential adverse effects:
 

 Artificial Sweetener  Brand Name  Potential Adverse Effects
Acesulfame potassium Sweet One
Sunett
  • Carcinogen
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Insulin Resistance
Aspartame
Neotame
Equal
Nutrasweet
Canderel
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Blurry Vision
  • Ringing in the Ear (Tinnitus)
  • Headaches & Migraines
  • Hyperactivity in Kids
High Fructose Corn Syrup Canned Foods
Pre-packaged Foods
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver
  • Hyperuricemia
  • High Triglycerides
Saccharin Sweet’N Low
SugarTwin
  • Carcinogen
  • Nervousness
Sucralose Splenda
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating & Gas
  • Nervousness


Please note: A new category of artificial sweeteners are sugar alcohols like xylitol and erythritol. At the present time, no significant adverse effects have been documented with them.

What Sweeteners are Safe to Use?

Fortunately, there are a few safe, natural sweeteners available. Here’s a list of our top picks for sweetening your diet and recipes:

  • Luo Han Guo / Buddha Fruit Powder (罗汉果)
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Date Sugar
  • Evaporated Grape Juice
  • Evaporated Whole Cane Juice
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup Granules
  • Stevia

 

Artificial Sweeteners Can Increase Your Blood Sugar

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