The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners sound like a pretty great deal; you get the sweetness without the added calories of actual sugar. Excessive sugar intake can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased risk for heart disease. There are around 150 calories in one 12 oz. can of regular soda. Diet soda has zero calories, and also omits the normal sugar found in their regular soft drink counterpart. While replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners may lower your calorie count, there are pitfalls to every shortcut.
What Is Artificial Sweetener?
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes. They may be created from natural substances, and they are typically much sweeter than regular sugar. The FDA have approved five artificial sweeteners: acesulfame, saccharin, neotame, sucralose, and aspartame. The FDA has only approved one natural low-calorie sweetener, Stevia. Because these sweeteners are more potent, using them may overstimulate your sugar receptors and limit your sense of taste. So for example, consumers who use these sweeteners regularly may find the natural sugars in fruit not as appealing.
Some physicians fear that use of artificial sweeteners may cause people to stop associating sweetness with calories and weight gain. When this happens, you may find yourself craving sweeter foods more often and ultimately choosing calorie-packed foods over healthier alternatives. Furthermore, researchers fear that instead of skipping calories by using these sweeteners, people may use them as an excuse to replace that calorie count anyway – as in ordering a double cheeseburger because you are drinking a diet coke. Animal studies have found artificial sugar to be addictive as well.
Is It Safe?
The matter of safety all depends on your definition of safety. Initial studies ruled out the risk of cancer for the most part. The problem is these studies were done using much smaller amounts of soda than what the typical soda drinker consumes daily. Long-term effects of this amount of the sweetener is still unknown. The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis found that regular diet soda drinkers had a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes. When it comes to fulfilling your sweet tooth, moderation is key. Sugar consumption only presents health risks if done so in excess, and the same goes for artificial sweeteners.
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