Splenda. Saccharin. Asparatame. Acesulfame K. Stevia. Sugar alcohols. When it comes to cancer, there is a lot of controversy over artificial sweeteners.
In the last two posts (part I and part II), I talked about sugar and cancer. A large portion of sugar intake in America is from our fluids. In response to this, many people have chosen to take in fluids that are calorie free, but have sweet flavor from artificial sweeteners.
What’s Wrong With Drinking Something Sweet?
I have mixed feelings about artificial sweeteners. In general, I think that the less “food-like substances” we consume, the better. I also think that drinking artificial sweetened drinks keeps people accustomed to sweet tastes. This is sometimes called sweetness acuity.
Research regarding taste buds suggests that the more you eat a certain flavor, the more you desire it and the less you appreciate other flavors. This means that if you are accustomed to sweet things, you will not appreciate the subtle flavors of other foods. So, if you drink a lot of sodas, regular or diet, then the subtle flavors of fruits, vegetables and whole grains don’t have a chance!
What Do We Know About Artificial Sweeteners?
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the safest sweetener is Splenda. Sugar Alcohols are safe, but can cause diarrhea in large amounts. Aspartame is categorized as probably safe. Stevia and Acesulfame K were inadequately tested, while they determined Saccharin to be unsafe.
Here is a short list of artificially sweetened drinks and which sweeteners are used. If your favorite diet soda is not on the list, you can tell which sweetener is used by looking at the ingredient list on the beverage you are considering.
Saccharin: Sweet and Low
Aspartame: Crystal Light, Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke, Diet Mountain Dew, Equal
Aspartame + Acesulfame K: Coke Zero, Pepsi Jazz
Splenda: Diet Rite
Should I Avoid Artificial Sweeteners Completely?
Everything has to be kept in perspective. Is having an occasional diet soda (or a regular soda for that matter) going to cause a problem?
So now you want to know where to draw the line, right? For that answer, you’ll have to stay tuned for Friday’s post, where I will address how much and what type of fluids to have for best health!
Reference: Sweet Nothings: Not All Sweeteners are Created Equal. Nutrition Action Newsletter, May 2004