Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The "Facts" About Artificial Sweeteners

With obesity on the rise in America, it seems artificial sweetener companies are really pushing their stuff. Have you seen the Splenda commercials that promises you to lose 10 lbs in a year by "simply replacing sugar with splenda"?

Growing up I remember my mom putting those little blue packets of equal on stuff. There are several sugar substitutes out right now and artificial sweeteners are great to sweeten without the calories, but what are you getting with those little sweet green, pink, yellow and blue packets?

I've been reading up a little more about artificial sweeteners and here's some info I found in a book called 21 lbs in 21 days, which by the way I am in no way recommending (at all...seriously), I picked it up out of interest and found the section on artificial sweeteners helpful:

Sucralose (Splenda)
{Yellow packets} It's made from cane sugar..awesome right? I also learned it's made with chlorine. Not as cool, huh? To make sucralose, they take some of the hydrogen-oxygen groups in cane sugar and replace it with chlorine atoms. Some researchers say that sucralose causes cells to slowly mutate and cause cancer.

Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal)

{Blue packets} Aspartame is made of two amino acids: phenylalanine and aspartic acid, which are then combined with methanol. Researchers have said it blocks serotonin production (serotonin imbalance is linked to depression) as well as produces toxins that can hinder brain and mental functions. The FDA has reviewed aspartame over 25 times since it was first approved for use in 1981 and in 1996 the FDA approved it for general use in food and beverages. However, some people have reported central nervous system side effects, like headaches, dizziness and mood changes

Saccharin (Sweet N' Low)

{Pink packets} Saccharin is the oldest artificial sugar and is derived from a plant in China. The FDA describes it as a complex natural sugar. The FDA used to require the following warning label on Sweet N' Low: "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals". In 1977, the FDA proposed a ban on saccharin, which never went through and the warning label was no longer required after 2000.

Stevia (Truvia or Purevia)

{Green packets} Stevia comes from a plant in South America. Stevia is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and is calorie free. It does not raise blood sugar and a study published in the Journal of Ethno-Pharmacology showed that stevia dilates blood vessels and helps to prevent high blood pressure. In 2008, the FDA approved it as a food additive. Other studies have shown that stevia improved insulin sensitivity in lab rats and can help reduce hypertension.


So which artificial sweetener is right for you? I personally was a big splenda on my grapefruit fan until I read it was made with chlorine and I have since been trying to switch to stevia. This is not to say that I will never eat anything with splenda again, one of my favorite sugar free syrups for pancakes is made with splenda...but I don't eat pancakes very often. Everything in moderation. I've given up *most* diet soda, which is made with aspartame, but allow myself one every now and then. I have found that I love Sobe Lifewater which is zero calories and happens to be made with Stevia, so when I'm craving something sweet and want to avoid soda, I go for that. I don't know that I have every really eaten much of anything with saccharin, but I've been definitely reading low cal and {diet food} labels more closely. Whether you use any or no artificial sweeteners at all is a personal choice, but it might be wise to make it an informed choice. I learned a lot about artificial sweeteners that I didn't know before!


  1. I am definitely switching to Stevia after learning that about Splenda. I'm follow the SB Diet, so I use art sweeteners semi-frequently. I re-posted this blog!

  2. TONS of great info! thanks for the fab post!!!

  3. I stay away from artificial sweeteners like the plague. BTW, I don't consider Stevia an artificial sweetener. It's more of an herb.

  4. Splenda is actually mostly corn. I am allergic to corn and cannot use it because of that. I prefer Stevia. There is nothing better than the Stevia Sweet & Natural Creamy Vanilla liquid Stevia in a nice cup of hot tea. Try that with the others and you might as well be embalming yourself, not kidding. :) I have made lots of stevia (Truvia in the stores) converts and love that you are talking about this.



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