As the new year begins, sugar intake, and natural versus sugar substitutes seem to be hot topics. If you’re trying to lose weight or to just eat healthier, you naturally think of using artificial sweeteners or other sugar substitutes instead of regular white sugar.
With all the alternatives out there boasting “sugar-free", "diet", and “no-sugar added” on products such as soft drinks, chewing gum, candy, baked goods, and ice cream it’s easy to be confused on what’s right for you.
Maybe this Q and A can help you sort it all out.
Q. Does table sugar go by other names on product labels?
A. Yes. Regular table sugar is also called sucrose, saccharose, and high-fructose corn syrup and can run around 60 calories per tablespoon. If you want to lose weight, foods with plain white sugar should be eaten in moderation.
Q. How can I tell if what I’m consuming has artificial sweeteners?
A. According the Mayo Clinic, artificial sweeteners currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are:
Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One)
Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet'N Low)
Artificial sweeteners have 0-8 calories per package (1 gram) and are used widely in sugar-free products. At one time, health officials warned against saccharin as causing cancer, but the National Cancer Institute has found no scientific evidence that any artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA cause cancer or other serious health problems.
Q. What if I want to stick to natural sweeteners?
A. The FDA has approved the following:
Grape juice concentrate
It’s important to note that natural sweeteners are often high in calories and you could see a rise in your blood sugar. Once again, everything in moderation.
Q. Is Stevia considered an artificial sweetener or a natural sugar substitute?
A. Both, sort of. Stevia (Truvia) is an herb native to South America and is considered more of a natural sugar substitute than an artificial sweetener, and contains 0 calories.