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How Savvy Are You About Sugar Substitutes?

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Healthy Eating related image Photo: Getty Images

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)
Sucralose (Splenda)

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:
Date sugar
Grape juice concentrate
Maple sugar
Maple syrup
Agave nectar

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.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Daily sugar intake for a woman is 5 teaspoons daily and 9 for men. If you limit yourself in having up to 5 tspn of sugar each day you are not creating anything to be harmful.

If you decide to have sugar go ahead but try to keep a limit daily. It is better than having aspartame.


January 6, 2012 - 9:16pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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