Sugar Substitutes To Maintain
Sugar substitutes are chemical or plant-based substances used to sweeten or enhance the flavor of foods and drinks. You may have heard them called “artificial sweeteners” or “non-caloric sweeteners.” They can be used as a tabletop sweetener (for example, to sweeten a glass of iced tea) and/or as an ingredient in processed foods and drinks.
Most sugar substitutes are many times sweeter than sugar. It takes a smaller amount of these sugar substitutes to provide the same level of sweetness. Some sugar substitutes are low in calories. Others have no calories.
Sugar substitutes are regulated as food additives by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that the FDA reviews scientific evidence to be sure that a sugar substitute is safe before it can be used in foods and drinks.
Path to improved health
Sugar substitutes provide sweetness and enhance the flavor of food without adding the calories of sugar. Unlike sugar, they do not contribute to tooth decay. Most of them do not raise blood sugar levels. This may be helpful if you have diabetes and have to be careful about how much sugar you consume.
Sugar substitutes may also be helpful if you are trying to control the amount of calories you consume. They are found in most of the “light,” “reduced calorie,” and “sugar-free” foods and drinks available today. Although sugar substitutes have fewer calories than sugar, it’s best to limit them and focus on healthy food choices. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains are the best sources of nutrition for your body.
How can I tell if a food or drink contains a sugar substitute?
Sugar substitutes are used in many processed foods and drinks, including baked goods, soft drinks, powdered drink mixes, candy, puddings, canned foods, jellies, and dairy products. Check the ingredient list on the nutrition facts label for the names of the sugar substitutes listed above. This list gives ingredients in descending order by weight. Unless you add a sugar substitute yourself, it is often hard to know exactly how much a food or drink contains.
Things to consider
Over the years, there has been much research done concerning the safety of sugar substitutes. The findings of this research support the conclusion that FDA-approved sugar substitutes are safe to use in moderation. Also, GRAS sugar substitutes (stevia extracts, monk fruit extracts, and sugar alcohols) are considered safe.
While they are considered safe, sugar substitutes can cause diarrhea. This can happen when you consume large amounts of a product such as sugar-free candy.
When to see a doctor
Health experts have debated for years the use of sugar substitutes. Some would say that sugar substitutes are still controversial. However, the scientific community and FDA agree that they are safe to use, especially in moderation. If you have concerns, you should talk to your doctor about how or when to include sugar substitutes as part of a healthy diet.