We wrote this elsewhere recently, and are re-posting it now in response to the many questions asked here, on Twitter, and on various online publications. Also helpful is information you'll find on the Mayo Clinic site. See Mayo Clinic: "Artificial sweeteners: A safe alternative to sugar?" http://tinyurl.com/5y5n7x
I hope too that you'll follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JoyceSchneider1
If you're new to Twitter & need help getting the hang of it, just holler and I'll help! Twitter is easy, fun, and more. It's a source of comfort. You feel connected to a real-time pulse of real and wonderful people. In Twitter's search bar, on the right of each page, type anything you want to connect with. R U feeling happy? Depressed? R U diabetic, Democrat, or a tea-partier? Want to lose weight or start a new work-from-home business? Write *anything* in that wonderful search field, & you'll find friends, connection.
Now back to the subject of sugar in all its commercially hyped, sneaky, not-great-4-u hidden forms (see this http://tinyurl.com/c337ub). We hope our following article helps.
"It's no secret that humans love sugar. Unfortunately, sugar doesn't return the favor. The average American consumes 142 pounds of sugar per year, up from 100 pounds 30 years ago. There is a staggering amount of sugar in products like baked goods, candy and ice cream, but sugar also shows up in everything from ketchup to microwave meals.
A typical can of a non-diet soft drink contains 40 to 50 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 12 teaspoons. Five soft drinks per day, plus all the other sources of sugar in the typical Western diet, produce the familiar "high" followed by the equally familiar "crash," which results in cravings for more sugar. It's a vicious, disease-inducing circle.
It can't be repeated enough: Excess sugar is metabolized into fat by your body. Too much fat leads to heart disease, diabetes and cancer. All three diseases are overwhelmingly caused by overweight. (Same page, at the bottom in the red & green text, shows how to calculate how many teaspoons of sugar the carbs you eat will metabolize into: http://tinyurl.com/c337ub).
We are as confident in the safety of the following sweeteners as we are taken with their taste.
The Safety of Splenda and Aspartame
Artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin (Sweet and Low) and aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, and NatraTaste) contain no calories or carbohydrates.
Saccharin got a bad rap a few years ago because it produced bladder cancer in rats exposed to prodigious amounts. However, those tests didn't hold up in humans since no one would eat a truckload of saccharin. Still, because it has a slightly metallic aftertaste, we don't use it.
Instead we like aspartame and love Splenda (sucralose). (Supermarkets now carry their own, cheaper brands of Splenda made from the same molecule. They're fine.) We've experienced no side effects from either product. Both have decades-long track records and many studies in humans. Physicians have been calling these substances a "godsend," but we still had questions and wrote to the government. We received responses from the following organizations.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists aspartame and sucralose among its tested and approved artificial sweeteners, adding that Splenda is only 1% sucralose, which is also approved.
The National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development sponsor Splenda. (For more information on Splenda, contact the FDA at
1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332) or by e-mail at http://www.fda.gov/comments.html.)
However, there are other sweeteners that aren't so safe. They include fructose, Stevia and sugar alcohols.
Fructose (including agave, which is 94% fructose)
Fructose, with its longer shelf life and the fact that it's cheaper than other sweeteners, has become the trans fat of the sugar family.
Sold as just another member of the sugar family, fructose is not safe to consume, especially in quantity. A derivative of honey, berries, tree fruits, agave and sweet potatoes, fructose has been commercialized into a refined sugar, which is absorbed more slowly than sugar but also damages the body far more. Fructose and high-fructose corn syrup have been added to processed foods, soft drinks and, more ominously, so-called "diet yummies." Manufacturers of those yummies tell people they can "cheat and eat" as much as they like. Fructose is popular with commercial food companies because it has a long shelf life and it is cheaper than other sweeteners.
However, in addition to causing the health problems associated with sugar, fructose:
* Causes a spike in blood sugar and blood sugar levels equivalent to ordinary table sugar
* Is only metabolized in the liver and is not taken up and utilized by all body cells like glucose. This is a problem for your liver. After prolonged high use of fructose, the liver looks like that of an alcoholic-fatty and scarred. The medical term is cirrhosis.
* Does not suppress appetite so increased weight is common, particularly central obesity (around the middle of the body), which is the worst metabolic location for fat.
* Provokes insulin resistance, causing or making diabetes worse
* Increases LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of diseases including cardiovascular disease). It increases clotting.
* Binds to cellular protein and contributes to aging and the appearance of aging
For many years the FDA refused to approve Stevia, which is an herb, because of its possible cancer-causing effects. Pro-stevians-and their lobby-argued that it's 1) natural and 2) has been used by South American natives for centuries, but no one knows how long or in what state of health those people lived. We found no years-long studies or control group studies done on Stevia. And that, to us, is troublesome. Cancer can take years to develop, as is the case with smoking.
But recently the FDA issued a "letter of no objection" regarding rebaudioside, a modified form of Stevia-but only the rebaudioside-as a Generally Recognized as Safe (or GRAS) substance. In other words, the FDA has not granted approval to Stevia itself, but has said it will not object to companies using rebaudioside in foods and beverages. (See http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~rdb/opa-g253.ht
For us, "generally recognized" isn't good enough, and still keeps Stevia in a gray zone that does not inspire confidence. There have been hundreds of drugs and medical products okayed by the FDA-Vioxx, IUDs, Hydroxycut, for example-only to be recalled a few years later amid reports of injury and death. (See http://tinyurl.com/rxbs3r)
We only feel safe using products that have been tested and studied for decades with, as physicians say, "no red flags."
Sugar alcohols are one of the five main sweeteners in commercial use today (saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame are the others). Sugar alcohols are derived, but changed, from sugar molecules. They are sold under the names sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, lactitol and maltitol as well as others ending in "ol." Sugar alcohols still have most of the calories of sugar (2 to 3 calories per gram as opposed to 4 calories per gram of standard sugar), and they still affect blood sugar levels. Their benefit is that they metabolize more slowly than regular sugar, so they last longer and hold off those need-sweets-again-crashes.
Unfortunately, products containing sugar alcohols deceptively say they are "sugar free" or are marketed as "no sugar added." That is completely misleading. They'll still break down to sugar, plus they often cause bloating and diarrhea.
You may be wondering why, if Splenda and aspartame are so great, do manufacturers still use sugar alcohols? Because only sugar, in one form or another, makes the cookie stiff, the gum bulky or the candy solid at room temperature. Splenda and aspartame are fine in your coffee or no-fat yogurt or to bake with (Splenda), but they alone can't keep the muffin from falling apart. That's why you'll find sugar alcohols in more and more products.
Any questions? Write or tweet me! Happy Thanksgiving to all!