Health Ministry News

Artificial Sweeteners – to eat or not to eat? This seems to be the question that people are asking based on some recent news headlines. So, what should you do and what does the scientific evidence say?

What is sugar? Sugar is a type of carbohydrate also known as sucrose. It is only one of many kinds of naturally occurring sugars. The body actually needs carbohydrates (including sugar) to turn them into glucose, a fuel source for the brain and muscles. However, consuming too much food high in added sugar (sugar added to food, such as cakes, cookies, soda, etc.) has been shown to increase one’s risk of cavities, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health issues.

So, is Sugar-Free a better option? Not necessarily. Most artificial sweeteners (also called non-nutritive sweeteners, NNS) are created from chemicals in a lab. Artificial sweeteners can be up to 700 times sweeter than sugar! Examples include aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda), and saccharin (Sweet’N Low). Some, like Stevia and monk fruit, are made from plants. For some people with diabetes and other chronic diseases, who may need to consume less sugar, artificial sweeteners seem like a great alternative. However, some research shows that artificial sweeteners have been linked to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, an imbalance in gut bacteria, high blood pressure and inflammation.

The final takeaway. If your doctor or health care professional has recommended you consume less sugar, then stick with the real thing, sugar, and truly be mindful of your portion size. A little bit of the real thing usually tastes a whole lot better and is much more satisfying than the fake “knock-off”. Avoid high sugar items such as cakes, cookies, and candies.