Thinking of starting to use a sugar substitute? For one reason or another, many people worldwide would use artificial sugar substitutes.
Some simply think it's a healthier way to sweeten food or drinks; others use it to keep chronic conditions in check, such as insulin resistance. However, a recent study has observed a possible connection between artificial sweeteners and cardiovascular diseases.
Interested in finding out this link? Read on to learn more about artificial sweeteners' effects on the human body.
What Are Artificial Sweeteners?
Sugar is the primary ingredient people use to sweeten their food. However, some people avoid it due to several factors.
These factors may include chronic conditions like high blood sugar and insulin resistance and the intent to consume a healthier diet.
Since many have sought “healthier” substitutes for sugar, synthetic sweeteners have gained popularity. Simply put, these artificial substances are used to make your food sweet without the cons of using sugar.
Usually, you can find sweeteners in many grocery items, drinks, and snacks claiming to be "low-calorie" or "sugar-free."
There are many artificial sweeteners. The three most common ones are sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium.
Sucralose is a popular no-calorie sweetener many people use to lower their sugar intake. While it's called an artificial sweetener, sucralose is derived from natural sugar.
Given the wide availability of alternative sweeteners in the market (artificial or not), consumers and companies prefer sucralose as their sweetener.
Sucralose is chemically formulated to be around six hundred times sweeter than natural sugar, so a little goes a long way. Additionally, it also has the most favorable taste among artificial sweeteners. It's more affordable, too!
Aspartame has been a controversial issue among consumers, dietitians, doctors, and researchers. This artificial sweetener has been widely used in beverages advertised as “low-calorie,” but it is also sold in small packets to add to drinks and food.
The sweetness of aspartame is less potent than sucralose as it's only 200 times sweeter than sugar. This sweetener is usually mixed with other sugar substitutes since it has a slightly bitter aftertaste.
3. Acesulfame Potassium
Another popular artificial sweetener used in the mass production of “low-calorie” or “no-sugar” goods is acesulfame potassium. Similar to aspartame, it’s 200 times sweeter than regular table sugar, so a little goes a long way.
Artificial Sweeteners and Cardiovascular Disease
A recent study published in the BMJ found a possible link between the intake of artificial sweeteners and cardiovascular diseases. The observational study involved 103,000 French adults with an average age of 42 years. Among these adults, 37% have consumed some form of artificial sweetener.
After careful observation, some spanning nine years, the researchers have concluded that there's an alleged link between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and cardiovascular issues. People who consume a synthetic substitute reportedly have a 9% increased risk of developing such problems in the long run.
However, the researchers did mention that being an observational study, there may be other factors contributing to the results they have gathered.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Healthy?
This has been a long-fought debate. People seeking to lower their sugar intake are finding accessible ways to enjoy a sweet treat. Most of the time, they opt for artificial sweeteners since they are easy to come by and are budget-friendly.
However, synthetic sugar substitutes are not entirely healthy. Sure, they are “safe” for consumption, but there are many alleged risks that many of us shouldn’t take.
Many products out in the market, including “healthy” alternatives or supplements, use artificial sweeteners to make their products taste appetizing. So, be vigilant and read the label when trying out such products. Luckily, Xendurance® products don’t have artificial sweeteners that can harm you.
There are many natural, low-calorie, and healthy sweeteners on the market. While their production isn't as cheap and as big of a scale as artificial sweeteners, these substances should be the ones you look for when looking for a sugar alternative.
Natural Alternatives to Table Sugar/Artificial Sweeteners
In recent years, stevia has become the most popular alternative sweetener for many health enthusiasts, doctors, and dietitians. It’s a natural-occurring, plant-based sweetener that comes in many forms.
Thanks to manufacturing technology, you can get stevia as dried leaves, in the more convenient powder/granule form, and as an extract.
2. Yacon Syrup
While it’s not widely seen around the market, yacon syrup is a healthy alternative to sugar that you can try. This sweetener comes from the yacon plant, which is endemic in South America.
Yacon syrup has several additional benefits apart from its sweet taste. It contains soluble fibers that help the good bacteria in your intestine thrive. Because of this, it also helps lower the risk of experiencing constipation.
However, do remember that too much of anything can be bad for you. Avoid using too much yacon syrup, as it can cause digestive issues.
Good ‘ol honey is one of the most popular sugar alternatives around. It may not be zero-calorie and may still have naturally-occurring sugars, but it’s healthier than table sugar and has a lower glycemic index.
This golden liquid provided by hard-working honeybees contains a small amount of vitamins and minerals it can give the body. However, it is well known for having plant compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
When using honey, make sure to do so in moderation.
Seek Healthy Alternatives
There has been a lot of back and forth on whether artificial sweeteners are healthy. However, studies showing adverse effects, such as the link between artificial sweeteners and cardiovascular disease, slowly show people the true nature of synthetic sugar alternatives.
Many consumer products use buzzwords like “low-calorie,” “no-calorie,” or “no-sugar” to make it seem like their products are healthier alternatives. However, as consumers, we must remain vigilant in knowing what substances we put in our bodies.
But why settle for a synthetic sweetener with many adverse effects when natural, healthier options are available? Check the label, and find a healthier sugar substitute to incorporate into your diet.