The combination of American’s growing problems with weight and its incredible sweet tooth have led in recent decades to a veritable tsunami of artificial sweeteners flooding the market; they are now in a variety of “light” or “low-calorie” foods and appear everywhere from chewing gum to infant formulas. However, new research has come to light that, far from helping to shed those unwanted pounds, these artificial sweeteners may actually lead to weight gain, especially the gain of unwanted belly fat.
One new study recently — published in the peer-reviewed journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism — found that many artificial sweeteners, acting on the hormones, can actually increase the craving for sugars, leading to an increased risk for obesity and subsequent complications like diabetes and heart disease. While more research is certainly called for on this subject, avoiding the following sweeteners is truly a healthy choice.
Although it is actually 300 times as sweet as sugar, this substitute is often mixed with other compounds due to the fact that it has a somewhat metallic aftertaste. For nearly 20 years, the US Toxicology Program had this sweetener on its list of carcinogens. Even though it was subsequently taken off this list in 2000 for supposed lack of evidence, this move was controversial and remains so to this day. It is included in products like Sweet N’Low.
Sucralose has 600 times the sweetness of sugar, and yet still contains no calories. It is found in a number of food products, especially those claiming to be “diet” foods, but multiple studies have shown that its chemical compostion is not really compatible with the human digestive tract and that it cannot be properly metabolized. Some people have experienced gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, cramping or intestinal pain, headaches, skin irritation, light-headedness, edema or agitation when taking this product. This is the main ingredient in products like Splenda.
3. Acesulfame Potassium
This is not one of the better-known sweeteners, but it still can be found in a variety of products. There is still more research needed on whether or not this artificial sweetener can cause cancer. Concerns revolve around one of its ingredients, methylene chloride, which has been identified as a carcinogen. This product is marketed under brands like Sunett and Sweet One.
One of the most notorious of the artifical sweeteners, aspartame has been awash with bad publicity for years now and accounted for nearly 75% of consumer complaints made to the FDA last year. And with good reason. It is linked to a whole array of health issues including neurological/psychological issues like depression, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, aggressive behavior and suicidal ideation. There are many studies also trying to make the link between it and the formation of brain tumors. It is contained in products like NutraSweet, Equal and Sugar Twin.
This is the newest of the sweeteners available on the market and was produced by the industrial giant Monsanto. It chemical structure is similiar to that of aspartame and one of its metabolites, too, is formaldehyde. In addition to this, it contains another chemical called 3-dimethylbutyl, which is listed as a harmful chemical by the Environmental Protection Agency. One of its brand names is Sweetos.
One and all, these sweeteners, despite promises of weight loss and a healthier diet, are anything but healthful. A better alternative to any of these is to consume small amounts of regular sugar or, better yet, to use sweetners like honey, maple syrup, agave or monk fruit extract which are naturally sourced and can bring with them added health benefits that artificial sweeteners cannot.
More by Christine . S