Artificial Sweeteners - What You Need to Know



What You Need to Know About Artificial Sweeteners

Facts about artificial sweeteners

The term “artificial sweetener” carries some negative connotations, and there are tons of sugar substitutes available on the shelves of grocery stores. How much do you actually know about these sweeteners, though? If you want to learn more about the impact artificial sweeteners have on your health, and which varieties are most commonly used in your food, keep reading!

Different types of artificial sweeteners

According to, these are your artificial sweetener choices. The last four aren’t approved by the FDA yet, so the first five types are what you can find in your food:
  • Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low)
  • Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
  • Acesulfame-K
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Neotame
  • Alitame
  • Cyclamates
  • Neohesperdine
  • Thaumatin

Are artificial sweeteners bad for you?

Critics have been cautioning consumers about the negative health impacts of artificial sweeteners for decades. Studies from the 1970s found a link between saccharin consumption and bladder cancer in laboratory rats, which led to an FDA warning on that particular sweetener for some time. However, the National Cancer Institute and other health agencies state that there isn’t a solid, scientific link that proves artificial sweeteners cause cancer or other serious health issues.

Recent studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are “generally safe in limited quantities,” and this applies to pregnant woman. That doesn’t mean these non-nutritive sweeteners don’t have other health impacts, though. For example, people may replace the calories “saved” with other food sources, thus negating the positive impacts on weight loss and maintenance.

Artificial sweeteners can also alter the way sweet foods taste, because your taste buds adapt to the super-sweet flavor. Additionally, the recent studies conducted only studied the effects of small amounts of diet soda, far less than the 24-ounces per day that most diet soda drinkers consume. Simply put, we don’t yet know how long term consumption of large amounts of artificial sweeteners impacts human health.

What are some alternatives to artificial sweeteners?

If you’re concerned about the health impacts of common artificial sweeteners, you’re in luck. Unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia comes from a plant. Similar to artificial sweeteners, it doesn’t add any extra calories. Research is always being done, but most experts agree that stevia is a healthier alternative when compared to artificial sweeteners; however, some people should use caution.

According to Catherine Ulbricht, senior pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, explains, “Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.” If you want to replace your Splenda for stevia, one of the most common brands is Truvia. Try it and see what you think!