Pros and Cons of Artificial Sweeteners Explained
Since our childhood, we started consuming sugar in our day to day life and we get used to it over time. Life without sweets is incomplete and boring. If you can’t miss on your dessert post meals, you don’t need to frown any more.
All thanks to artificial sweeteners, our life has been made very easy and you have to no more sacrifice your sweet tooth!!
Many of us are trying to cut down on sugars, may be due to Diabetes or even when someone is on a low carbohydrate diet for weight loss. In an effort to do so, we turn to artificial sweeteners. A food or a dish cannot be made tempting just due to its good taste. Good presentation, colour and texture also matter and artificial sweeteners provide us with all of these benefits.
What exactly are artificial sweeteners?
Artificial Sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes which are very much sweeter than table sugar. Sugar has around 20kcal per tsp, where as artificial sweeteners are almost nil in calories. The most commonly known artificial sweeteners include
However, if you are looking for a way to cut back on your sugar intake, then these are the pros and cons of Artificial sweeteners to consider.
1. An efficacious product for diabetics
Artificial sweetener is a boon for diabetic people with a sweet tooth.
Artificially sweetened drinks can be an easy alternative for those who regularly consume soft drinks and want to decrease their sugar consumption.
2. Artificial sweeteners can be natural
Even though artificial sweeteners are a synthetic sugar substitute, it can be forged from natural substances. Since they are much sweeter than actual sugar, they are an alluring alternative for those who have weight concerns, diabetes diagnosis or other medical needs. This is because of almost Nil calories presented by them.
3. Reduces calorie intake
With almost zero calories, artificial sweeteners when consumed on a regular basis, restricts the calorie intake.
For instance, if a glass of juice contains 5 teaspoons sugar, it adds on to 100 calories in diet. Replacing this sugar with an artificial sweetener cuts down on those unwanted calories.
4. Effortless and easy to use
Because of its allied properties like sugar in baking, canning and packaging, you will find them in a variety of candies, baked stuff, jams, jellies, dairy products and carbonated drinks
5. Improved oral health
Excess sugar consumption and tooth cavities are commonly seen to go hand in hand. Sugar many times gets deposited in your teeth and causes bacterial over growth and thus, damages the oral health.
Unlike sugars, artificial sweeteners do not react with the bacteria in your mouth. This means they do not form acids or cause tooth decay
6. Variety to choose from
There are many artificial sweeteners available over the counter. Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Stevia (Natural product and widely consumed)
No food when consumed has only positive health benefits. There may be some negative effects too!!!
1. After taste
Some artificial sweeteners do leave a sour or a bitter after taste. Many people may find the aftertaste very unpleasant. People who regularly consume artificial sweeteners, do not easily accept other flavours in natural foods
For example- They may reject fruits or fruit juices or may find them different in taste as they are more intermittently using artificial sweeteners
2. Lack of bulk or volume
Unlike natural sugar, artificial sweeteners doesn’t provide bulk or volume to food. It requires careful reading and analysing of food labels before adding them into your favourite cakes or sweets.
3. Health issues
High consumption of artificial sweeteners is linked to higher risks of cancer. Artificial sweeteners like Saccharin are considered potentially unsafe. Also, studies have shown that aertificial sweeteners may surge the cholesterol levels, neurological problems, metabolic syndrome and bad effects on liver metabolism. Due to this it is been ditched by many people.
Always remember, you are replacing your sugar with sweetness from a chemical source.
4. Gastrointestinal distress
Loose motions, bloating or frequent gases are the most common side effects seen due to regular consumption of artificial sweeteners.
5. Anything in excess is harmful
Artificial sweeteners should be consumed in limited amounts. Many food products contain artificial sweeteners exceeding the acceptable daily intakes. In such a case, it is really challenging to ensure that you do not exceed their safe limits
6. Weight gain
Many people confuse sweetness with the number of calories they consume each day. Hence, healthy natural foods are being replaced by artificially sweetened foods which in turn adds on the number on your weighing scale.
Artificial sweeteners also increase the appetite. Because of this, your tummy isn’t full even after meals and hence its challenging for you to stick to your diet plans. An unfilled and nutrient deficient body asks for food again and again
7. Different chemical composition
Due to its different chemical composition and properties, the colour and texture of your sweets or bakery products will change. The final food product many times is lighter in colour or might be drier or denser in appearance due to lack of moisture holding capacity of artificial sweeteners. This in turn reduces the perishability of the food
The pros and cons of these artificial sweeteners provide key points which everyone should evaluate personally. They don’t show the dangers that we once thought they did, but this does not indicate that this product is completely safe to use. So, it is always advisable to consult a health care provider before purchasing them over the counter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sneha Jain, Dietician
Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids . She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)
She believes in customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.