What's the Deal With: Sugar Substitutes

What's the Deal With: Sugar Substitutes

I went out for breakfast the other day and on the table sat the cute little container of sugar packets. I'm into the real stuff, so I always choose Sugar in the Raw (it has more nutrients than white sugar), but when I took a closer look, I saw at least 4 other colored packets in there.


Are these sugar substitutes really better for you? Is there some benefit to stirring them into your coffee instead of real sugar?

Basically, Equal, Splenda, and Sweet 'n Low all contain zero calories, fat, sodium, cholesterol, and protein. They contain less than 1g of carbs, so people trying to omit calories and carbs from their diet love these little packets.

OK, sounds like it's too good to be true, so here comes the million dollar question: Are these sugar substitutes safe? The truth is, we just don't know yet. There are no long-term studies of the side effects of artificial sweeteners in humans. The makers of these products did their own short-term studies on rodents and the results showed shrunken thymus glands as well as enlarged livers and kidneys. Since these tests weren't conducted on humans, the FDA decided that the results they were not conclusive. Hmmm.

Want to know about the side effects in humans? Then read more

Some people already experience headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, numbness, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and skin rashes. I'll take calories over stomach pains any day. It's totally your personal preference though. Some people may use artificial sweeteners and not feel any side effects.

Just for fun, now a lawsuit has been thrown at the situation. Equal is suing the makers of Splenda for misleading consumers with the advertising motto "Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar." Splenda assures us that the process does in fact start with actual sugar, but at th end of the day, Equal is claiming that Splenda is a chemical just like Equal.

Fit's Tips: Just so you know, 1 heaping teaspoon of sugar, or 1 sugar cube, contains only 25 calories. 1 packet of sugar contains 15 calories and 1 packet of Sugar in the Raw contains about 20 calories. We're not talking about a tremendous amount of calories here, and since I don't like eating artificial foods, I'd go for the Sugar in the Raw.

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