Artificial sweeteners are found in many different products, including beverages, chewing gum, baked goods, fruit juice, ice cream, yogurt, candy, and even toothpaste and mouthwash. Some consumers question whether or not artificial sweeteners are a wise dietary choice, and there are many factors to consider.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several different types of artificial sweeteners, including saccharin, sucralose, and aspartame. Artificial sweeteners are free of calories and do not contribute to cavities or tooth decay. They are also considered to be a good choice for diabetic patients, because they do not raise blood sugar levels. Although these are sweeteners are artificially processed, many are actually derived from herbs and natural sweeteners, like sugar.
Artificial sweeteners are considered to be safe in limited quantities. And although there has been concern in the past, the National Cancer Institute indicates that there is no evidence that artificial sweeteners approved by the FDA cause cancer.
Even though artificial sweeteners allow for calorie free food products, many studies show mixed findings when it comes to how these sweeteners affect weight. Some studies show weight loss, some show weight gain, and others show no change in weight at all.
That may be because it is hard for the body to understand how many calories are being consumed with artificial sweeteners. The sweetness can also trigger the brain to want to eat more, which can lead to craving consuming sweet foods, even if you have just consumed an artificial sweetener. This can contribute to consuming excess calories in the long run.
Artificial sweeteners can also have an aftertaste, and its effects have not been studied long term in adults or children.
If you are trying to get away from sugary and calorie-laden foods and beverages, like soda, making a switch to diet soda or a sugar-free replacement can be a good way to break your habit. But be careful when it comes to consuming artificial sweeteners excessively. Read labels and exercise moderation to avoid falling into the trap of eating high calorie foods and justifying it because you saved calories with an artificial sweetener.