Hello, readers! Been trying to get this blog cranked out, but with a new baby in the house, it’s been no easy task to find extra time! Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about sugar substitutes and what are the absolute safest and best ones to use for you and your family. Let’s dissect a little, shall we?
Sodium Saccharin (Sweet N’ Low) Ah, I love this sweetener in a huge cup of tea straight from Captain D’s Seafood Restaurant. The side effects seem relatively low, and according to fitday.com, seem to be attributed to sulfa allergies. If you have an allergy to sulfas (such as certain types of antibiotics), you’re probably better off to avoid this sweetener. Fitday also reports on the common research study of saccharin causing bladder cancer. However, these tests were only conducted on rats, and no conclusive evidence has proven its carcinogenic effects on humans. Fitday explains that saccharin is derived from, wait for it, petroleum. Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s an enormous turnoff.
Aspartame (Nutrasweet) Wow, there’s a personal story behind this one. I’m not going to be so bold and boast that I NEVER enjoy a Diet Dr. Pepper, but this stuff (aspartame, that is) is a real deal breaker for a healthy lifestyle, and I’m getting to a point where I shun the junk most of the time. When I was younger, I drank a LOT of diet sodas, and I suffered from strange spells that caused numbness. I really believe that this ingredient was the cause of it. Holisticmed.com backs me up on this, as the site reports of maladies such as panic attacks, depression, and seizures, that occurred as a result of the consumption of aspartame. Holisticmed also explores the body’s treatment of aspartame as it digests. Oddly (and disgustingly) enough, aspartame is broken down into methanol, which then changes into formaldehyde–a caustic threat to the body’s nervous and immune system. Diet Coke, anyone? I think not.
Sucralose (Splenda): Ah, sucralose. “Made from sugar; tastes like sugar,” right? Wrong. Wendy Melton, contributor at LiveStrong.com, documents the many ill effects of this substitute, which include headaches, stomach pain, weight gain, and fatigue. Melton reports that sucralose is created when chlorine atoms replace some of the sugar’s hydroxyl groups. Yummy, no?
Finally, let’s take a look at more natural alternatives. Foodrenegade.com gives a fantastic list of natural sweeteners to try along with some interesting information about the “natural” sweetener, agave. I highly recommend raw honey, “Sugar in the Raw,” and maple syrup. These ingredients are minimally processed, so you’re far less likely to be exposed to additives or other harmful processing agents. “What about stevia,” you might ask. Well, 100daysofrealfood.com gives a fantastic exploration of why stevia is not the best option in its processed form. Some manufacturers have used ingredients, such as GMO (genetically modified) erythritol and dextrose, so make sure that stevia contains ONLY the sweetener, free from goodies such as these.
So exercise caution and read those labels. What is listed as healthy and pure might not be the case once you take a closer look at those nutrition facts. It’s a jungle out there, guys, so be prepared. 😉