What are artificial sweeteners?
How do they compare to natural sweeteners?
How much should someone actually consume?
Does Diet Coke really cause cancer?
Artificial sweeteners are a very controversial topic. There are always new arguments made for or against them, and for there are too many different opinions to rely on the internet for answers. We enlisted one of our Registered Dietitians to give a clear answer based on all of the research that has been done, compiled by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Not only looking at the results, but the source of the tests, is key to understanding just how healthy artificial sweeteners actually are for the human body.
Artificial sweeteners can come from natural products or as "happy accidents" from laboratory science experiments. They may not taste as good as regular sweeteners, but research has not indicated any true negative health concerns from artificial sweeteners. People often cite the study on rats that resulted in cancer, without knowing the study relied on an excessive amount of artificial sweetener; no human could actually come reasonably close to injesting that much artificial sweetener through eating or drinking. In fact, the FDA is so confident in artifical sweeteners that it would take more than a dozen cans of diet soda to reach their recommended daily limit, and more than that to begin experiencing adverse health effects.
This is not to say that artificial sweeteners should replace natural sweeteners altogether. Sugars and high fructose corn syrup, like all foods, can be consumed in moderation. Artificial sweeteners provide a way to avoid exceeding the recommended daily limit of sugar.
Even more risky are foods with additive sugars, which means sugar is physically added to a food that has natural sweetness already. For example, frosted flakes have an added sugar coating, as compared to corn flakes. Elyse recommends making the healthy choice to rely more on natural sweetness of Making the healthy choice to rely on the natural sweetness of milk instead of adding sugar.
Elyse Boroski, RDN provides Nutritional Counseling at Perry Memorial Hospital