Artificial sweeteners have been in existence since 1879. They are also known as non-nutritive sweeteners, sugar substitutes, low-calorie sweeteners, and no-calorie sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes and natural sugar substitutes derived from naturally occurring substances such as herbs and sugar itself.
Some artificial sweeteners have higher degrees of sweetness than sugar, while others have low degrees of sweetness.
They can be found in diet sodas, processed grains, yogurts, flavored water, toothpaste, and cosmetics.
Most times, people prefer artificial sweeteners to sugar because they contain low levels of calories and are believed to help prevent diabetes.
What are the types of artificial sweeteners? What are the health effects of artificial sweeteners? The answers to these frequently asked questions are in this article.
Types Of Artificial Sweeteners
This is the most accepted and the oldest artificial sweetener. It was discovered in 1879 at the laboratory of Ira Remsen at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) by Constantin Fahlberg.
Saccharine does not contain any calories, and it does not alter the blood sugar levels when consumed. Its level of sweetness is much higher than that of sucrose (table sugar).
Saccharine was banned in 1977 by the FDA due to a Canadian study that showed that it caused bladder tumors in rats, but after a series of studies carried out on humans, it was discovered that it does not have this effect on humans.
It can be found in jams, chewing gum, canned fruit, candy dessert, toppings, and tabletop sweeteners. It is also used in the production of cosmetic products, pharmaceutical products, and vitamins.
Sucralose (also known as Splenda) can be used in hot and cold foods, including in baking. It is also used in the production of processed foods.
In 1999, sucralose was approved as a general-purpose sweetener by the FDA. Its level of sweetness is higher than that of table sugar. It is considered safe for consumption except for people with phenylketonuria.
Sucralose can be found in soft drinks, iced syrups, sauces, teas, chewing gum, power bars, protein powders, and baked goods.
This is a low-calorie sweetener that is sweeter than normal sugar. It is used in the production of soft drinks, cereals, breath mints, chewing gum, and hard candies. It can also be found in low-calorie tabletop sweeteners.
It is safe except for those with a rare disorder called phenylketonuria, which doesn’t allow the body to metabolize phenylalanine.
This low-calorie sweetener provides lingering sweetness compared to table sugar and aspartame. It is safe for people with phenylketonuria.
It can be found in products like baked goods, soft drinks and other beverages, chewing gum, confections and frostings, frozen desserts, candies, toppings, and syrups.
Health Effects Of Artificial Sweeteners
Some potential health effects of artificial sweeteners are discussed below:
May cause increased appetite
A lot of people believe that artificial sweeteners help in weight loss. However, studies have shown that artificially sweetened food and drink can leave people feeling hungrier and craving sugar. This is because the brain is confused with a sweet taste but a lack of calories due to the fact that table sugar contains a lot of calories compared to artificial sweeteners.
Increased appetite can lead to overeating, which can, in turn, lead to excessive weight gain or obesity.
A 1987 study shows artificial sweeteners cause a socially important category of psychiatric disturbance — eating disorders.
May alter your mood
Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener that is sweeter than normal sugar.
Studies suggest that the sweetener aspartame can cause depression in some people, especially those with pre-existing mood disorders.
According to an article in the National Library of Medicine, a study carried out on 13 individuals with pre-existing mood disorders suggested that aspartame can cause depression. Studies are still going on to test the authenticity of this effect.
May increase the risk of developing cancer
It is believed that artificial sweeteners can increase the risk of developing cancer, though research is still ongoing. However, a study suggested that saccharines can cause bladder cancer.
May affect gut health
Another one among the negative health effects of artificial sweeteners is that it may affect gut health.
One study found out that artificial sweeteners unsettled gut bacteria balance in the body, which could increase the risk of diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, weakened immune system, and disrupted sleep.
Not suitable for stroke and high blood pressure patients
Some artificial sweeteners can alter the blood pressure causing more havoc to the health of stroke patients and people with high blood pressure. Research is still going on to confirm the authenticity of this fact.
Artificial Sweeteners vs. Sugar: Which Is Better?
Although artificial sweeteners can be 200 to 700 times sweeter than regular sugar, and they don’t contain calories or sugar, but they don’t contain any beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, fiber, minerals or antioxidants.
Furthermore, taking artificial sweeteners can increase your appetite. Sugar is better when taken in limited amounts and in the context of a healthy diet.
Artificial sweeteners can be found in many products that we consume in our daily lives. There are a lot of health effects of artificial sweeteners, as discussed in the articles. However, research is still ongoing to determine the exact health effects on humans. Nonetheless, it is more suitable to consume sucrose (table sugar) than artificial sweeteners.
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