Artificial Sweeteners - Are They Safe?
To research the health risks Sweet 'N Low and other artificial sweeteners I examined both sides of the story. There seems to be no neutral position on any of these sweeteners.
Sugar has become the #2 dietary concerns, following only fat content.
There are 3 general reasons for using artificial sweeteners; weight loss, dental hygiene, and for diabetics. Just like almost everything in life used in moderation there seems to be few health affects.
The reduction in calories comes from the lower quantity needed to add the sweet taste. Wanting something sweet is a natural reaction we are born with. Remember that sugar is a natural product and one that our body is able to metabolize from birth.
From a health standpoint I would rather use small amounts of sugar than manmade sweeteners. Better yet, as many doctors agree, wean yourself totally off of sweets. The more natural ingredients in our bodies the easier it is for our bodies to properly metabolize them.
The health risks of Sweet 'N Low appears to be the same as all of the artificial sweeteners. Too much is bad for you, a little is okay, and none is best.
For dieting purposes we are all going to use some type of artificial sweetener. As I keep repeating on this site you know your body better than anyone. If you notice any kind of side affect discontinue use for 2 weeks. Than try it again. If you still have any side affects try a different sweetener.
Let's start by listing the major artificial sweetener ingredients and which major brands use each.
Saccharin - FDA approved 1958- found in Sweet 'N Low (except Canada)
Cyclamate - FDA banned 1969- found in Sweet 'N Low (Canada only)
Aspartame - FDA approved 1981- found in NutraSweet and Equal
Sucralose - FDA approved 1999- found in Splenda
Neotame - FDA approved 2002- not found in many products yet
Xylitol - used in products for diabetics
The health risks of Sweet 'N Low are directly related to saccharin. Saccharin is 300 times as sweet as sugar. Being the oldest FDA approved sweetener in widespread use it has undergone many trials and tests. In the 1970's the FDA required warning labels. In 2000 the warning labels were removed. Bladder cancer is the major issue with saccharin. Canada has banned saccharin while allowing cyclamate. The U. S. banned cyclamate but allows saccharin. Both of these bans resulted from the same 1960's tests. Most nutritionists seem to agree that moderate use of saccharin causes no major health risk. Cancer found in lab animals resulted from very large doses of saccharin.
NutraSweet and Equal use aspartame as a sweetener. Aspartame is 160 times as sweet as sugar. It is more expensive than saccharin and not as sweet but it has a better taste. Many conditions have been blamed on aspartame but only one has been proven. Women with advanced liver disease or PKU (phenylketonuria) should never use aspartame. The sweet taste of aspartame is lost during cooking so do not use it in place of sugar in recipes.
NutraSweet has introduced another form of aspartame called neotame. It is very similar with 2 major exceptions. Neotame does not lose its sweet taste during cooking and there is no danger of PKU. At the current time there are very few products using it.
Sucralose is the sweetener used in Splenda. It is 600 times as sweet as sugar. Being the new kid on the block it is just now beginning to be scrutinized in greater detail. Dr. Joseph Mercola is leading the charge against sucralose. However the Center for Science in the Public Interest ranks it the safest of all sweeteners. Its claim that it is made from sugar seems to be true but not true. All resemblance to sugar is lost in the processing. There are 6 lawsuits saying just that and claiming false advertising. According to Dr. Mercola the FDA rushed sucralose into the approved category with only 2 trials being completed prior to approval. Apparently no tests were done on children or pregnant women. Everyone's body is different so metabolism rates vary greatly but at least 15% remains in your body. This is one sweetener I will keep monitoring and report any new developments. For now no side affects have been proven.
The sweetener Xylitol is more well known to those suffering from diabetes. It looks and tastes like sugar but does not require insulin in order to be metabolized because it is absorbed so slowly. It is also known as wood sugar because it originally came from birch. The sweetness is equal to sugar. Made popular in Finland the U. S. Army is going to start adding xylitol-sweetened gum to its MRE (meals ready to eat). It has actually been shown to have benefits to your teeth, including repairing small cavities. For those on a diet it should be said that xylitol has 40% less calories than sugar.
Although banned in the U. S., cyclamate, is the sweetener in the Canadian version of Sweet 'N Low. It is 30 times as sweet as sugar and leaves no after taste. The health risks of Sweet 'N Low in the U. S. is the same as those for cyclamate in Canada. Studies in the 1960's linked cyclamate and saccharin to bladder cancer in lab rats. The Canadians read the results one way while the U. S. read them another. Some manufacturers in the U. S. have asked for re-approval of cyclamate. There are 55 countries that have approved cyclamate sweetener.