The Pros and Cons of Using Sugar Substitutes

The Pros and Cons of Using Sugar Substitutes

Eating too much sugar can be harmful to your health, particularly if you have diabetes. Sugar quickly absorbs into the blood, raising blood sugar levels. In most people, the body releases insulin to bring blood sugar back down to a safe level, but in people with diabetes, sugar levels can stay high for a long time. This can cause problems with the eyes, kidneys, and other organs. Even if you don't have diabetes, eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other major health problems.

Why use sugar substitutes?

By using sugar substitutes instead of sugar, you can reduce your total sugar intake. This helps to keep your blood sugar levels in a safe range and could even help you to lose weight. If you need to stick to a low-sugar diet due to diabetes, then sugar substitutes allow you to enjoy sweet treats without worrying about your blood glucose levels.

Pros of sugar substitutes

Despite public wariness of artificial sweeteners, research has found no evidence linking them to cancer in humans. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved many artificial sugar substitutes as safe for humans to use, including aspartame, saccharin and sucralose, which are known by the brand names Equal, Sweet'N Low and Splenda, respectively.

Saccharin, aspartame and sucralose are much sweeter than sugar, so you only need to use a tiny amount to get the same sweetness as when you use sugar. Therefore, you consume far fewer calories, which could help you lose weight.

If you prefer to use natural sugar substitutes, then there are options for you. Truvia, also known as stevia, is a plant extract that tastes sweet but has far fewer calories than sugar.

Cons of sugar substitutes

One group of sugar substitutes, known as sugar alcohols, can cause intestinal gas and diarrhea when eaten in large quantities. Two of the most common sugar alcohols are sorbitol and xylitol. Although most people can eat up to 50 grams of these sweeteners without problems, some people experience bloating and gas after consuming as little as 10 grams.

Sugar substitutes don't taste exactly the same as natural sugar. Therefore, some people prefer to skip sugar substitutes and simply eat sugary foods less often or in smaller quantities. If you do want to use sugar substitutes, try several brands to find the one that tastes the best to you.

Research suggests that sugar substitutes pose no long-term health risks, although certain types of sweeteners can cause short-term digestive issues in some people. If you need to lose weight or carefully control your blood glucose levels, then using a sugar substitute instead of sugar could be an easy first step toward achieving your goals.