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What's the Deal With: Sugar Substitutes

What's the Deal With: Sugar Substitutes

I went out for breakfast the other day and on the table sat the cute little container of sugar packets. I'm into the real stuff, so I always choose Sugar in the Raw (it has more nutrients than white sugar), but when I took a closer look, I saw at least 4 other colored packets in there.

Are these sugar substitutes really better for you? Is there some benefit to stirring them into your coffee instead of real sugar?

Basically, Equal, Splenda, and Sweet 'n Low all contain zero calories, fat, sodium, cholesterol, and protein. They contain less than 1g of carbs, so people trying to omit calories and carbs from their diet love these little packets.

OK, sounds like it's too good to be true, so here comes the million dollar question: Are these sugar substitutes safe? The truth is, we just don't know yet. There are no long-term studies of the side effects of artificial sweeteners in humans. The makers of these products did their own short-term studies on rodents and the results showed shrunken thymus glands as well as enlarged livers and kidneys. Since these tests weren't conducted on humans, the FDA decided that the results they were not conclusive. Hmmm.

Want to know about the side effects in humans? Then

Some people already experience headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, numbness, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and skin rashes. I'll take calories over stomach pains any day. It's totally your personal preference though. Some people may use artificial sweeteners and not feel any side effects.

Just for fun, now a lawsuit has been thrown at the situation. Equal is suing the makers of Splenda for misleading consumers with the advertising motto "Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar." Splenda assures us that the process does in fact start with actual sugar, but at th end of the day, Equal is claiming that Splenda is a chemical just like Equal.

Fit's Tips: Just so you know, 1 heaping teaspoon of sugar, or 1 sugar cube, contains only 25 calories. 1 packet of sugar contains 15 calories and 1 packet of Sugar in the Raw contains about 20 calories. We're not talking about a tremendous amount of calories here, and since I don't like eating artificial foods, I'd go for the Sugar in the Raw.

Join The Conversation
mandiesoh mandiesoh 10 years
yea, i used to use subs when i first started out drinking coffee. as you grow to appreciate it, i find the sweetness masks the original taste! plus all the health reasons of course. but i didnt experience any probs too. still, better safe than sorry! :D
SU3 SU3 10 years
same here mandiesoh - but when I've used artificial sweeteners (mostly Splenda) in the past... I've never had any of those problems. Interesting article though.
mandiesoh mandiesoh 10 years
this is why i drink my coffee & tea WITHOUT sugar. :D no risks!
wackdoodle wackdoodle 10 years
If I use anything at all its the artificial sweetners (I use splenda) all the way. Even when offered natural low calorie sweetners like agave or prickle pear I have to decline them. I gotta stick with what I know won't cause me to to get physically ill. I am a severe migrainuer (6 to 7 chronic migraines a week) and as a fairly recent post-operative gastric bypass patient (less than 7 months) and artificial sweetners haven't caused any migraines or dumping or blood sugar issues for me. People are making to many simple cause and effect leaps when it comes to these artificial sweetners. Like sweet-n-low I remember the deal with it causing cancer in lab mice and the warning on the packet. Then the FDA said OOPS! the studies were majorly flawed because all the lab mice were fed was sweet-n-low like 2000 times the amount a human would consume in a lifetime and mice have an enzyme in their stomaches or blood stream that humans don't produce and that enzyme and the saccarin plus the huge concentrate amount of sweet-n-low in their small bodies were why the mice got cancer. But mind you never every little mouse got cancer. There's a terrific book about that whole failed study can't recall the name. Darn.
gigglesss gigglesss 10 years
there has* erg i cant type today
gigglesss gigglesss 10 years
ive read various articles that artificial sweetners are a great cause of breast cancer.My grandmother has always used sweet n low.and She was diagnosed with breast cancer just a year ago.No one in our family has had any sort of cancer.They has been some talk that it could do with that. but were not very sure..
purrtykitty purrtykitty 10 years
I've also heard that artificial sugars make some people crave sugar even more. I don't know if that's true, but it makes some sense to me.
Beautifulbarbie Beautifulbarbie 10 years
I dont use artificial anything. I have read some bad things about them.
bfly1133 bfly1133 10 years
I am right with you Butrfly! I get severe migraines from any artificial sweetner and I can't tell you how many times I have tried a product without knowing it was in there. Most companies do a good job, but not all of them.
brazilnut brazilnut 10 years Fit, you may want to check out this site about "Raw Sugar". In college I had to do some work with the FDA and a lot of the feedback (reports, pictures) we got from those who reviewed the manufacturers of the "brown" packet, they were pretty nasty (filthy plant, teeming with rats,etc.) I won't touch the stuff!
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 10 years
BeeMoney, I've heard that too...but I heard it can cause it in babies if you use it during pregnancy (it doesn't process right and sits in the bladder). I'm trying to not use stuff like this, because I really get enough with the diet soda I drink. Although I do use half a packet of Equal with my red teas that need to be sweetened - honey just doesn't taste right with them. I use cinnoman with a littl bit of sugar in my black tea. I've always been scared of Splenda. It just never seemed right. I read and that scared me even more. I say "I'm not jumping on the Splenda bandwagon." Maybe it will never hurt a soul, but it's fine for me that I'll never know because I really don't need the things they make it with. It bugs me when people don't mention its in their foods, though (Weight-Control oatmeal, light ocean-spray juices, etc).
hingham hingham 10 years
I use to put 1 Equal in my coffee everyday for the past four years. Since I stopped four months ago due to recent news linking it to all sorts of issues I have not experienced one migraine. My migraines would hit at least three times a month and last for at least two days at a time. Who knew that something so little would have such a huge impact on my life.
lovekailua lovekailua 10 years
i love sugar in the raw! plus it is from maui so...yum
BeeMoney BeeMoney 10 years
I use artificial sweetner in my coffee every morning and in my unsweet tea at lunch. I'm fine so far. I did read something in a magazine that said the pink is associated with a risk of bladder cancer (if you consume 5 or more packs a day), there is less risk with the blue, and that splenda is the best choice for your health. But who knows!
cams cams 10 years
Yeah but in that study with rats they gave the the equivalent of 800 diet cokes/day. Plus, they go on to say that the mechanism that caused the rats to get cancer doesn't exist in humans. These are safe for the most part. Plus, don't they dissolve better? I dont drink tea/coffee but thats what everyone says
ccsugar ccsugar 10 years
My sister always gets lower GI issues when she eats Splenda. I've never had a problem with any of them. I guess it's just a matter of opinion.. what's worse, a sweetner made from chemicals w/no calories, or natural sugar with calories?
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