Sweeteners: The Good, The Bad And The Dangerous
Part II – Refined and Artificial Sweeteners
Refined Sweeteners – Poor Choices For Health
- White Sugar – refers to the pure white crystals that remain after sugarcane or beets are refined. The chemical name is sucrose. To produce white sugar, this product goes through a series of washings, filterings and bleachings. Since raw sugarcane is brown and sticky, most refineries use a filtering agent to remove the molasses and create a free-flowing sugar. This sugar has virtually no nutritional value. It is known to cause cavities and host of other health problems.
- Brown Sugar – is mostly white sugar flavored with molasses. Its brown color comes from a charcoal treatment that may introduce traces of carcinogenic impurities, resulting in a product that is more refined and possibly more harmful than white sugar.
- Fructose – powdered fructose is often extracted from sugarcane, beet sugar or corn syrup. In processing, the sucrose molecule breaks down into two simple sugars – fructose and glucose. This makes fructose more processed than white sugar and a worse choice for health. Calorically, fructose is equivalent to sugar, but it is sweeter, so less is needed. Though fructose is often recommended for diabetics because it doesn’t affect blood sugar and insulin levels like sucrose, it actually is more likely to cause insulin resistance.
- Corn Syrup – and High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) are highly refined sweeteners made from corn. It is considerably cheaper than sugar, which accounts for its popularity in processed food. Manufactures make high-fructose corn syrup by converting some of the dextrose in corn syrup to fructose. High fructose consumption is in fact a primary contributor to most chronic disease states, starting with insulin resistance, which can then progress into related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more. Fruit juices, sodas, other beverages and processed foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup should be avoided.
- Table syrup – (includes maple-flavored syrup, pancake syrup and waffle syrup) is often confused with pure maple syrup. These syrups can actually look and taste like maple syrup but they are made from a blend of sweeteners with emulsifiers, stabilizers, salt, viscosity adjusting agents, acidifiers, alkalizers or buffers, defoaming agents, artificial flavors and colors, additives, chemical preservatives and fats and oils, as desired by the manufacturer. All these additives are not healthful and contribute to the body’s burden of toxicity. This types of syrups should be avoided.
Artificial Sweeteners – Avoid This Fakes!
The body doesn’t recognize any of them because they are foreign substances that have undergone molecular changes. Such substances are not found in nature and have produced negative results for many people. The body doesn’t know what to do with them.
- Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low) – artificial sweeteners were first introduced decades ago as saccharin, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It was later packaged under the brand name Sweet ‘n Low and in 1977 it was found to cause bladder cancer in lab animals.
Many studies continue to link saccharin to serious health conditions. Sadly, it’s the primary sweetener for children’s medications, including chewable aspirin, cough syrup, and other over-the-counter and prescription medications. It’s believed that saccharin contributes to photosensitivity, nausea, digestive upset, tachycardia and some types of cancer.
- Aspartame – popularly known as Equal or NutraSweet, is the most widely used artificial sweetener today. It is 180 times sweeter than sugar. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption. Aspartame may contribute to headaches, mood changes, neurological disorders, seizure and brain tumors.
Products that contain aspartame: carbonated softdrinks, chewable vitamins, sugar-free cough drops, tabletop sweeteners, yogurt. If you want to avoid aspartame, the easiest way to do this is to check the labels before buying or eating foods or drinks.
- Sucralose – sold under the brand name Splenda. To make sucralose, three components of a sugar molecule are replaced with three chlorine components. It is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and has no calories.
It’s earned a reputation for being somehow safer than other artificial sweeteners like aspartame, which is why PepsiCo ditched aspartame in its Diet Pepsi in 2015 and replaced it with none other than Splenda.
If you’ve added Splenda to your diet because you think it’s a healthy alternative to sugar, you’re being dangerously misled. Research from the Ramazzini Institute has linked the popular sugar alternative to cancer, specifically leukemia.
- Acesulfame K (ACE-K) – commonly known as Sweet One and Sunett – composed of a potassium salt that contains methylene chloride. It has a similar molecular structure as saccharin with no caloric value. It is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose.
It is routinely found in sugar-free chewing gum, alcoholic beverages, candies and even sweetened yogurts. It is stable in high-heat situations and therefore often used in baked products. The human body can’t break it down, and it’s believed to negatively affect the metabolism.
It has been shown to cause nausea, mood problems, possibly some types of cancer, impaired liver and kidney function, problems with eyesight. It’s often used in combination with aspartame and other noncaloric sweeteners.
Where Dangerous Artificial Sweeteners Hide
People are often surprised at how often dangerous artificial sweeteners are included in prepared foods, medications and beverages. Here are a few surprising examples of where to check for the dangerous sweeteners mentioned above.
- Toothpaste and mouthwash
- Children’s chewable vitamins
- Cough syrup and liquid medicines
- Chewing gum
- No-calorie waters and drinks
- Alcoholic beverages
- Salad dressings
- Frozen yogurt and other frozen deserts
- Baked goods
- Breakfast cereals
- Processed snack foods
- Fruit juices and beverages
- Prepared meats
- Nicotine gum
It appears that every artificial sweetener that has been studied has had adverse effects on the body. It is wise to stick with natural sweeteners that body can recognize.
Cherie Calbom, The Coconut Diet, Warber Books, USA, 2005
Nikki and David Goldbeck, The Goldbecks’ Giude to Good Food
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