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Artificial Sweetener: Good or Bad?

Article by Ken Chang

Artificial sweeteners are also known as non-nutritive sweeteners. Basically, they offer the same delicious sweet taste as sugar, minus the caloric guilt. The average 500ml bottle of cola packs 210kcal, that is equivalent to a bowl of rice. Hence, some people on diet or diabetic would choose their cola with artificial sweeteners. To date, there are 5 artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States (FDA) namely saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. In Malaysia, the most widely used artificial sweeteners are aspartame, saccharin and sucralose.

However, there are some of the concerns over artificial sweeteners use as well. One of it will be more towards the behavioural aspect of things. Some users of artificial sweeteners may overcompensate the saved calories from other sources. For example, a person may eat an addition slice of cheese cake because he drank his tea with artificial sweeteners thinking that he saved on his calorie from sugar.

Besides that, relative to natural sugar, artificial sweeteners are more potent. In other words, we get a higher degree of sweetness from artificial sweeteners gram per gram to natural sugar. Some experts have warned that prolong use of artificial sweeteners may desensitize our sense to sweetness. What that means is that when we are eating less intensely sweet food such as milder fruits, we may grew bored of them. Worst still is that vegetables will be virtually tasteless with routine use of artificial sweeteners.

FDA however, have ruled out the cancer risk of artificial sweeteners. However, the complex nature of its metabolism to date still remains unknown to the current scientific studies.

In totality, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame may be a good replacement for sugar for those who need to cut down on their calorie intake, but it should be use with caution and the correct way to avoid the opposite.

References

1. Gardner C, Rosett JW, Gidding SS, Steffen LM, Johnson R, Reader D, Lichtenstein AH. Circulation. 2012;CIR.0b013e31825c42ee, originally published July 9, 2012

2. Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH. Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward. PLoS One. 2007 Aug 1;2(8):e698.

3. Jennifer A. Nettleton, Pamela L. Lutsey, Youfa Wang, João A. Lima, Erin D. Michos,David R. Jacobs. Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Diabetes Care Apr 2009, 32 (4) 688-694

 

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