Sugar substitutes, high-intensity sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, nonnutritive sweeteners, low-calorie sweeteners–with so many different products on the market its easy to see how the public can have a hard time keep up with changing trends. Luckily, we’re here to help break it down.
To begin with, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed several products and has approved or recognized them as safe for the public including people with diabetes. These are:
- Luo han guo (or monk fruit)
Most of these products are not broken down by the body, this means they pass through our system without providing calories. For some folks, using these products are great alternatives to sugar. The potential decrease in calories and carbohydrates, could lead to better long-term blood sugar, weight, and/or cardiometabolic health (think: heart and metabolism).
A word of caution–the sweeteners themselves may not add calories, but many foods that use these products may have calories and carbohydrates from other ingredients. Claims like "sugar-free," "reduced sugar" or "no sugar added" are not necessarily carbohydrate-free or lower in carbohydrate than the original version of the food. For this reason, we recommend that you read the nutrition facts label to understand how many carbs and calories you are eating.
No calories, no carbs–this may sound like music to some people’s ears, but the benefits aren’t really as clear cut. At this time there is no clear evidence that using sugar substitutes help with blood sugar, weight or cardiometabolic health in the long run.
Also, using sugar substitutes doesn’t make an unhealthy choice, healthy. It just means its less unhealthy.
- Sugar-substitutes are great alternatives to sugar for some people, but not a perfect fit for all–it’s a personal choice.
- If you’re looking to reduce your intake of sugar or sugar substitutes start slowly. For example, start by replacing one soda or juice with water or a no-calorie drink.
- Water will always be a great choice! If you start feeling yourself get bored with just water, you can always spruce it up with fruits or herbs like this sparkling strawberry mint infused water.