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Are artificial sweeteners too sweet to be good?

From saccharin to stevia, as the world increasingly turns to artificial sweeteners, we put a few to the test. While artificial sweeteners have zero calories as compared to sugar, toxicity studies for sweeteners are still under a cloud of controversy, writes Skhikha Sharma.

brunch Updated: Oct 04, 2014 17:20 IST
Shikha Sharma
artificial sweetners

Dr-Shikha-Sharma

Artificial sweetners have been around since 1879, when a scientist working at the Johns Hopkins University in the US, noticed that a compound made from coal tar which had accidentally fallen on his hand, tasted very sweet. He realised it could be used as an artificial sweetener.



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Today it is known as saccharin. Other compounds are also used as sweeteners. Here’s a list, together with their health effects.


Saccharin
Brand name: Sweet ’N Low
Calories: 0
Found in: Drinks, canned goods, candy, diabetic products.
Health alert: In the US, saccharin is approved as a special dietary sweetener specifically for beverages and tabletop products, as long as specific maximum amounts are not exceeded.


http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/10/0510brpg13b.jpgSucralose
Brand name: Splenda
Calories: 0
Found in: Fruit drinks, canned fruit, syrups.
Health alert: Sucralose received FDA approval in 1998, and although one study showed it may negatively impact the immune system, follow-up studies did not find such an effect.


Acesulfame potassium
Brand Name: Sweet One
Calories: 0
Found in: Beverages, gum, oral hygiene products, frozen desserts, chocolates.
Health alert: First approved by the FDA in 1988, it is 200 times sweeter than sugar.


Aspartame
Brand name: Equal, NutraSweet
Calories: 0
Found in: Drinks, chewing gum, yogurt, cough drops, toothpaste.
Health alert: Approved by the FDA in 1981, it is 200 times sweeter than sugar. When ingested, it is broken down in the body, but not metabolised further. It is approved as a general purpose sweetener, but is dangerous for people with a genetic disorder called Phenylketonuria.


Stevia (Rebiana)
Brand names: Stevia, Truvia, Pure Via
Calories: 0
Found in: Diet drinks, yogurts. Health alert: Refined stevia products were approved by the FDA in 2008. However, toxicologists from UCLA have expressed reservations about Stevia.
This is part two of a two-part series.

From HT Brunch, October 5
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