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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

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
Shikha Sharma
Hindustan Times
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.

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

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.
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.

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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First Published: Oct 02, 2014 15:00 IST

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