Millions of people are turning to artificial sweeteners in a bid to lose weight and, presumably, gain health. Artificial sweeteners using ingredients such as aspartame, sodium saccharine, sucralose, acesulfame-K and others are growing at the expense of sugar (of which sales have been in decline over the past few years).
In fact, sugar sales are down so much that Silver Spoon, the big boys in the sugar world, have been heavily marketing their own acesulfame-K and aspartame laden sweetener.
So is it really worth using sweeteners instead of sugar?
Well, the Telegraph article hits upon perhaps the least important variable in the decision to use sweeteners – taste. However, if the sweetener companies are to be believed then shouldnt the decision to forgo the taste of sugar be made due to the health benefits of replacing sugar with their brand of sweetener?
For the majority of consumers this makes sense: less sugar = more healthy, right? Not necessarily. There are many, many conflicting research reports out there – some saying that the ingredients in sweeteners are safe, some saying they are not and some being not too sure.
As ever, and as seen with the dairy industry – there is a separate, huge debate about the validity of these research studies as most of the positive research has been conducted by researchers who have been funded by the sweetener companies.
But to me, this is all much of a muchness – as the most important questions are these:
- What foods and drinks do you/would you use sweeteners in anyway – aren’t these things bad for you regardless of whether they have got sugar or an artificial sweetener in there to make them tasty?; and
- Is using a sweetener that, without doubt, contains chemicals and refined, unnatural ingredients an answer regardless of whose research you chose to believe?
I would wholeheartedly conclude that wouldn’t it be better to cut the foods that contain sugar/sweeteners from your diet one-by-one and end the whole debate?