Natural Sugar vs. Artificial Sugar
It is believed by many people that artificial sugar is a healthier alternative to natural sugar, but is this true? Using Splenda, Sweet'n Low, or NutraSweet instead of the real thing may have shocking effects on your health.
What exactly is natural sugar? Well, natural sugar or sucrose is a carbohydrate that naturally comes from fruits and vegetables. Natural sugar contains 16 calories per teaspoon which may not sound like much, but it can build up to a lot of calories. This is the kind of sugar that is usually found in foods that are tastier and consist of a high amount of fat. Glenn D. Braunstein, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, says:
The American Heart Association (AHA) is reporting that Americans are eating about 22 teaspoons of sugar (or 350 calories) every day from the "added sugar" in processed foods and beverages.
This shows how the calories of natural sugar can quickly build up. It is said that sugar should not exceed 10% of your daily calories. So, an average-sized adult's 10% of calories would equal about 3 tablespoons or 9 teaspoons. 9 teaspoons would be 144 calories. According to the quote from the American Heart Association, Americans are taking in over 2 times the calories they should be. There are a number of health risks associated with sugar consumption, such as:
- Increase in weight
- Elevation in triglyceride levels
- Depresses immune system
- Increase in insulin level
- Higher blood pressure
- Higher cholesterol
Now, it might sound like natural sugar is only bad for you, however, that is not completely true. If you have natural sugar, it is guaranteed that natural sugar is produced without any synthetic pesticides or herbicides. Any health problems associated with sugar are due to taking in too much of it, such as diabetes and tooth decay. Natural sugar is okay for you as long as you don't overindulge in it.
What are these artificial sugars? They are basically the substances that are difficult to pronounce in the ingredients of a product. There are 5 particularly popular artificial sugars used in food:
- Saccharin: seen in Sweet'N Low, Sweet and Low, Sweet Twin, and Nectra Sweet
- Aspartame: seen in Nutrasweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin
- Sucralose: seen in Splenda
- Acesulfame or Acesulfame Potassium: seen in Sunett and Sweet One
Most people see these as healthier alternatives to using natural sugar, but are they better for you? The reason that artificial sugar is seen as a healthy alternative to natural sugar is because artificial sugar does contain less calories than natural sugar, however, not everything is as good as it sounds.
For a while, there have been claims saying that the use of artificial sugars have caused health problems such as headaches and cancer, most commonly bladder cancer. It is also said that artificial sugars can make you hungrier, which is, obviously, not beneficial to human health.
For more information on the dangers of artificial sugars, refer to the article titled "The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners."
Alternatives to Satisfy Sweetness
When the craving for something sweet is overwhelming, what can one have as a substitute for sugar, natural or artificial? There are many natural alternatives to using natural and artificial sugars such as:
- Agave nectar
- Maple sugar
- Maple syrup
- Sugar alcohols like Erythritol and Isomalt
- Brown rice syrup
- Barley malt syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
For more alternatives to natural sugar and artificial sugar, try some of the links at the bottom of the page.