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The 411 on Natural and Artificial Sweeteners

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An illustration depicting packets of artificial sweetener. Everyone seems to have their own preference on what type of sweetener they like to cook/bake with, or have in their coffee. It can be really confusing as to what types of sweeteners are healthier. Well, the truth is, every sweetener has its own pros and cons. Here’s a list of some common sweeteners that can help you decide which is best for you and your family.

Natural:

Sugar/Sucrose:

  • What: white granules distilled from sugar cane or sugar beets. Brown sugar has added molasses.
  • 1 tsp. = 16 calories or 4 gm
  • According to the American Heart Association we should have no more than 6 tsp (24 g) of added sugar per day, but many of us get about 22 tsp (88 gm) per day.

Agave/Agave nectar

  • What: Sweet liquids from the Agave plant
  • Lower glycemic index sweetener: it doesn't spike blood as quickly as table sugar
  • 25% sweeter than sugar

Stevia /Truvia/PureVia/Sun Crystals/rebiana

  • What: no-calorie sweetener from the Stevia plant
  • Can be baked with at medium temperatures.

Nectresse:

  • What: zero-calorie sweetener made from monk fruit
  • Each packet= sweetness of 2 tsp sugar, can be used for baking

Artificial:

Sucralose/ Splenda

  • What: Sugar that has been chemically altered to have no calories
  • 600 x sweeter than sugar, can be used for baking. Safe for diabetics

High fructose corn syrup/HFCS

  • What: Sweet liquid derived from corn starch
  • Found in almost everything

Saccharin/ Sweet N’ Low

  • What: Safe for diabetics, calorie-free synthetic compound
  • 300 x sweeter than sugar, can have a metallic aftertaste. Has been linked to bladder cancer in rats, experts have found no conclusive evidence of its correlation with cancer in humans.

Aspartame/ Nutrasweet/ Equal

  • What: Safe for diabetics, calorie free sweetener
  • 200 x sweeter than sugar. Should not be used for baking
  • 1

Tags: Healthy Eating

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MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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