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What’s Sweetening Your Diet Soda?

With obesity rates surging not only in North America but the UK, nearly everyone is on the lookout for an easy way to cut calories without giving up sugary foods and drinks.

Too many sweets can increase your chances of gaining weight which in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes. An acceptable sugar substitute in food would lessen that risk but are we trading one problem for another?

What’s the Latest?
Last December 2008, FDA approved a sweetener marketed under the names Truvia and PureVia. Rebaudioside A, one of the components of the stevia plant is extracted and used as a sugar substitute. The stevia plant grows in Paraguay and Brazil and has been used for centuries in South America.

Although Truvia and PureVia are now deemed to be safe for human consumption many experts feel that it’s premature and more studies should be conducted before allowing Truvia and PurVia to be added to food and beverages.

Artificial sweeteners have been available since 1870 when saccharin was discovered and used in chewing gum, soda, and breath mints. However, subsequent studies revealed that saccharin caused cancer in rats and in 1970s the substance was banned.

New products thought to be safe soon entered the market and became increasingly popular. “Sugar-Free” became synonymous with “no calories” encouraging guilt-free consumption.

Here is a review of the best-known sugar alternatives currently in use:

  • Aspartame is sold under the brand names Equal and NutraSweet. Numerous studies have shown a link to a variety of cancers. One study pointed to a higher risk of developing brain tumours, lymphoma and leukemia.
  • Sucralose is marketed under the name Splenda. Some studies have suggested that although it is used as a sugar substitute it may actually promote weight gain. There is also some evidence that sucralose could have a harmful effect on the digestive system.
  • Cyclamate is also known as sodium cyclamate and calcium cyclamate. Sweet ‘N Low is a brand name for one artificial sweetener that contains cyclamate. Numerous studies have linked cyclamate to cancer in animals.

Many years ago, the famous film star Gloria Swanson was reputed to have said” I wouldn’t put sugar in my cupboard, let alone in my body.” Before jumping to diet sodas and artificial sweeteners, perhaps we should consider moderation.

By Natasha Morgan of Not Just The Kitchen

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