SICKLY SWEET: Part 5

What About Artificial Sweeteners?

As their name suggests artificial sweeteners are well, artificial.  They don’t come from the ground but instead are made in a laboratory.  Yep, we’ve figured out how to mix chemicals to replicate the sweetness of sugar.  Are they harmful? Who knows – for every ‘there is no proof’ argument there is a counterclaim of ‘cause cancer’.  Without the proper (and again, unethical) human trials no one will ever know, but what I do know is that sweeteners which are 13,000 times sweeter (Neotame) than cane sugar (how do they measure that?!) can’t be good for anyone.  When you reach for your favourite soda drink with ‘no sugar’ – remember, the manufacturer has substituted real sugar for an artificial sweetener.  If there was truthfully NO SUGAR in soda drink it would be undrinkable (more accurately – unsalable).  This was the case in the mid 90’s when Pepsi acquired the rights to market the new sports drink ‘Gatorade’.  The formula for the drink was changed by Pepsi and in went a bucket load of sugar so that consumers would find it more appealing.

Your willingness to consume these chemicals comes down to individual preference.  For me, I avoid them totally as the after taste makes me want to wash my mouth out with bi-carb soda. The new kid on the block – Stevia – is now proving popular as an alternative to ‘real sugar’.  It’s not artificially made as it comes from a broad-leafed plant in South America commonly known as ‘sweet leaf’.  Again, it all comes down to taste and whether you believe the after-effects from alternative sweet additives are harmful.

How Can I Tell if an Artificial Sweetener has been added?

Easy.  Just look in the list of ingredients on the bottle/packet.  Some manufacturers will use the ‘chemical’ name or the ‘brand’ name.  The main sweeteners are: Acesulfame Potassium (Sunett);  Aspartame and Neotame (Nutrasweet); Cyclamate (Sweet-N-Low); Saccharin; Sucralose (Splenda).