The artificial sweetener mystery

It is general knowledge that sugar is the devil. It has pretty much single-handedly led to the American obesity epidemic as well as the widespread increase in diabetes. We should all switch to artificial sweeteners. Wait, no-they cause cancer. Shoot. Oh wait, it’s okay…someone invented Splenda. Dang it-that can cause weight gain. Phew-there are natural sweeteners like agave and honey. What do you mean they have as many calories as sugar? What’s that? I should just eat good old-fasioned sugar because it’s what our much healthier ancestors ate?

Confused? Me too. Luckily I found this great article on MayoClinic.com that set out to try to separate fact from fiction regarding the different sweeteners available. One of the main things that I learned from the article is that one of the primary studies that led people to believe artificial sweeteners cause cancer was a study in the 1970’s that indicated saccharin caused bladder cancer in rats. Really? That’s why pregnant women had to give up diet soda for decades? Turns out no current study has demonstrated a health risk due to consumption of artificial sweeteners. Also, artificial sweeteners are regulated by the FDA and are generally considered safe for use. This doesn’t mean we can consume all we want of course-there are still the current studies that indicate artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain. Why? Although there are lots of theories out there, no one really knows.

I know I personally use both agave nectar and regular sugar. Agave nectar is supposed to be all natural and better for you, right? Not really. It has the same amount of calories per serving as sugar, and causes the same insulin response. I will say that I like it because I find I need to use less of it than I do granulated sugar. But that’s a personal preference.

I really recommend reading the article as I think it is pretty informative, but if you don’t feel like taking the time I’ll break it down for you: consume everything in moderation and you should be fine. I’m really thinking they might be serious about this moderation thing. Huh.

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