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Natural vs Artificial Sweeteners – What you need to know

Posted by: Patrick Catanzariti on February 17, 2017


How much do you really know about the sweeteners out there? With so many products on our shelves these days, sometimes it’s just easier to numbingly stroll the aisles of a supermarket throwing this, that and everything in without considering what ingredients actually make up our food.

Thankfully the sugar-free food movement has garnered tremendous support in recent years, helping thousands of people recognise what they should be fuelling their body with, and subsequently improving their health and achievement of weight loss goals. Lately, defiant corporate brands started to place nasty artificial sweeteners into their food and drinks that previously contained sugar, calling them ‘low-sugar’, ‘diet’ or ‘zero’ products. While some of us may read the labelling on the things we buy, we cannot always be assured of understanding the scientific jargon or alternative names of chemicals found in the small print.

Our latest survey ‘Artificial vs Natural Sweeteners – Do you really know the difference?’ showed that almost 6 in 10 people can understand food labelling at supermarkets by studying every ingredient line on the product. Alternatively, one-third of people believe it’s too complicated and time-consuming to try to understand product ingredients on labels. But don’t worry, we can explain…

What is an artificial sweetener?

Artificial sweeteners are chemically manufactured molecules that do not exist in nature. They are essentially lab products formed under names such as:

  • Sucralose
  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Neotome
  • Acesulfame Potassium (ACE K)

Consumption of artificial sweeteners found in soft drink, biscuits, lollies and tabletop sweeteners among other things, is associated with concerning health effects including:

  • Hypertension
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Disruption of normal serotonin levels leading to depressive disorders
  • Overeating

In fact, the Research Journal of Food Science said, “The more artificial sweeteners we use, the more we crave, which may increase our overall calorie intake and make it difficult to lose weight.”

What is a natural sweetener?

On the other hand, a natural sweetener comes naturally in fresh foods or plants – and may or may not contain glucose or fructose. Examples include:

  • Fruit
  • Raw honey
  • Stevia
  • Maple syrup
  • Blackstrap molasses

Stevia, derived from the Stevia Rebaudiana plant, does not contain sugar and therefore has many benefits when substituted in for other sugars, including:

  • No impact on blood sugar levels
  • Zero calories
  • Zero Glycaemic Index
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced oxidative stress in the body
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Decreased risk of stroke

Our survey revealed that 75% of you claimed to know the difference between an artificial and natural sweetener. Good work!

Almost everyone correctly identified sucralose and aspartame as artificial sweeteners, however 15% of respondents also believed fructose and lactose to be possible artificial sweeteners. These latter two are actually natural products, as fructose is the sugar found in fruit and lactose the sugar found in dairy products such as milk. In saying that, fructose is commonly extracted from fruit in order to create high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which started to replace sucrose (table sugar) in many western countries in the second half of the 20th century. The evidence so far suggests that consuming HFCS too often can lead to a host of health problems associated with sugar such as weight gain, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Finally, we discovered that one-third of you will always choose a natural sweetener over an artificial sweetener regardless of price. Nice going! A whopping 98% of people correctly identified stevia and coconut sugar as natural sweetener alternatives, so we are confident that people out there know what their choices are.

Tell us if you’ve made the change from artificial to natural sweeteners in your life and how it’s impacted your health. Are you with us?

Send email to [email protected]

artificial vs natural sweeteners infographic




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