Sugar-Free Foods: Good or Bad?

by in Healthy Tips, May 20, 2011
Artificial Sugars
Artificial sugars may be virtually calorie-free, but should still be consumed in moderation.

They’re marketed as healthier, lower-calorie alternatives to your favorite sugary treats, but are sugar-free foods actually better for you? Well…maybe and maybe not. We’ve got the details on the good and bad of sugar-free foods.


What’s Replacing Sugar?
Some artificial sweeteners are calorie-free, while others come along with a small amount of calories per serving (but those calories can add up if you eat them often). The most popular sweeteners are still those blue, pink and yellow packets, along with the newest sweetener on the block called stevia. When used as food additives, you’ll see them on ingredient lists as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and rebiana.

No matter which type you choose, all faux sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. Despite claims that they’re made from sugar or come from a natural plant source, all have undergone some type of chemical process before they reach your lips. Though research is limited, eating too much of these types of chemically treated sugars has been linked to adverse side effects including stomach upset, blood sugar control issues and increased risk of some types of cancer. Some research also suggests that eating excessive amounts of chemically-sweetened foods will entice the brain to want sugary (and typically less healthy) foods more often – not helpful for the quality of your diet or your waistline.

Read more about the specific dangers associated with popular artificial sweeteners and stevia.

Endless Options
Once only used in a limited number of foods, artificial sweeteners are now lurking in everything from diet sodas and juices to cookies and salad dressings. Manufacturers of light ice creams, low-cal yogurts and diet fruit juices often use artificial sweeteners along with added sugars to cut down on calories. So just because something isn’t labeled “sugar-free” doesn’t mean it won’t contain fake sweeteners.

To confuse things ever further, many foods that do use artificial sweeteners exclusively aren’t always lower in fat or calories than their sugar-containing counterparts. Some brands of sugar free frozen treats, candies and cookies have very similar calorie counts despite their lack of sugar.

Special Needs
There is a time and a place for artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners allow for some additional options for those that suffer from diabetes or folks trying to cut back on sugary food overload. But option for sugar-free alternatives shouldn’t be viewed as a free pass to eat sugar-free fare day in and day out for the reasons mentioned above.

Bottom Line: At 15 calories per teaspoon, a small amount of regular sugar here and there can be worked into anyone’s healthy diet. If you do choose to use artificial sweeteners to help with diabetes, weight management and calorie control, do so in moderation and check ingredient lists — your intake of artificial sweeteners may be more substantial than you think.

TELL US: What’s your take on the faux sugars?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

You Might Also Like:

Similar Posts

5 Easy Meals To Fuel After-School Activities

As every parent knows, the season of running from school to countless extracurricular activities is upon us. How best to get everyone fed along the w...

Comments (1,252)

  1. Anonymous says:

    [...]very handful of internet sites that transpire to become comprehensive beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly effectively really worth checking out[...]…

  2. Witam serdecznie, zapraszam zdecydowanych Panów do mojego prywatnego mieszkanka na spotkanie. Oferuję wszystko co miłe i przyjemne. Zapewniam dyskrecję i tego samego oczekuję. Dzwoniąc rozmawiasz bezpośrednio ze mną, umawiam się na konkretną godzinę. Na pewno nie będziesz rozczarowany. Przyjdź a sam się przekonasz i nie pożałujesz.

  3. remarkably stimulating…

    Good day Moreover due to that there. I found an internet site utilizing messenger. With this particular states history the perfectly designed composed item. I can certainly ensure toward recognise which once more along using return on route to check ou…

  4. training wild horses…

    [...]Sites of interest we’ve a link to[...]…

  5. clickbank software affiliate…

    [...]please go to the sites we adhere to, like this a single, because it represents our picks in the web[...]…

  6. Kacy Dotie says:

    Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is magnificent, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Sugar-Free Foods: Good or Bad? | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog .

  7. bulged befektetesi…

    pevsner manouba kuchebis headway bookser comjl baksos….

  8. Hanh Kassa says:

    Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Sugar-Free Foods: Good or Bad? | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog .

  9. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is excellent, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Sugar-Free Foods: Good or Bad? | Healthy Eats – Food Network Healthy Living Blog .

  10. Rift Plat…

    I saw this really good post today….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>