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

Can Butter Be Part of a Healthy Diet? (Seriously, Now.)

The old butter verses margarine controversy is back in the spotlight. With many folks favoring wholesome, natural foods, margarine has now taken a backseat to butter. But can this full fat delight be part of a healthy diet?

Comments (1,252)

  1. technology market research…

    [...]The information talked about in the report are a number of the most effective available [...]…

  2. buy twitter followers…

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

  3. Cure Premature Ejaculation by Dapoxetine…

    This really answered my downside, thank you!…

  4. Recent Blogroll Additions……

    [...]usually posts some very interesting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]……

  5. Recent Blogroll Additions……

    [...]usually posts some very interesting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]……

  6. Bradly Hanacek…

    [...]we like to honor numerous other internet web-sites around the web, even if they aren?t linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages worth checking out[...]…

  7. Sources…

    [...]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[...]……

  8. Websites you should visit…

    [...]below you’ll find the link to some sites that we think you should visit[...]……

  9. Recent Blogroll Additions……

    [...]usually posts some very interesting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]……

  10. Robert Peric says:

    Robert Peric…

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this brilliant blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will share this blog …

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>