Refined Sugar VS Artificial Sweetener: Who Is the Real Good Friend of Sweeteners

Sugar drinks are everywhere.

People have always been hard to resist the temptation of sweet taste. Therefore, Although there are many kinds of beverages on the market, The most popular drink is basically sugary. In recent years, the proportion and intake of sugary drinks for adults, children and adolescents in our country have been rising rapidly. According to the results of a survey, as many as 60% of children and adolescents drink sugary drinks, and the per capita consumption has reached about one bottle per day [1].

However, when people enjoy the pleasure of drinking delicious beverages, they often ignore the negative health effects brought by these sugary beverages.

The [Original Sin] of Refined Sugar

The sugar added to sugary beverages is refined sugar, which cannot provide any micronutrients except calories due to its extremely high purity. In other words, refined sugar provides [empty calories] with no nutritional value.

Moreover, the amount of sugar added to sugary beverages is generally quite exaggerated [2]. A 500 ml bottle of Coke can contain as much refined sucrose as 12 cubes of sugar. Even a 600-ml bottle of green tea labeled [low sugar] contains as much refined sugar as five cubes. When the amount of sugary drinks consumed is still small, the intake of refined sugar is already [off the charts], resulting in a large intake of [empty calories].

However, it is precisely because people will unconsciously consume a large amount of [empty calories] with no nutritional value that the intake of sugary drinks has become a risk factor for various chronic metabolic diseases.

For example, drinking sugary beverages will increase the risk of gaining weight [3, 4], thus making drinkers have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (such as hypertension and coronary heart disease), which have been confirmed by relevant studies [5, 6]. Drinking sugary beverages may also make people drink less milk, resulting in a decrease in calcium intake [7].

For children, Drinking sugary drinks can even affect the growth and development of children’s bones and bodies [8, 9]. As the bad living habits formed in childhood are easy to maintain until adulthood, it may even make children suffer from chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which are usually believed to be only suffered by aunts, uncles, grandparents before entering middle age [10].

The latest research also shows that if pregnant mothers drink too much sugary drinks, they may make their children more likely to gain weight and suffer from [wealth disease] from birth than others, commonly known as [losing at the starting line] [11].

Based on the above series of facts, The Chinese Nutrition Society suggested that, The proportion of [empty calories] in our daily energy intake cannot exceed 10%. According to this proportion, Under the condition that one bottle represents about 500 mL, only when the consumption of sugary drinks is controlled below the range of 2 bottles/week will it not have much impact on health [4, 12]. Moreover, if you are a dessert lover, the consumption of sugary drinks will have to continue to decline, because desserts such as cakes may also contain a lot of refined sugar.

Love sweet does not have to love sugar.

If you are a sweet person, this drink obviously cannot fill your desire for sweetness.

However, sugar is not the only one that can provide sweetness. Non-nutritional sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose, are playing an important role in the food processing industry because they can not only provide sweetness, but also are healthier than refined sugar.

At present, there are many beverages on the market that replace sugar with non-nutritional sweeteners, such as Coke Zero. The sugar item in the [nutritional ingredient list] of such beverages is 0, and the ingredient list often contains aspartame/sucralose/saccharin/acesulfame/Siraitia grosvenorii extract and other ingredients.

Drinking such beverages, While enjoying [sweetness], it can significantly reduce the excessive sugar intake caused by drinking sugary beverages and prevent obesity [13], thus helping to reduce the risk of related diseases from the root cause. This is almost necessary for people who have developed obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and other diseases or pre-disease symptoms.

Non-nutritional sweeteners are not as terrible as rumors spread.

Some media claim that some non-nutritional sweeteners can cause cancer, which makes many people always have bad feelings about using them to replace refined sugar in beverages, but this is not the case. These non-nutritional sweeteners may have been questioned before, but according to the latest research results, they are still safe.

1. Saccharin causes cancer? Causes of animal species

Saccharin, for example, was once judged as a carcinogen because it showed carcinogenicity to the bladder in rats. However, in the end, it turned out that this was only because when saccharin was used in large quantities, the urine of mice would precipitate crystals to damage the bladder, while the urine of human beings would not precipitate crystals and would not be carcinogenic.

Therefore, saccharin was re-recognized as a safe sweetener in 2000.

2. Aspartame may cause cancer? The design of the experiment is not rigorous.

Some studies have come to the conclusion that aspartame may cause cancer. However, later, more and more scholars believe that it has some problems that may bias the conclusion, such as unreasonable experimental design and unruled confounding factors. The conclusion is not convincing.

Aspartame is synthesized from two amino acids, One of them is phenylalanine, an essential amino acid for human body. Phenylketonuria patients cannot metabolize phenylalanine due to genetic reasons. Therefore, patients with phenylketonuria cannot contact aspartame. However, aspartame can be safely applied in normal people. A large number of experiments and observation studies have proved that aspartame is a sweetener that can be safely applied.

3. The edible dosage of non-nutritional sweeteners is quite safe.

In fact, even the FDA, which has strict standards and has saved the United States from the teratogenic disturbance of thalidomide sweetening the world, has decided that eight non-nutritional sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame and neotame are safe.

In addition, non-nutritional sweeteners are much sweeter than refined sugar. Usually, the amount of non-nutritional sweeteners that need to be added to foods is very small, and the amount that people take from such foods every day is far from the safety limit. Take Coke Zero as an example. A person weighing 63 kg has to drink 18 bottles a day to reach this limit. If you drink this every day, you will probably die long ago.

The advantage of using non-nutritional sweetener outweigh that disadvantages

Due to the [synthetic] nature of non-nutritional sweeteners, many people question that even if they are not carcinogenic, it does not mean that they are not problematic in other aspects. In recent years, researchers have found that the large use of non-nutritional sweeteners will lead to metabolic disorders [14], which has led them to conclude that [sweeteners and sugars are not good birds].

However, they ignored one problem: the health effects of non-nutritional sweeteners are really much smaller than the negative health effects of refined sugar.

At the same 500 ml bottle a day, If you choose a beverage that uses refined sugar as sweetener, it will show the effects of weight gain [15], metabolic disease-related indicators increase [16], and morbidity risk increase significantly [5, 6] after an average of two years. If you choose a beverage that uses non-nutritional sweetener, there will be no such burden and risk because it does not provide [empty calories].

Therefore, under the condition that one must drink beverages and cannot drink less at all, it is much better to choose beverages using artificial sweeteners than sugary beverages.

However, this is not to say that with the replacement of artificial sweeteners, you can safely eat sweet. Most of these foods are unhealthy in themselves. Eat them in large quantities. Although the intake of refined sugar has gone down, the intake of other unhealthy ingredients such as fat may rise sharply. Long-term consumption is still not good for your health.

Non-nutritional Sweeteners: True Good Friends of Sweeteners

The large amount of sugar contained in the beverage will cause many hazards, including but not limited to making you gain one kilogram after another of fat meat, as well as [rich diseases] such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which may also affect the growth and development of children.

Reducing the consumption of sugary beverages and using non-nutritional sweeteners to replace sugar in beverages can reduce or delay the occurrence of these diseases caused by drinking sugary beverages. Moreover, according to the current observation of the shortest period of more than 30 years and the longest period of more than 100 years, non-nutritional sweeteners will not cause cancer when used within the normal range.

Under the condition that drinking beverages is necessary and cannot be stopped, the benefits of using non-nutritional sweeteners instead of sugary beverages will be significantly greater than the possible disadvantages of using non-nutritional sweeteners.

Editor: Liu Yinghui

By KellyWeaver