Artificial Sweetener Showdown - Which Do You Prefer?

artificial sweetenerThe New York Times ran a funny article this week by Kim Severson titled: "Showdown at the Coffee Shop" about the battle between artificial sweeteners, Splenda (sucralose), Equal (aspartame), and Sweet'N Low (saccharin). Some people swear by the yellow, blue, or pink packet depending on their tastes. I personally prefer Sweet'N Low (pink) in iced-tea, Equal (blue) in coffee, and Splenda (yellow) in baked goods. To each her own. Now, there's a new sweet kid on the block to test.



Rebaudioside A, an extract from the stevia plant, has been used as a sweetener in other countries such as Japan for years, but was just approved as a food ingredient by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December. Because it comes from a plant, marketers are selling the product as a low-calorie and a natural alternative to sugar. It even comes in a green packet to show off its oneness with nature, so to speak. Two companies creating stevia sweetened products are Cargill and Whole Earth Sweetener Company. Earlier this year, they began rolling out packets called Truvia and PureVia.

The downside to these products is the cost -- they're five times more expensive than other artificial sweeteners on the market. And the price doesn't guarantee that its safer for your diet. As Severson reported in the article, researchers are studying whether artificial sweeteners trigger a negative metabolic response that actually causes people to gain weight. Saccharin has come under the spotlight because it was once connected to cancer (that warning was rescinded in 2000). Some have argued that sucralose is an artificial ingredient the body can’t easily process and that stevia extracts simply haven’t been studied enough. And others believe that aspartame is linked to serious conditions like neurological damage. Despite all the studies, however, nothing has been proved one way or the other.

No matter the debate, I still like to cut calories where possible and using artificial sweeteners is an easy way for me to do that.


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