While dieting during pregnancy is not recommended, eating more healthfully certainly is. To that end, many of us cut sugar out of our diets and switch to artificially sweetened foods and drinks. But are sugar substitutes healthy? And more importantly, are they safe? Some are and some aren't. Here's the lowdown, from the American Pregnancy Association.
Artificial sweeteners that are safe to use during pregnancy:
1. Acesulfame Potassium (Sunett): This sweetener is added to baked goods, frozen desserts, sugar free gelatins, puddings and beverages. It has been deemed safe to use in moderation during pregnancy by the FDA.
2. Aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet): Often found in soft drinks, gelatin, desserts, pudding mixes, breakfast cereals, beverages, chewing gum, dairy products, and other foods and drugs. The FDA recommends limiting consumption to a moderate level. Caveat: Aspartame should not be used by anyone with PKU, rare liver disease, or by pregnant women who have high levels of phenylalanine in their blood.
3. Sucralose: (Splenda): Found in baked goods, baking mixes, non-alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, coffee and tea products, confections and frosting, frozen dairy desserts and mixes, fruit juices, sugar substitutes, sweet sauces, toppings and syrups. According to the FDA, it's safe for everyone, including pregnant women.
Artificial sweeteners that are not safe to use during pregnancy:
1. Saccharin (Sweet 'N Low): Found in many foods and beverages. Studies show that saccharin crosses the placenta and may remain in fetal tissue, so its use for pregnant women still remains in question.
2. Stevia: This has not been approved by the FDA to be sold as a sweetener, but it can be sold as a "dietary supplement." It's safety has been questioned when used as a food additive. The safety of Stevia is unknown when used as a sweetener by pregnant or lactating women.
3. Cyclamate: This sweetener has been linked to cancer and is currently banned in the United States. Cyclamate is not considered safe for anyone including pregnant women.
If you use artificial sweeteners, talk to your doctor about which ones you use and how much you use.
Do you use sugar substitutes?