The prevalence of non-nutritive (artificial) sweeteners added to commonly consumed foods and beverages is on the rise. Artificial sweeteners are added to common food items to reduce the caloric impact of regular sugar-sweetened beverages and foods, especially because sugar-sweetened items can contribute to the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc. Sucrose and fructose are types of naturally occurring sugars that contribute added calories to foods in which they are found.

What are Artificial Sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners also can be referred to as sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners. All these terms refer to artificial sweeteners with FDA approval and regulation as food additives. Common non-nutritive sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, neotame, and Acesulfame-K. These items can provide a common sweet taste without added calories. Sugar alcohols are another type of sugar substitute commonly added to foods such as gum and candies. Types of sugar alcohols include sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol. Many of these artificial sweeteners are added to various food items that are advertised as “diet” or “sugar-free,” such as sodas and juices, to maintain a sweet flavor without the calories from sugar.

Recommended uses of Artificial Sweeteners

There has been much research surrounding the use and frequency of artificial sweetener usage in our daily eating and drinking. Moderate intake of artificial sweeteners has been found to be beneficial to lower overall calorie consumption, which can lead to weight loss for individuals aiming to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. As always, moderation is key! The excessive use of artificial sweeteners has not been widely studied. Many individuals have commonly reported gastrointestinal distress with excessive use of artificial sweeteners, so it’s important to pay attention to your stomach to determine tolerance. Diets should mostly consist of natural, whole foods from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, etc. Processed foods, especially those containing artificial sweeteners, should make up a small portion of the diet. FDA guidance supports the use of artificial sweeteners when consumed within an acceptable daily intake.

To learn more about artificial sweeteners and the role they can play in your diet, contact our team of Registered Dietitians today!