• JJ

    I appreciate that this kind of video has to be short and can only cover so many topics. However, I have a nit to pick on the topic of xylitol.

    The gist of the video seems to be that since xylitol can have a laxative effect, it falls into the harmful category. Well, prunes can have a laxative effect if you eat too much of them. Surely you wouldn’t put prunes in the harmful category?

    I believe that there is a safe level of xylitol under which there is not a laxative effect. I believe that not only because of all the websites which claim this to be true, but because I suck on xylitol mints and chew xylitol gum all day long and am not aware of any harmful effects.

    The reason I am nit picking on this is that it is my understanding that xylitol can have some very positive health effects: (I’m probably getting the details wrong here, but the gist is:) the bacteria or whatever that cause cavities can not east xylitol and having it in your mouth can help prevent cavities.

    One website even said that Finland? gives out xylitol gum to kids to help prevent cavities. And other websites talk about the ability of xylitol to help control or prevent ear infections in kids.

    Is all that BS? Or could xylitol be beneficial when taken in safe amounts?

    Since stevia recently seemed to be getting a nod from you as ‘safe under a certain amount’ and yet stevia can actually be turned into mutagenic(sp?) compounds!, surely a substance that might have some mere laxative effects and yet also has some positive effects might also be deemed as safe under a certain amount?

    What are your thoughts?

    I’m also very curious about the statement that sorbitol and xylitol are the same. Everything I’ve read said that they are both _something (sugar?)_ alcohols, but that they were slightly different. Thoughts on this?

    Thanks for any clarifications you care to provide. I really do appreciate the information and do not mean to be too critical. I’m very interested if you know something I do not about xylitol not really helping teeth or ears. Thanks.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Not nit-picking at all JJ–thank you so much for question. You’re right: the mantra of the field of toxicology is that it’s the dose that makes the poison, and so in small amounts (like gum and little candies) the industry can get away with using sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol (different, but have same effect, as they are not absorbed into the blood stream and so draw water in the bowel). But it’s not a realistic sweetener for things like sweetened beverages, which would have levelss that would have people running to the bathroom. Bottomline: sorbitol and xylitol are safe in small amounts, but I recommend erythritol instead, since it is in the same class of compounds, but does not have that unpleasant effect even when taken in even relatively large doses. More on sweeteners here.

      • JJ

        Thanks for the clarification. That helps. And since I drink flavored green teas (another question coming to you on another video), I should be OK sucking on my xylitol “mints” and chewing my xylitol gum.

        I’m going to look into seeing if I can get mints and gum made out of erythritol, but I wonder if erythritol has the same protection against cavities as xylitol. While cavities can be fought other ways, I appear to need all the help on fighting cavities as I can get. If sucking on some xylitol mints does the trick but erythritol does not, I’ll probably stick with the xylitol. (On the other hand, if reports of xylitol’s effect on cavity prevention has been exaggerated, then I will definitely re-think which gum I chew.)

        Thanks again for taking time to reply. It’s going to get tougher the more popular this site gets. :-)

        • Michael Greger M.D.

          Helping so many people that I don’t have time to help people more is not the worst problem to have, but I will keep it up as much as I possibly can. Erithritol does seem to help prevent cavities as well, but the latest review found that the evidence supporting the use of sugar alcohol for caries (cavity) prevention is not strong.

      • Trig Trigger

        Dr. Black at Cedar Sinai keeps away from all artifical sweeteners.

    • Susan

      I have consumed Sweet Leaf stevia for years before I decided to simply drink beverages and eat foods that did not need to be artificially sweetened. Therefore, I eliminated the need to such sweeteners.

      Since I’ve been eating vegan, I’ve reduced my consumption of grains to eating them only to balance my amino acids, and have reduced or eliminated cavities and gum disease by simply brushing correctly and flossing.

    • Roberta

      I used to have terrible tarter buildup at the gum line of my teeth. Here is what has made such a difference for me: I mix xylitol with cinnamon and clove powder and use to brush my teeth. It tastes so good, that I love to brush. I never have bad breath and most importantly, my dental hygienist, always reports on how little tarter buildup there is to remove.

      There are expensive toothpastes with xylitol but I prefer the jar with cinnamon and clove I mix myself. I once read that xylitol was natural in strawberries and that in the Middle Ages strawberries were considered the fruit of lovers since strawberries kept the mouth clean and breath sweet.

  • wickedchicken

    I wouldn’t classify “a laxative side effect” and “bladder cancer” in the same category i.e. harmful. Bladder cancer is harmful, laxative effect is a nuisance. I understand there’s no in-between category, but if there was one I would keep “laxative effect” in a “Not harmful but there are side effects” category!

  • Iggyputty

    I use citrucel sugar free, which has aspartame. How much of a disservice am I doing to myself by not using the sugar one? Or are both evil, and I need to find a different, unsweetened product? (obviously any laxative effect is not a bad thing.) thanks!

  • MelanieP

    Anyone know the temperature that erythritol dissolves at? I’ve read that the cooling sensation disappears when erythritol is dissolved (and that it dissolves at a high temperature), but I can’t seem to find the specific temperature.

  • mmccleery4099

    Does erythritol stimulate appetite? I have “heard” that sweets (fruit, cookies, candies, gum, etc) stimulate appetite.

    • Megann19

      I have not heard of any appetite-stimulating properties of erythritol. I have, however, heard of some of the artificial sweeteners being capable of this, and definitely high fructose corn syrup (contains an abnormally high amount of the monosaccharide, fructose). On the other hand, any of the sugar alcohols can cause flatulence and have a laxatrive effect, in larger quantities. Erythritol is less likely than other sugar alcohols to have this effect, and everyone’s threshold is different.

    • Mae Blue

      all those things increase my appetite, sadly…

  • data

    I thank you for just being alive and contributing all of the wonderful wisdom you share with us daily! Cant thank you enough Dr. Greger!!

    What is your take on the following substances?

    Gymnema Sylvestre (Gurmar)

    Eugenia Jambolana (Jamun) ( This is a purple coloured fruit found extensively in India and something I often picked up and ate as kid as it fell of a tree. Was told it is highly prized as a curative fruit for Diabetes.

    Momordica Charantia (Karela bitter melon ). This is something my father ate every other day as a curative fruit for diabetes. I never liked the taste, but once my mother got it suitably spiced up and with some sweetener, ( I would use only Zsweet now since seeing your video on artificial sweeteners being lousy food substitutes )

    Trigonella Foenum Graeceun (fenugreek) Commonly used in India curry recpies……and for many remedies…including spicing up a man’s sex life.

    Lastly, Dr. Gerger what do you think of Citruline and L Argenine in their role as helping out in repairing the endothelium cells ( Citruline ) and the later helping in promoting Nitrous Oxide formation if one used the drug versions instead of Citruline absorbed thru Watermelon rind where a large portion of citulline is usually discarded?

    Thank you again for all the wisdom you expound here…thanks and Namaste…..Data

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    So glad you find my work useful! I’ll have to look into gurmar and jamun; as for citrulline and watermelon, I cover that in my video Watermelon as Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction, which is chapter 33 of my Latest in Clinical Nutrition DVD, volume 8, and should air here at NutritionFacts.org by the end of the month. I’ve also got upcoming videos on fenugreek, so I leave you in suspense (*spoiler alert*: fenugreek seeds appear to have both muscle-building and anti-cancer properties, but do have an unusual side effect: they may make your armpits smell like maple syrup!).

    I’ve often wondered about bitter melon myself (Momordica charantia, also known as karela, or bitter gourd). I’m glad you brought it up to give me an excuse to look into it. I’ve seen it at the Indian spice stores I frequent (looks kind of like a ridged warty cucumber), but never tried it. I hear it lives up to its name, though. In fact the more ripe it gets, the more inedibly bitter it evidently becomes! But with enough heavy spicing I guess anything can be made palatable (the best way to mask the taste appears to be tomato-based sauces).

    A study published just a few days ago found that an extract of the fruit appeared to slow the growth of a rare cancer in a petri dish (adrenocortical carcinoma, an aggressive 1 in a million cancer of the adrenal gland), something that extracts of blueberries, zucchini, and acorn squash couldn’t do. Similar findings were reported in 2011 with prostate cancer cells and in 2010 with breast cancer cells. Traditionally, bitter melon has been used to lower blood sugars in diabetics, though most of the studies to support this use have been small and methodologically weak. There was a randomized controlled study published in 2007 that found no significant improvement in long-term blood sugar control in diabetics, but there have also been case reports of children having hypoglycemic seizures (and one even sinking into a coma) after drinking bitter melon tea, so presumably there is some blood-sugar-lowering effect there somewhere. If you are going to try it, I would recommend eating the fruit itself, not some extract. For example, there is a published report of a man who started throwing up blood after chugging two cups of bitter melon juice, which apparently ate through the wall of his stomach.

  • johnduda

    Dear Dr. Greger, given that ZSweet is a combination of Erythritol and Stevia, shouldn’t we be eating pure erythritol instead, until we get definitive results for stevia? Thanks so much for your wonderful website.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post The Best Foods: Test Your Nutrition Knowledge!

  • Dohduh

    Have you seen any studies or information about coconut sap?  I have used it in baking (I didn’t know about erythritol until now) successfully (as opposed to Stevia – ick).  The only info I find online is positive from the Philippines, the location of its manufacture.  It is reported to be low glycemic.  I use Coconut Secret, whose label has the Non-GMO verfied stamp.  Also claims 100% organic, GF, unbleached, unrefined, and vegan.

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

       I have not been able to find any studies on coconut sap. I would employ the “precautionary principle” and avoid any food or substance that hasn’t been studied especially since there are options available which have been studied as Dr. Greger’s videos point out. The high low glycemic incidence scale needs to be viewed with caution. Fructose for instance doesn’t increase the glucose in body but is metabolized by the liver to uric acid, cholesterol, fatty acids and inflammatory compounds. Consumption should be confined to natural sources such as fruits and vegetables. Be well.

  • Gayle

    My daughter recommends erythitrol found in Zsweet, but I have always used KAL brand Stevia with Luo Han.  According to Life Extension magazine the properties of Stevia actually are good for the pancreas.  I do not get inflammation in my joints as I do in sugar alcohols.  I have never tried erythitrol so I don’t know how that may effect them.  If it is acidic, it will make my arthritis flare up.  Stevia does not do that.  I have never heard that health care was up in the air about Stevia.  Never.

  • rinths laby

    I don’t see much risk from sucralose. The only reports I see on PubMed that connect sucralose with migraine are case reports, not real studies. Maybe people who suffer from migraine have reason to avoid sucralose but I don’t get migraine. In my mind that’s roughly in the same category as the fact that some people have food allergies. Doesn’t mean I have reason to abstain. 

    • beccadoggie10

      Sucralose was created to be a pesticide. When told to test it, the tester misunderstood and tasted sucralose and found it to be sweet. Hence, his company made it into an artificial sweetener.

      Rinths laby, the only side effect I knew l had from aspartame was vision problems. I could not see with or without my bifocals. My Preventive Ophthalmologist retested my eyes and found nothing wrong. I wondered if it could be aspartame. And at the time, I was on a Multiple Chemicals Sensitivity discussion list and so was a tenacious nurse who started researching the health damaging effects of Equal/aspartame. One of many side effects was vision problems.

      Taking the precautionary approach, I discarded all aspartame and never purchased it again, or any synthetic sweetener, and my vision improved to the point that I did not even need eye glasses for several decades.

      Headaches or vision problems may mean that the chemical compound may be damaging the brain. A brain is a terrible thing to lose!

  • Healthy Mother

    Great Info Dr. Greger, thank you!
    The best TASTING sweetener my family ever used is LAKANTO.
    Made from Erythriol and Monk Fruit. It has been sold in Japan for 15 years! Now it’s finally available for us in US!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003023308557 Louise White

    What’s wrong with Cane sugar in moderation? harmless or harmfull

    • Susan

      Cane sugar is grown with the herbicide that regulators have found whenever they are searching for something else and it’s in the tapped water of most Americans and people worldwide. The name of the chemical is:
      Atrazine and it has been banned in Europe.

      “Atrazine, which is produced by the Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta,
      was first registered for use in the United States in 1959. The herbicide
      has been banned in the European Union since 2004 — individual countries
      in Europe banned Atrazine as early as 1991—but 80 million pounds…is used each year in the United States.”
      http://environment.about.com/od/healthenvironment/a/How-Dangerous-Is-Atrazine.htm

      Syngenta is one of the corporations who helped fund the No right to know about GMO’s in food campaign in California against the passage of citizens ballot initiative, Proposition 37, which lost by a very narrow margin, but would have given California citizens mandatory labeling and the right to know about GMO’s in food. Where California goes, so goes the country. The right to know is temporarily dead, as more and more citizens across the USA are putting the matter on the ballot repeatedly. I urge you to become involved.

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      Cane sugar in small amounts should be fine. Sucrose is half glucose(our bodies primary fuel source and fructose metabolized by the liver into uric acid see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/flesh-and-fructose/, cholesterol, triglycerides and fats… so we should use the latter with some caution. There are no phytochemicals in sucrose and if you go a bit without using sweeteners in beverages most of my patients are able to develop a taste for non-sweetened beverages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/b.ramos.5 B Cecilia Ramos

    What could possibly be wrong with stevia?, they use it to heal

    • Mae Blue

      truvia is not just stevia, beware

  • BB

    Truvia is GMO

    • Steve

      What about dry organic stevia leaves; either made at home or Frontier Organic’s Coop product? Are there any studies of material
      available? Thank you-Steve

  • Sarah Rishel

    Although Truvia does contain stevia, the number one ingredient is erythritol! I almost didn’t buy it… luckily I had a smartphone, googled erythritol, and decided it sounded good. Since they don’t sell that Z stuff at my local grocery store, I guess I will take my chances with the stevia. After all, don’t some people take it as a supplement? Also, it could be like the pomegranate juice and not actually contain stevia anyway :) By the way… I really like this website. It’s addictive.

  • hcousar

    I was wondering what would be a good sweetener to use for making tea. I have been using Walmart version of Splenda. I have recently been reading online that this could be the culprit of pain and inflammation and believe I am suffering from it. I have osteoarthritis and just recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia if it is the artificial sweetener causing these problems then I am gonna stop. Problem is I am over weight so I know sugar is not good either. So what would be a better alternative for tea and coffee? I can’t stand the taste of them or any thing else unsweetened. Please help with any information.

    • johan003

      I love carbonated water; give that a try. When I was on the South Beach Diet and they suggested using Splenda I got so sick feeling from it – just felt awful and my eyes were very light sensitive. I finally figured out what was causing it and haven’t used artificial sweeteners since.

  • Candace Lee

    Any thoughts on “Swerve”?

  • jlikenutrition

    Dear Dr. Greger,
    Thanks for all the great work and videos. I have a question about sweeteners.
    Where would maltitol fall in this category? I came across this and other videos while searching for sugar alcohols. Do you think you’ll be doing anything on them soon? Thanks!

  • Kunga

    Hi.. I am new to your site and have found it very helpful. recently I have been trying to make better health choices and have watched a few health shows that have really opened my eyes to what could be harmful to my body. Currently I use Sugar Twin but would like to try something else. I like Truvia and believe it is a more natural sugar. You didn’t mention it in your video “A harmless artificial sweetener” unless i missed it? I believe that some of the side effects I am experiencing is from using sugar twin! any advise would be great….I find that I am now ready every label b4 I put the food in my mouth.. thx! I will continue to use your site…..

  • Aaron Hollander

    Except in rare cases, why would anyone avoid sugar?

  • SFChutzpah

    Oh, God! I just bought 1500 packets of Splenda at Costco.

    • Jentle72

      Don’t worry about it. Go eat your ton of sucralose. This video doesn’t back up supposed sucralose dangers with any legitimate scientific data. I came here hoping to be enlightened about sucralose and all I get is “it may trigger migraines”. The verdict (based on that one claim): HARMFUL. This video seems like it was made for people with little to no scientific background who automatically think anything made in a lab is the devil’s work. Depressing.

      The first thing this doctor does is poison the well with the fact that sucralose was accidentally discovered in a lab while trying to make an insecticide. And your point is???

      Cornell? Seriously? This doctor must be a brilliant man to have gone there (seriously, I am not being sarcastic). Why would he make something so silly? DANGER! DANGER! RED LIGHT! RED LIGHT! Geez, my husband gets migraines from mangoes. Conclusion: MANGOES ARE HARMFUL!

      Sucralose is safe. http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/splenda.asp Take note that many of the studies that found sucralose to be toxic where done by (surprise, surprise) the sugar industry!

      • Tania

        I’d be interested to hear your response to this Dr Gregor. I have greatly valued your contribution that helps clarify the mass of confusion that exists about nutrition…I was disappointed when I discovered the magnesium supplement that I purchased from a naturopath had sucralose in it. What is your response to the link posted by Jentle72 supporting her/his claim that “Sucralose is safe.”

        I am inclined to avoid it, which isn’t so hard for someone committed to a wholefood plant based diet anyway…but I was after some sound research to share with my naturopath in case she says something to the effect that “there is nothing wrong with it and is no problem in the amount found in the supplement.” I found this article which looks supportive, but not a research paper as such:

        http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262475.php

  • Daver

    I appears this video on “safe” artifical sweeteners is a few years old…so it may be time to take another look at this topic. I was excited that FINALLY find that there was an artifical sweetener that was shown to be safe and have been using erythritol since seeing this video. However, I just ran across a story on erythritol that would be worth investigating a bit more. Here is the link: http://www.naturalnews.com/045450_Truvia_erythritol_natural_pesticide.html

    The gist of the story is that erythritol has shown to be an effective pesticide for fruit flies… which now possibly puts into question the health impact on humans.

    I would interested in your thoughts on this.

    • Toxins
      • JesusChild

        Ok Toxins, definitely appeciate the reply to Daver, but the link you have is to a video that’s at least 2 years old. I agree with Daver, it would definitely be nice to have another more recent look at the topic.

        I read the article Daver linked to and it talked about the erythritol used being a GMO product from Truvia and it being interesting if the non-GMO product didn’t produce the same effect. It was a good little article in my opinion.

        • Toxins

          2 years old does not mean irrelevant, the foundation of good nutrition rests upon studies that are decades old. I am all for more studies on erythritol but for the time being its effects in humans are positive as studies have shown. In addition, GMO bears little weight on whether a food is healthy or not.

  • Maryann Gianantoni

    HELLO. ANY RESEARCH ON EATING JUST PURE, NATURAL STEVIA LEAF THAT I BUY IN BULK AT MY HEALTH FOOD STORE? I PUT A TSP OF THE LEAF IN MY SMOOTHIE EVERY MORNING. THANKS.

  • Anisa Marie

    Xylitol, perhaps with Laxative effect, … is that the ONLY bad effect it has on people ? If one is constipated, could Xylitol not be beneficial for some people ?

  • Anisa Marie

    I am thinking to keep Xylitol and Erythritol always on hand, and to finish the use of Stevia since your recent research shows some effect of steviosides not being healthy after certain amounts. I have used Stevia in liquid form since 1997 and have been fond of it in liquid form, ordering it from Swanson Vitamins in the 8oz size.

  • Anisa Marie

    It is true, Dr Greger, that Americans have a “sweet tooth” and I am among those, since I was a child. I have tried, but cannot banish it from my tongue. While eating mostly vegetarian fresh veggies, occasionally I love and recommend sweet things, and use only organic healthy sweets such as fresh fruits, manuka honey and maple syrup, and until now, Stevia. It is why I use coconut sugar in my organic, fiber packed, gourmet, double chocolate brownies, using four fibers (flax, wheat bran, almond flour, buckwheat flour) and grass fed butter and eggs. I have now read your research on Date Sugar being at the top of the healthy list, and will attempt to make the brownies with that. I am not sure that Erythritol will do well in the brownies, since the science of baking has much to do with the reaction of traditional granulated sugars to oven heat. Such is the experimentation of the Test Kitchen. Thank you for everything you do.