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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Linda

Consuming low or no-calorie sweeteners may actually lead to weight gain. This may be because sweetener users tend to eat more than those who don’t use sweeteners. Sweeteners can also boost the appetite as the sweet taste creates a desire for additional calories. Eating sweet things tends to maintain a craving for sweet things.

Artificial sweeteners have been associated with a number of adverse effects including mood disorders, pain, and preterm birth. They may also alter gut bacteria populations, which can impact blood sugar response and increase diabetes risk. Altering these bacterial populations could also have implications for gut-related conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Stevia, extracted from a plant, has become increasingly popular but there are some concerns about mutagenicity at high levels so it should probably be used sparingly.

Date sugar (which is simply powdered dates), molasses and erythritol are relatively healthy sweetener choices. Fruit contains natural sugar, fructose. While the adverse effects of added sugar and fructose have raised concerns, studies have shown that, if the fruits are eaten whole, fructose is beneficial in almost any amount.


Image Credit: Amanda Rae. This image has been modified.

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