Low Calorie Sweeteners – Can They Be Unhealthy?

The USDA recently reported that the average American consumes between 150 and 170 pounds of sugar each and every year. This is roughly 1/2 a pound of sugar each and every day, equivalent to 770 calories from sugar every day.

This may sound like a lot of sugar (it is!), but it’s fairly easy to see how this could be consumed by the average person. One of the major culprits for this sugar overload is from sodas.

For the average 12-ounce soda (a can of soda) there is 8 ounces of sugars. This means that if you drink a measly 4 cans of soda a day (many people drink much more) you will have consumed 1/4th a pound of sugar.

For many, this amount of soda is actually on the lower side of what they consume on a daily basis.

sugar cubes
Sugar cubes; source: freeimages.com

Sugar is often hidden in foods which you may not even be aware contain the ingredient. Sure, doughnuts and ice cream are easy to identify as heavy in refined sugars, but there are many other sources in foods you may not expect.

Foods such as canned fruits, crackers, hot dogs, ketchup, salad dressings and soups all often contain significant amounts of sugars. It’s difficult to avoid sugar in the American diet, even if you try to avoid the more obvious avenues for consumption.

Stevia as a Low Calorie Alternative Sweetener

There are alternatives out there, and some are even coming into the major chain grocery stores in recent years. Aspartame (Splenda) has been used in low-fat, diet sodas and low sugar foods for decades now, but many people report a bitter aftertaste. In addition, there’s been some studies which identify issues if too much is consumed (over the equivalent of 19 cans of soda a day).

Unlike these artificial sugar substitutes, Stevia is one that is natural and not man-made, being derived directly from a plant. Stevia rebaudiana, the primary plant used for sweeteners, grows primarily in Paraguay and Brazil.

Stevia, like other artificial sweeteners, has no calories, but it is commonly reported as having no bitter aftertaste at all. This is an advantage in using it took sweets, and baked goods, as well as in sodas.

Why is Stevia Better than Other Artificial Sweeteners?

Unlike Aspartame, Stevia actually seems to have some potential health benefits. Catherine Ulbricht, a senior pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital, noted that from available research, Stevia shows promise in the treatment of hypertension.

Although it seems obvious that using artificial sweeteners would be a good diet solution, there’s been studies that claim they can cause problems. A 2004 study using mice found that using traditional artificial sweeteners caused animals to overeat, due to the mismatch with the perceived taste of sugar and the carbohydrate intake that the body expected. This was published in the Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders.

In an opinion letter in the 2013 Journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Susan E. Swithers noted that people who consume ASB (another term for Aspartame) are at an increased risk compared to those that do not. ASBs seem to cause your body to produce insulin, though no sugar is actually eaten.

In a 2010 study Stevia was researched specifically for these same types of metabolic reactions. It was found that those using Stevia instead of sugar did not overeat during the consumption of meals. Their blood sugar was lower and they produced lower insulin levels, what you’d want to see with any artificial sweetener.

Artificial sweeteners offer a lot to people who are trying to find sugar substitutes to aid them in weight loss.

However, traditional ASB sweeteners are not necessarily the tastiest, or the best for our bodies. This is why Stevia based sweeteners have been increasing in use in recent years. Stevia offers a lot of the great taste of sugar, with no calories, and with basically no adverse side effects having been found in numerous studies examining its regular use.

About Author:
Melanie Poe is a writer regarding healthy food and diet topics. Currently she is affiliated with HCG Plus Drops, an online store that sells pure HCG diet drops used to help people lose weight.


  1. Aspartame is ingredient in the artificial sweetener Equal, while Sucralose is the ingredient in Splenda. Please, if you are going to write articles about health, check your facts before publishing. Such a simple error hurts your credibility.

  2. According to CDC data, food, not beverages is the top source of added sugar in the American diet. With that said, the prevailing takeaway should be that overall balance across the diet, as well as physical activity, matters. Diet beverages and the low-calorie sweeteners they contain, including aspartame, have proven to help cut calories and can be integrated into a healthy diet. Given the body of science establishing the safety of low-calorie sweeteners, aspartame is approved by more than 100 regulatory agencies around the globe. Also, leading health organizations, such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Diabetes Association, condone the use of diet beverages. The bottom line is, consumers should have complete confidence in enjoying diet beverages.
    -American Beverage Association


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