Not So Sweet: Avoiding the Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

You exercise regularly, eat healthy and stay hydrated, but your morning coffee run or even the almond milk in your cereal can be sabotaging all of those healthy habits.

The FDA is considering advertising hidden sugars like dextrose, maltose and rice syrup on the front of packages due to decades of research on their negative effects. The list of health problems linked to artificial sweeteners seems never-ending – cancer, weight gain, acne, fatigue and even depression are among the most common effects when consuming too much hidden sugar.

Don’t Drink Your Sugar

We all love the sound of an iced caramel macchiato or a green tea lemonade on a hot day, but just one grande caramel macchiato from Starbucks contains 34 grams of sugar. That’s the equivalent of a few chocolate chip cookies in your morning coffee!

These drinks should be seen as more of an indulgence than a staple in your coffee run. If you are a coffee drinker, try decreasing the amount of sugar you add over time. Start with decreasing it by a half teaspoon at a time and avoid Sweet n’ Low, Splenda and Equal, which have dangerous additives like aspartame and sucralose that interfere with appetite regulation. Instead, try agave syrup, stevia or even cinnamon in your next latte.

Hidden Sugars

It may seem almost impossible to bake your favorite treats without the traditional brown or white sugar. While these ingredients make any recipe indulgent, they are scientifically shown to cause diseases, acne and weight gain. Try swapping out white sugar for ingredients like mashed bananas, applesauce, maple syrup or honey to sweeten pancakes, muffins, cookies and cakes. Not only do these naturally-derived sweeteners enhance the flavor of your food, but they boost the nutritional value as well.

Sugar Swaps

Flavored oatmeal, almond milk, cereals, bread, yogurts – even ketchup – seem to be saturated with unnecessary sugars that spike blood pressure and drain our energy for the day. Paying special attention to nutrition labels is one way you can avoid these hidden artificial sweeteners, but with over 56 names like diastase, muscovado and dextrose, it’s not easy to differentiate what’s sugar and what isn’t.

By avoiding overly processed foods and choosing natural foods to sweeten on your own, you’ll benefit daily from all of the nutrients instead of feeling sluggish as a result of artificial sweeteners throughout the day. Adding maple syrup to plain oatmeal or tossing in some berries and drizzling honey over plain Greek yogurt are simple ways to enjoy sweet foods without the negative impacts.  

The Sweet Spot

Do the negative health effects of sugar mean you have to forget about your favorite muffins and cakes, or swear off sweetened sodas and coffee altogether? Definitely not. By making these easy swaps throughout the day and keeping artificially sweetened items to a minimum, you can still indulge — everything in moderation!


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