Everyone needs to add sweetness to their food every once in a while. But did you know that not all sweeteners are made equal? Dr. Joseph Mercola says you should be careful when choosing a sweetener because there are some types that can severely damage your health. MSN Health classified the best and worst sweeteners for your health:
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- Sugar alcohols
- Pure glucose (link)
Why You Should Ditch Artificial Sweeteners and Fructose from Your Diet
Aspartame is the ingredient found in NutraSweet, Equal, AminoSweet, and other “diet” sweeteners. This is a synthetic chemical made up of three ingredients: amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid, and a methyl ester bond. “Aspartame is metabolized inside your body into both wood alcohol (a poison) and formaldehyde (which embalms tissue and is not eliminated from your body through the normal waste filtering done by your liver and kidneys),” adds Dr. Mercola.
Aspartame can cause severe and even fatal effects on your health, such as weight gain, birth defects, cancer, and brain tumors. To learn more about this dangerous sweetener, check out Dr. Mercola’s aspartame site.
Sucralose or Splenda is another synthetic chemical sweetener you should avoid. It is created using a five-step patented process, wherein three chlorine molecules are added to a single sucrose molecule. According to research, 15 percent of sucralose is absorbed into your digestive system and stored in your body.
There are numerous independent animal studies that show Splenda’s damaging effects, which include:
- Anemia, because it decreases your red blood cells by about 1,500 mg/kg/day.
- Male infertility. Splenda interferes with sperm production and vitality. It may also cause brain lesions at higher doses.
- Enlarged and calcified kidneys.
- Spontaneous abortions in rabbit studies.
- Twenty-three percent death rate in rabbits, compared to a six percent death rate in the control group.
Sadly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ignored these findings and instead proclaimed that Splenda is “safe” for human consumption on the basis of just two inferior and inadequate human studies.
Fructose: Another Damaging Sweetener You Should Avoid
Fructose has always been thought to be healthy and better than artificial sweeteners, but the truth is that it is just as bad. Dr. Mercola says that fructose is the most toxic natural sugar available today. Small amounts of it are acceptable, like those in small servings of fruit, but when ingested in large doses, fructose becomes extremely toxic.
Fructose is metabolized to fat in your body more rapidly than other sugar. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose goes to your liver. This promotes adipose fat formation, which is a dangerous body fat that collects in your abdominal region. It is associated with a greater risk of heart disease.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the most damaging form of HFCS you can ingest. This is why many people who want to stay healthy now opt for “natural” agave. But the truth is that agave is worse than HFCS since it has a higher fructose content that any commercial sweetener. Dr. Mercola says that HFCS has 55 percent fructose content, but agave has 70 to 97 percent.
- Fructose and agave can lead to many detrimental health effects, such as:
- Fooling your metabolism and tricking your body into gaining more weight.
- Potentially leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity, increased LDL, decreased HDL, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, and high blood pressure.
- Leads to insulin resistance, which is an underlying factor for type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Healthful Sweeteners You Can Try
Instead of consuming the unhealthy and toxic sweeteners mentioned above, Dr. Mercola recommends healthy and organic natural sweeteners, like high-quality honey. It contains natural antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. However, never buy commercial honey that has been heavily processed because it does not contain any health benefits. Instead, opt for unprocessed Manuka honey, which has potent antibacterial properties. In fact, it is even used in medical products like wound dressings. Organic raw honey is also a good choice, although it doesn’t have the same potent antibacterial properties.
Honey is very high in fructose, though, so limit your consumption to less than a teaspoon per day.The herb stevia is another sweetener that Dr. Mercola recommends, especially in its liquid form. Stevia is a safe, natural plant that has been used for over 1,500 years. It is 100 times sweeter than sugar and contains no calories.
Research has also revealed that stevia may have potential benefits to your health. Diabetic rats who consumed stevia had a delayed but significant decrease in blood glucose levels without becoming hypoglycemic, and also lost weight. (link)
Pure glucose (dextrose) is another safe sugar alternative. It costs about a dollar per pound. Pure glucose is almost 70 percent as sweet as sucrose. Glucose can be directly used by all the cells in your body, making it safer than fructose.
Dr. Mercola says that virtually all forms of sugar– whether they are artificial or natural – can be dangerous in the long run. He believes that to maintain your optimal health while enjoying these sweet treats, you should always moderate your diet. He recommends his Nutritional Plan to help you follow a low-sugar but satisfying diet.