Ask the Doctor: Are artificial sweeteners a good alternative to sugar?
Question: More and more nutrition advice seems to be anti-sugar these days. So are artificial sweeteners a good alternative?
Answer: Sugar in all its forms may be the single most important dietary cause of obesity and heart disease in the American diet today. Stripped of fiber and antioxidants, table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup cause big jumps in blood glucose and insulin. They also that raise levels of triglycerides, lead to inflammation, and create free oxygen radicals. In addition, the fructose found in most types of sugar may damage the liver and cause insulin resistance.
Artificial sweeteners include:
- Stevia plant extract
Most people consume artificial sweeteners because they want to lose weight. Replacing concentrated sugar with products that have very few, if any, calories should tilt energy balance in favor of weight loss. And some short-term studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may have that effect.