Not so sweet science.
Many of us have avoided putting sugar in our coffee to sweeten it because of the high calories. Food processors graciously came up with saccharin as a sugar substitute, for which a typical label is Sweet ‘N Low.
According to a Purdue U study, when scientists fed rats yogurt sweetened with saccharin, the rodents gained 36% more fat in 5 weeks than those who ate yogurt containing sugar. Of course, avoidance of sugar led to no weigh gain.
Why the increased weight?
It seems that zero-calorie sweeteners may change the way a rat’s body digests food, tricking it into storing more fat. What about humans? More research is needed to see if we fall into the saccharin trap.
In the meantime, a word to the wise is to avoid artificial sweeteners. A much better choice is the natural sweeter stevia if you want a sweet taste but don’t want sugar’s calories.
The FDA’s view on artificial sweeteners
Click here for an extensive FDA review of artificial sweeteners. Saccharin is on their warning list, but aspartame is not.
The FDA’s view on stevia
Stevia is derived from a South American shrub. Though it can impart a sweet taste to foods, it cannot be sold as a sweetener because FDA considers it an unapproved food additive. “The safety of stevia has been questioned by published studies,” says Martha Peiperl, a consumer safety officer in FDA’s Office of Premarket Approval. “And no one has ever provided FDA with adequate evidence that the substance is safe.”
Under provisions of 1994 legislation, however, stevia can be sold as a “dietary supplement,” though it cannot be promoted as a sweetener. So try it as a dietary supplement to sweeten foods instead of using sugar.
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