6 Sugar Substitutes (Including Honey) You Need to Know

Sucralose is a Sugar Substitute
Nutrition

In this day and age, many people are well aware of how too much sugar can be harmful for one’s health. In fact, it is the leading cause of the obesity epidemic due to its addictive and toxic nature, similar to that of cocaine and heroin. Furthermore, the intake of sugar-sweetened drinks can also increase the risk of diabetes as these beverages can raise the blood glucose level of a person.

Because of these reasons, many food companies are now manufacturing sugar substitutes that are supposedly healthier and safer for human consumption. Unfortunately, some experts claim that most of these alternative sweeteners are just as bad or even worse, because they are unnatural and have been linked to cancer.

But a study in 2012 conducted by the American Diabetes Association concluded that most sugar substitutes can promote moderate weight loss among a number of individuals although clinical trials are yet to be explored.

Furthermore, there are no human studies conducted that can directly link these alternative sweeteners to cancer .

In order to enlighten more people about the benefits and safety of sugar substitutes, we’ve put together a pretty good list of alternatives. 

Here is a list of facts about the top 6 sugar substitutes available

HONEY (OF COURSE)

Honey is a better sugar alternative.  In a recent article, I listed the ways that honey is better than sugar so I won’t go into deep detail here.  I’d absolutely recommend that you take the time to read that article though!  Honey differs from sugar in a couple basic ways.  It’s chemical makeup is different being that is it is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose.  In addition, honey unlike almost all of the items on our list has trace elements and minerals which your body needs.  It’s also the most non-processed option on our list. 

ASPARTAME

This popular sweetener is the most used sugar substitute available in the market yet it also happens to be the most controversial. It has 4 kilocalories per gram and is commonly found in diet sodas, yogurt, chewing gum, and even cough drops. It is sold under the brand names Equal and NutraSweet.

It is made from the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The latter is naturally produced by the body while the former is a type of essential amino acid consumed from meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. While there are people who are violently opposed to the usage of aspartame, the FDA approved it as safe for consumption in 1981.

Furthermore, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conducted a study in 2013 that declared no reason to take it out of the market .

According to NHS, it is important to understand that the daily intake should be limited to 40 milligrams per kilogram. People suffering from phenylketonuria should also avoid or limit their intake of aspartame.

SUCRALOSE

You probably heard of sucralose after the controversial decision of PepsiCo to use this sweetener in its Diet Pepsi in 2015. Believe it or not, it has been in existence for 17 years, since it was approved by the FDA in 1998. It is sold in the market under the brand name Splenda.

Unlike aspartame, this sugar substitute has no calories but as it is about 650 times as sweet as sugar, the acceptable intake is 15 milligram per kilogram. Many challenge the safety of sucralose to the body but about 100 studies have already been conducted for the past 20 years and all of them have has shown no harmful effect to the body.

Today, sucralose is used and approved in more than 80 countries worldwide.

SACCHARIN

This sugar substitute may be the oldest alternative sweetener of all as it was discovered more than a century ago and has been used in almost all beverages and foods for over 100 years. It has zero calories and is highly recommended by most doctors or dietitians for weight reduction and diabetic diet. It is available in the market through the brand name Sweet’N Low.

During 1970s, the FDA warned the public about “presumptive evidence” that saccharin may cause cancer in three out of 48 laboratory rats. Fortunately, the studies did not stop with this result and proceeded to conduct subsequent testing which led to the discovery that rats have a different chemical make-up from humans . Finally, in 2010, the EPA removed saccharin from its list of potentially hazardous substances to human health.

Ironically, a 2015 study suggests that saccharin may be useful in preventing aggressive cancers from developing due to its deactivating characteristic that can hinder the spread of cancer.

STEVIA

The only plant-derived sugar substitute, Stevia has zero calories but is about 200 times as sweet as sugar. It came from the plant species Stevia Rebaudiana, which are grown in Paraguay and Brazil, and has been used as a home remedy for stomach discomfort. It is marketed under several brand names like Truvia, Pyure, Steviol, and Sweet Leaf.

In 2008, this sweetener has been regarded as GRAS or “generally regarded as safe” by the FDA but remained sold only as a dietary supplementary in the US.

XYLITOL

This sugar substitute is found and manufactured from birch wood, usually as a medicine or sweetener for sugar-free gums and candies. It tastes as sweet as sugar but as it isn’t converted into acid the mouth, it does not cause tooth decay .

The FDA, WHO, and EUSCF have approved the safety of xylitol for human consumption.

There are other sugar substitutes available in the market like agave nectar, and cactus honey powder but as these are naturally-made, they are all deemed safe for human consumption.