There are a number of artificial sweeteners to choose from. It is difficult to determine which is the best, since they are all considered safe for the general population, when used at moderate levels.
Below are a number of the most popular artificial sweeteners as well as their brand names and information on the safety of each:
Sucralose (Splenda) is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Of all the artificial sweeteners, Splenda has caused the least controversy from watchdog or consumer groups. The FDA concluded (with more than 110 studies supporting it) that Sucralose was found to have no toxic or carcinogenic effects and to poses no reproductive or neurologic risk to humans.
Aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal) is 180-200 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame has become the most heavily scrutinized of the artificial sweeteners. The FDA has evaluated aspartame use in food and beverages 26 times since it was first approved in 1981. In 1996, the FDA approved its use as a general-purpose sweetener in foods and beverages. In 1985, the AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs concluded that ''available evidence suggests that consumption of aspartame by normal humans is safe and is not associated with serious adverse health effects.'' A recent review by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) concluded aspartame to be completely safe. Use of aspartame within the FDA guidelines appears safe for pregnant women.
Saccharin (Sweet'N Low) is 300 times sweeter than sugar. After bladder cancer was found in male lab rats that were fed huge amounts of Saccharin, the FDA proposed a ban on saccharin in 1977. This ban was never enacted and the warning label on Saccharin was dropped in 2000.
Acesulfame-K (Sunette or Sweet One) is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Acesulfame-K doesn't increase the risk of cancer, according to government agencies and its use appears safe for pregnant women, within FDA guidelines.
Stevia (stevioside) is and herb that is 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia has been used in South America for centuries and has been used in Japan for the past 30 years, as well. Due to it being sold as a dietary supplement, Stevia has not gone through the FDA approval process for use as an artificial sweetener in the U.S.
Sorbitol/Mannitol are sugar alcohols that are found in nature (in plant foods such as fruits and berries). Sorbitol has received the ''Generally Recognized As Safe'' (GRAS) designation from the FDA.
As stated earlier, don’t overdo it with artificial sweeteners; use them for what they were meant for…a tool to make eating a healthier diet and losing weight easier.