Most of us out there have been brought up with a very clear understanding of what sugar is. Most of us love it and are in fact quite addicted to it.

However during the past few decades more and more negative research and press continues to come out about sugar. This has been hard for many to ignore – given our weight, diabetes and other health problems.

Thus as sugar’s popularity began to decrease, the popularity of artificial sweeteners began to grow. However, unlike our familiarity with sugar, most of us today did not grow up with many of the artificial sweeteners that are around today. Most of us have no idea where they come from, how they compare to sugar and even if they are safe for us to consume.

Therefore, today I want to present you with a quick guide to understanding artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes.

Why Go Artificial?

Artificial sweeteners gained popularity the most for no other reason than the fact that we want to have our cake and eat it too – literally. By now most people have caught on to the fact that sugar = quick weight gain.

Thus the main reason why people have turned and continue to turn to artificial sweeteners is that we want the sweetness of sugar in many common foods, but without the unnecessary calories. Thus, this brought about the popularity and age of artificial sweeteners.

These are often, many times sweeter than sugar, but contain few, if any calories. Sugar on the other hand, biochemically exists either as a single or double sugar which is full of calories and needs minimal if any digestion, thereby going straight into our blood stream.

Since sugar is an energy source and our body quickly gets overwhelmed with too much energy, most of it gets packed away into our fat cells, as there is only so much that our cells need or can store in their short-term reserves. That is only the tipping point where the problems with sugar and our health are concerned.

The second biggest reason why some people look toward artificial sweeteners is because they may have diabetes and thus have to avoid increasing their blood-sugar. Some artificial sweeteners completely do not act like sugars in our body and thus became a perfect option for diabetics – sweet taste, minus the high if any blood-sugar health risks.

So let us examine the artificial sweeteners out there and learn a little bit more about what some of us may be putting into our bodies.

1. Acesulfame-K

  • is 200 times sweeter than sugar

  • was introduced in 1967, approved by FDA in 1988 and had its use expanded in 1998

  • breaks down into acetoacetamide, which has been linked to thyroid problems and tumor formation

  • thought not to be metabolized by the body and excreted in urine

  • has no calories

  • to date has not been tested properly and is considered the worst sweetener by some due to the great lack of information and testing done on it

  • FDA has no plans of removing it from the market anytime soon or to push for proper testing

2. Aspartame

  • most commonly known as Equal or NutraSweet

  • is about 200 times sweeter than sugar

  • has essentially no calories (due to small amounts used)

  • discovered in 1965, refused at first by the FDA in 1974 and approved by FDA in 1980

  • made from amino acids and metabolized by body through various toxic reactions

  • breaks down into the amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid, as well as methanol (or wood alcohol – known poison) and possibly formaldehyde

  • is considered a neurotoxic substance that has been associated with numerous health problems including dizziness, visual impairment, severe muscle aches, numbing of extremities, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, retinal hemorrhaging, seizures, multiple sclerosis like symptoms and depression, as well it is suspected of causing birth defects and chemical disruptions in the brain

3. Saccharin

  • most commonly known as Sweet ’N Low

  • is 200 – 700 times sweeter than sugar

  • has no calories

  • originally synthesized from toluene/coal tar in late 1800′s

  • thought not to be metabolized by the body and excreted in urine

  • is the most tested artificial sweetener to date

  • studies have continually proven links to cancer

  • considered for official ban in 1977, but instead got removed from carcinogenic list in US in 2000

4. Sucralose

  • most commonly known as Splenda

  • is about 600 times sweeter than sugar

  • discovered in 1976, approved by Canada in 1991 and by FDA in 1998

  • made by chlorination of sucrose

  • has no calories

  • considered a safe alternative to aspartame, saccharin and acesulfame K by most

  • studies however have been inadequate and some have pointed at links between sucralose and thymus and immune dysfunction, as well as possibly being mutagenic

5. Stevia

  • most commonly known as Truvia

  • is about 100 – 300 times sweeter than sugar

  • breaks down into steviol, which some suspected of being mutagenic

  • rejected by FDA for approval in 1990 and earlier for oddly unjustified/political reasons

  • extracts of Stevia got approved by the FDA in December 2008

  • comes from natural plant origin, but commercially sold in chemically altered form

  • considered by many natural health proponents as the ultimate safe sweetener

6. Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol and Xylitol

  • are chemically known as sugar alcohols

  • are half as sweet as sugar

  • are not well absorbed by the body

  • produce a laxative effect in large quantities

7. Neotame

  • is about 7,000 – 13,000 times sweeter than sugar

  • chemically related to aspartame

  • has no calories

  • approved by the FDA in 2002

  • not widely used to date, mostly due to the known problems with aspartame

8. Cyclamate

  • known as the original Sweet N’ Low

  • discovered in 1937 and banned by FDA in 1970

  • a petition has been currently filed to the FDA for re-approval

  • animal studies showed product to be carcinogenic

9. High Fructose Corn Syrup

  • commonly referred to as glucose/fructose in Canada

  • in use since about the 1980’s

  • produced by processing that increases the fructose content

  • depending on the formulation may be sweeter, just as sweet or slightly less sweet than sugar

  • cheaper than sugar

  • contains calories equivalent to regular sugar

  • greatly linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease


The above is just a condensed summary of what each of the sugar substitutes is all about. If you ingest any of the above, it would be very wise to conduct more of your own research on the product if you intend to keep using it, as each one carries with it a certain risk.

My personal health advice to you is not to go up and down the list and see which one is the better option to rely on. Aside from perhaps Stevia, the sugar alcohols and high fructose corn syrup, all of the other sweeteners are nothing more than chemical substances which should not be ingested by anyone in any amounts.

While some of us can rely on the FDA or other governing bodies to make the decisions for us, I strongly urge you not to be a guinea pig yourself. The fact that these substances are being used by people today is nothing short of perhaps one of the best long term studies that is taking place at our own personal expense. Unfortunately, many people are learning the hard way and paying for it with their health, that these substances are not safe or at least do not lead to average, never mind optimal health.

While your concerns about calories, blood-glucose stress and dental health are valid when it comes to eating regular sugar, what we really should be moving towards are not sugar replacements, but complete sugar removals. Yes, this may sound unrealistic to many, but again it comes down to how serious you are about your health and how open minded you are to break out of the clever brainwashing that has taken place in society up until this point. Several companies are making billions of dollars off of the sugar industry, while we pay both financially and with our health.

We can continue to come up with any and every excuse why we need sugar, crave sugar or want sugar, or we can just break the vicious cycle, detoxify and get off of the addictive substance once and for all, to live out our best health ever, processed-sugar free!


For detailed information on artificial sweeteners, check out the following sites:



  3. From Dr. Mercola “New Study of Splenda Reveals Shocking Information about Potential Harmful Effects

For more information on sugar and its effects, check out sugar expert Dr. Scott Olson’s site, OR his book Sugarettes