Artificial sweeteners, which is the best option?

WRITTEN BY: Fernanda Alvarado

Artificial sweeteners are designed for those who want to reduce their sugar intake or find an alternative to refined or natural sugars. In Mexico, though there’s a high percentage of people living with different types of diabetes, the population in general loves sweets. What would be better than having sweets that maintain their sugary taste but without the actual sugar? Artificial sweeteners allow people with Type 2 diabetes to indulge in their guilty pleasures without worrying about blood sugar spikes.

Few calories and a lot of sweetness

Obesity and some heart conditions, which are linked to developing Type 2 diabetes, are directly related to the consumption of large amounts of sugar. The use of sweeteners with few or no calories could be a good option. However, these little packets aren’t suitable for everyone. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, children, people suffering from migraines and epilepsy are susceptible to the adverse effects that this type of products can cause.

Different colors and different sweeteners

Sugar substitutes come in colored packets, this is because each color refers to the type of sweetener they contain.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes the use of aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame-K and stevia as safe. Recently, Advantame and Swingle fruit extract, also called Luo Han Guo, were added to the list.

Pink – Saccharin

  • Brand names include Sweet and Low, Sweet Trin, Sweet’N Low, and Necta Sweet.
  • It was discovered and used for the first time in 1879, it has been used in food and drinks for more than a century.
    It is 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar and it doesn’t contain calories.
  • It causes controversy regarding toxic effects and its connection to cancer (especially bladder), obesity and increased body weight.
  • In May 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services eliminated saccharin from its list of cancer-causing chemicals, despite sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals.

Blue – Aspartame

  • Brand names are Nutrasweet, Equal, and Sugar Twins.
  • It was approved for the first time for use in 1981.
  • It is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar and contains calories.
  • You can reduce its sweetness in preparations that involve long cooking or baking time.
  • People who suffer from phenylketonuria (PKU), the inability to split the amino acid phenylalanine, cannot consume products containing aspartame. Because of this, beverages and foods containing aspartame must state it on their labels.

Yellow – Sucralose

  • Also known as Splenda and is considered a general purpose sweetener for beverages, gum, baking, and frozen dairy products.
  • It was approved for the first time for use in 1998.
  • Approximately 600 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Unlike other substitutes, it is stable when heated and can, therefore, be used in baked and fried products.
  • In December 2016, a study was published which warned about the effects of sucralose on thyroid function, appetite increase and weight gain. This research was carried out in rats.
  • It is the only non-caloric sweetener made from sugar and considered the only substitute for zero-calorie sugar.

Green – Steviol Glycosides

  • Also known as Stevia, Truvia, and Pure Via.
  • It is a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana bertoni.
  • It’s 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Stevia sweeteners are safe. The maximum allowable intake, of Steviol, is 4 mg/kg of body weight.
  • In general, these packets are mixed with another type of sweeteners, mainly polyalcohols, which can cause gastrointestinal discomfort if consumed in excess.

Other Artificial Sweeteners

Acesulfame Potatssium (Ace-K):

  • Known as Sunnett and Sweet One.
  • Found on labels as Ace-K, acesulfame K, or acesulfame potassium.
  • Is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is combined with other sweeteners.
  • Approved in 2003 as a sweetener for general purposes and as a flavor enhancer, except in meat and poultry.
  • Suitable as a sugar substitute in baked goods and used in frozen desserts, candy, and beverages.


  • No known brand name.
  • Is used as a general purpose flavor enhancer and sweetener in foods with the exception of meat and poultry.
  • Is 20,000 times sweeter than table sugar and is a good sugar substitute for baking.

Luo Han Guo Fruit Extracts:

  • Comes from monk fruit, a plant native to Southern China.
  • Brand names include Nectresse, Monk Fruit in the Raw, and PureLo
  • Is 100 to 250 times sweeter than sugar.


  • Also known as Newtame.
  • Approved for use as a general sweetener and flavor enhancer, except in meat and poultry.
  • Is 7,000 to 13,000 sweeter than table sugar.
  • Suitable for as a sugar substitute for baking.

Beware of the dose

Although scientific opinion is quite divided, it is important to promote the consumption of natural foods and only use sweeteners when necessary and at the lowest concentration possible, whether they are natural or artificial sweeteners, with or without calories.

It is not only about counting calories, but to take care of the quality of the food. Be an informed consumer and be sure to read the labels; there are many products that misrepresent their makeup of their contents and add sugar or mix of two or more substances.


Splenda is my favorite. tastes the closest to sugar, IMHO. Costco has great deals on Splenda.


Splenda or storebrand is what I use. I stay away from sugar alcohols. Nancy50

I am a little familiar with these. In terms of actual digestive health i would have suggest saccharin. I’m not sure if the link to bladder cancer has been removed or not. It also tastes the best in coffee. The problem with Splenda is how they make it. Not only is it made from dextrose, but they use a bleaching agent to make it that color white. And when you go to the bathroom that bleach agent or whatever it is goes into the sewer and into the environment and is actually bad for microbes and the ecosystem in general. But I wouldn’t imagine Splenda would be too forthcoming about sharing that with the public. Kind of like plastic straws. It’s what the public wants. Who cares about the environment? Equal as a kid I loved it. It tastes kind of bitter though to me now, and I’ve heard it also is linked to cancers. Artificial sweeteners can upset metabolism in the sense that they can trick the body specifically the liver that it is actually real sugar which it is not. I’m not really sure about this as I’ve never checked with myself, but I could believe it. And stevia I have had as well, not a huge fan but it’s ok. It’s now so mass produced these days though. I remember sugar twin that I liked. It was yellow. Anyways in my opinion saccharin is the best. Thank you for the list there are some names I am not familiar with.

This post would be more properly titled “sugar substitutes” since it includes stevia and monk fruit, which aren’t artificial. At that point it probably should also include sugar alcohols, which are other natural sugar substitutes.

Are you referring to the fact that they replace some of the atoms in the dextrose molecule with a chlorine compound? That’s not for bleaching it, that’s how they make the actual chemical. It’s an altered dextrose molecule that’s something like 600x sweeter than sugar. Because of that, almost anything you consume with sucralose has minuscule amounts of sucralose in it anyway.

I used Sweet & Low for years, until I was diagnosed with Bladder CA in 2005. I switched to Splenda then and have been using it ever since.

The only reason I hadn’t switched earlier was cost, but now I get it at B.J.'s, incredibly cheap. And, I find that on the rare occasion I’m having coffee or tea at a restaurant that does’t supply Splenda, I no longer like the taste of the other sweeteners. Splenda just tastes more natural to me.

I do not use many products with artificial sweetener. If I do, I try to get things with sucralose. I tried Truvia and other stevia products but I think they taste bad and have a bad aftertaste. However, I recently found this sweeter at Starbucks. It has stevia and monk fruit and like Truvia, it has erythritol. It has 0 carbs—Whole Earth Sweetner Co. It is really sweet and I use about 1 packet a day in black decaf. coffee. It doesn’t seem to do anything to my bg. If you haven’t tried it you can try it for free at Starbucks.

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I use the green stevia tabletts. They do not taste so good and have a bad aftertaste IMHO.

Has anyone used xylitol? My wife (T2D) uses it for coffee and for cooking. It doesn’t have the bad gastrointestinal issues associated with other sugar alcohols unless you consume more than 50g/day. I’ve had every artificial sweetener in under the sun having been diabetic for 46 years and xylitol’s taste for me is the closest to sugar. We buy it in bulk packages but it’s not cheap.

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I thought about giving this a try too as I saw few recipes that mentioned xylitol.

However the price tag put me off for the moment. May be in few weeks ! :slight_smile:

I have been using pure liquid Splenda for many years. I buy it online as Sweetzfree. It has no bulking agents like the sugar replacements that are granular. Since I no longer bake nor cook very much, I use it only in my single cup of morning coffee. Works for me.

I like xylitol. Just be careful if you have dogs—it’s very toxic to them! Erythritol also has low risk of GI problems and has even lower caloric/BG effects than xylitol, so another good option, and both are natural if that matters to folks.

I like splenda and monkfruit. Stevia is becoming more common but I find it has a weird aftertaste.