When we see carbonated drinks that are labelled “sugar-free”, is it as advertised? Or is it a marketing gimmick and they probably contain artificial sweeteners? We certainly think so.
Unlike products with processed nasties, SodaStream offers a delicious selection of natural-flavoured syrups and mixes that comfort cravings with no compromise on taste and health benefits. That being said, let’s discover more about artificial sweeteners and what we should do about them:
What are Artificial Sweeteners?
Simply put, artificial sweeteners are chemicals added to food and drinks to make them taste sweet. Most of them contain zero calories and offer no nutritional value whatsoever. Traditionally, artificial sweeteners have been the only option for people who need to monitor their glucose levels or weight. Some experts have reported that they pose health hazards, ranging from extreme weight gain to cancer.
Also known as “non-nutritive sweeteners”, these sugar substitutes can also cause addiction to overly sweet foods. Unfortunately, it isn’t just food and drinks we need to worry about; these artificial sweeteners are also hidden in products like toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum, breakfast cereals, processed snack foods, and more.
What are Artificial Sweeteners made from?
While some of them are made from natural substances like herbs, the rest are produced in labs and can be 200 to 700 times sweeter than sugar! Depending on the specific artificial sweetener being referred to, the elements involved vary:
Two naturally occurring amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, are components of proteins found in our body and food. Side effects may include type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, toxic liver disease, and neurological tumours.
Derived from sugar using a multi-step manufacturing process that involves three atoms of chlorine replacing three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule. Side effects may include alterations in glucose and insulin levels, probiotic depletion, and an increased risk of digestive problems.
Produced by oxidising the chemicals o-toluene sulfonamide or phthalic anhydride, saccharin can have side effects that negatively affect the balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.
Produced by the chemical reactions between sulfamic acid, diketene, triethylamine, acetic acid, sulphur trioxide, and potassium hydroxide. Side effects may include weight gain, shifts in gut microbiome, and chronic inflammation.
List of Artificial Sweeteners to Avoid
Now that you’re aware of some of the risks that come along with certain artificial sweeteners, here are some of the most popular and dangerous ones in the market today:
- Acesulfame potassium
- Sweet ‘N Low
We recommend reading nutritional labels on the packaging to understand their ingredients and to keep these sugar substitutes at bay. For example: aspartame in artificial sweetener brands like Nutrasweet®, Equal® and Sugar Twin®.
The Best Natural Alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners
Some experts recommend fruit because, unlike artificial sweeteners, there are no empty calories and the sugars are naturally occurring. Check out this list for a natural sweetener that may suit you:
- Raw honey (1 tablespoon = 64 calories)
- Stevia (0 calories)
- Dates (1 Medjool date = 66 calories)
- Coconut sugar (1 tablespoon = 45 calories)
- Maple syrup (1 tablespoon = 52 calories)
- Blackstrap molasses (1 tablespoon = 47 calories)
- Balsamic glaze (1 tablespoon = 20–40 calories, depending on thickness)
- Banana puree (1 cup = 200 calories)
- Brown rice syrup (1 tablespoon = 55 calories)
- Real fruit jam (varies depending on the fruit)
- Monk fruit (0 calories)
Alternatively, you can consume SodaStream drink mixes that have a variety of fruity or classic flavours. Simply add carbonated water to enjoy that bubbly feeling. Plus, one 440ml container makes up 9 litres, so you can serve up healthy-yet-satisfying fizz for everyone!
How Much Artificial Sweetener is Safe to Consume Per Day?
According to the FDA, the limits range from 0.3mg/kg body weight to 50 mg/kg per day for artificial sweeteners (depending on the sweetener). For example, it is around 15 mg/kg per day for saccharin and 50 mg/kg per day for aspartame.
That being said, some people should avoid artificial sweeteners altogether. Individuals with Phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare metabolic disorder, in particular, should refrain from consuming aspartame. This is due to their bodies' inability to metabolise the amino phenylalanine, which is found in aspartame.
The truth about artificial sweeteners is concerning, with potential health risks and hidden presence in everyday products. It's crucial to be aware of the dangers and make informed choices for our well-being. Instead of opting for processed products containing artificial sweeteners, SodaStream offers a range of natural-flavoured syrups and drink mixes that satisfy cravings without compromising taste or health benefits. By choosing healthier alternatives, we can enjoy sweetness without sacrificing our well-being.