Aspartame, xylitol and Stevia might sound like Doctor Who villains, but in fact they are sugar substitutes, or sweeteners.
Most of us have been consuming them in some form since the first of them, saccharin – dubbed ‘the poor man’s sugar’ – was formulated by German chemists more than 100 years ago. And fears about their potentially toxic effects date back almost as far.
Diabetes, cancer, strokes, seizures, hypertension, vomiting, dizziness – all have been cited as risks from sweetener consumption. Yet none of these claims has stuck, and today sweeteners are a global industry worth hundreds of millions of pounds. They are found in more than 6,000 products from drinks and desserts to cakes, chewing gum and ready meals.
Last week a new study emerged, with Purdue University in Indiana claiming that diet drinks containing the artificial sweetener aspartame (such as Coke Zero) are no healthier than their full-sugar counterparts and could contribute to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.
The report author, Professor Susan Swithers, suggested this could be because the chemical fails to trigger the ‘full’ feeling in our brain, so we over-indulge elsewhere. She also proposed a link between aspartame and metabolic syndrome, a much-disputed term denoting a combination of symptoms that increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
So are there really dangers involved in swapping sugar with manufactured alternatives? Have we all been misled? We asked the experts:
Source - Daily Mail