I've been limiting added sugars from my diet. Are artificial sweeteners ok to use?
I’m not a dietitian, but I recommend Stevia. In its natural form, it’s one of the safest sweeteners out there. I’ve been using it for awhile with no ill effects.
Artificial sweeteners are an ingredient where the fear mongering associated with the food is a bit overblown. I tend to disregard any animal study on artificial sweetener given the low quality of such studies. So if we look at the collective data, it seems that artificial sweeteners are safe for human consumption but it doesn't necessarily mean they are healthy. Research does tend to suggest that artificial sweeteners may alter our gut bacteria and increase our cravings for sugar (but so does sugar). In addition, evidence doesn't show that switching to diet drinks reduces weight gain.
At the end of the day, my professional opinion is that artificial sweeteners are safe to consume but should be limited. With the option of regular vs. diet pop, I'd opt for diet but my preferred choice would be a carbonated water, such as La Croix.
Hope this helps!
Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
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Hi @Susan_RD_101 — should "natural flavors" in foods be a concern? The YouTube channels I follow tend to have it out for natural flavors, but I wonder if they are safe to eat. They aren't regulated by the USDA, are they?
A lot of carbonated waters have natural flavors — which the companies usually say are essential oils — which is why I'm asking.
(It's better than carbonated water with artificial sweetener or HFCS, though. Right?)
Natural flavors are regulated through the FDA in the United States. While I can't speak to the detailed process that is used, there's either a recognition of GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for well-known structures or scientific study to prove safety for novel additives.
I'd be skeptical of anything posted on YouTube, especially if they aren't sharing a well-criticized meta-analysis or systematic review. I do agree that it's beneficial to avoid HFCS and excess artificial sweeteners.