Natural vs. Artificial Sweeteners: What’s the Difference?

Sugar has been a hot topic over the decades but it’s now the general consensus that it brings nothing to the table when it comes to nutrition, other than empty calories! So, if sugar is off the menu then how do we best get our sweet fix? 🍯

The answer is replacing sugar with sweeteners – giving that sweet taste we crave without the harmful effects of sugar. But not all sugar replacements are created equal, and it could be the case that some are as bad if not worse for us than sugar itself. Read on to discover the difference between natural and artificial sweeteners – and why it matters! 🌱


🙅‍♀️ Why We Need to Ditch Sugar 🙅‍♀️

We’ve all heard the hype around sugar and most of us health-conscious folk try to keep our intake to a minimum, but why exactly? Here’s a brief breakdown of the not-so-sweet truth about sugar, and why we should be removing it from our diets altogether:

🥄 Sugar is Not Nutritious – Sugar is nothing but empty calories, it doesn’t provide any nutrients other than energy. The good news is that because of this, eliminating sugar from your diet will have no detrimental effect whatsoever!

🥄 Leads to Weight Gain – Because sugar is extremely energy dense it can easily tip us over our recommended daily intake for calories – resulting in weight gain. It’s also incredibly addictive and creates havoc with cravings, further adding to the problem!

🥄 Destroys Dental Health – Eating sugar causes rapid bacterial growth and an acidic environment in the mouth – the perfect breeding ground for plaque, dental caries and tooth decay. This is super important for young kids, whose teeth are still growing and don’t have as much protection.

🥄 Increases the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes – The impact of sugar intake on weight gain combined with the effect it has on our blood sugar levels is a double whammy disaster zone when it comes to Type 2 Diabetes. One of the best ways to prevent and manage the condition is to eliminate sugar from the diet.

Sugar is one of the few foods which pretty much all health-opinionated people agree on – aside from taste it delivers nothing nutritious and should be massively limited, or avoided altogether, to promote overall health and wellbeing. To learn more about its harmful effects check out our post on The Truth About Sugar. But for now, lets look at the best way to remove and replace sugar in the diet 🥊

🌿 Natural vs. Artificial Sweeteners  🍬

To understand the difference between these two subclasses of sweeteners you should first know what each is, here’s the answer in a nutshell:

🌿 Natural Sweeteners – Derived from naturally occurring sugar alcohols found in fruits and vegetables.

🍬 Artificial Sweeteners – Synthetic chemical products added to food and drinks to sweeten them.

The difference is clear, right? One is courtesy of Mother Nature and the other manmade. As with most foods, it’s often always the healthier choice to choose the most natural option. So when people talk sweeteners, remember they aren’t all created equal! Let’s explore why.

The Trouble with Artificial Sweeteners

There’s a whole spectrum of artificial sweeteners and some are far worse than others, the most common include aspartame, saccharin and sucralose.

Artificial sweeteners are used to provide a sweet taste with hardly any calories, but they come with their own issues which can be equally detrimental to health – not to mention enjoyment! 

Here’s just a few:

🙅‍♀️ Far Too Sweet – Anywhere from 200 to 600 times as sweet as sugar

🙅‍♀️ Increase Sugar Cravings – Through overstimulating sugar receptors and altering our natural perception of sweetness

🙅‍♀️ Bad for Gut Health – Artificial sweeteners confuse and disrupt gut bacteria, which has a negative impact on overall health

🙅‍♀️ Taste Terrible – We all know at least one person who declares they “can’t stand sweeteners!”, this is likely linked with their intense artificial flavour, which is sometimes ironically perceived as bitterness!

Remember, artificial sweeteners are mostly considered ‘safe for consumption’ but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you, or appetising!

Natural Sugar Replacements: The Sweet Solution

Natural sweeteners such as Stevia, Erythritol and Xylitol are the pure, natural and safe solution to replacing sugar in the diet. They provide the sweet taste we all know and crave with none of the guilt and none of the drawbacks of artificial sweeteners. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of natural sweeteners:

🌱 100% Natural – Extracted from sugar alcohols found naturally in fruit and vegetables – so no hidden nasty ingredients

🌱 Taste More Like Sugar – Their sweetness is more or less on par with that of regular sugar, so you can get a real sweet fix whilst swerving the harmful effects of sugar

🌱 Satisfies Cravings – Because they taste as sweet as sugar – and not hundreds of times sweeter – they curb cravings, instead of creating them!

🌱 No Hidden Nasties – Free from artificial and harmful ingredients commonly found in artificially sweetened products

Natural sweeteners provide all the taste of sugar with very few calories and none of the nasties found in artificial sweeteners. They’re the wise choice for anyone looking to lower their sugar intake but still enjoy the sweet things in life, and are the perfect addition to any healthy lifestyle!

🍯 Final Thought: Natural Doesn’t Always Mean Low Sugar 🍯

Aside from natural and artificial sweeteners, there is also a third option when it comes to sweetening our food – using naturally sweet food products.

Things like maple and agave syrup, honey and coconut sugar are different to processed junk food in that they are naturally high in sugar, it hasn’t been added for flavour. It’s for this reason that many choose to replace conventional sugar with these healthier alternatives.

Trouble is, whilst being entirely natural and more nutritious the fact remains that these are all still high in sugar. The body does not discriminate when it comes to the source of sugar – it still suffers from the harmful effects; tooth decay, impaired blood glucose and excess calorie intake.

So, be mindful that the aforementioned naturally sweet foods may mean choosing the lesser of two evils when it comes to avoiding sugars – and that they aren’t keto or weight-loss friendly.

You won’t be surprised to learn that we are advocates of the amazing benefits of natural sugar replacements, but we hope you now have a greater understanding of why!

We are absolutely thrilled that our Granulated Erythritol has just won “Commended” at the Nourish Awards 2019, a celebration of all things healthy, natural and tasty. Dubbed as the “toughest health food awards” in the UK, The Nourish Awards celebrate the newest generation of health foods which are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. We couldn’t be happier to have received recognition as a business that is working hard to help people make better lifestyle choices! 🎉

Check out our full range of natural sweeteners in the shop tab to continue getting your sweet fix whilst staying happy and healthy, with an award winning taste! 🏆

Author: Stephanie Masterman @NutriNoggin

Dated: 30/09/2019


References

  • Tappuni, A., Al-Kaabi, R. and Joury, E. (2016). Effect of Free Sugars on Diabetes, Obesity, and Dental Caries. Journal of Dental Research, 96(1), pp.116-116.
  • Kroger, M., Meister, K. and Kava, R. (2006). Low-calorie Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes: A Review of the Safety Issues. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 5(2), pp.35-47.
  • Gold, J. (2014). Erythritol May Reduce Dental Caries in High-Risk School Children. Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice, 14(4), pp.185-187.
  • Sylvetsky, A. and Rother, K. (2016). Trends in the consumption of low-calorie sweeteners. Physiology & Behavior, 164, pp.446-450.

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