According to the Food and Drug Administration, artificial sweeteners, also known as high-intensity sweeteners, are much sweeter than sugar. They are often praised for adding very few calories to foods and beverages, but there is a trade-off. These manufactured sugar substitutes add chemicals to a person’s diet. Side effects of artificial sweeteners range from increased cravings for sweets, to digestive issues. They’ve been linked to imbalances in the natural gut bacteria that so vital to maintaining overall health and preventing disease.
Artificial sweeteners are most often found in processed foods that are marketed and labeled as “diet” or “sugar-free.” This includes soft drinks, drink mixes, candy, canned foods, jellies and jams, dairy products, baked goods, and much more.
The six artificial/high-intensity sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration as food additives are:
- Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
Stevia is another sweetener and sugar substitute that is generally recognized as safe by the FDA.
Other names for added and artificial sugars or sweeteners that you may find in the ingredient listing of processed foods and beverages include:
- Brown rice syrup
- Dehydrated cane juice
- Evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- High fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
Is Brown Sugar Healthy?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, brown sugar contains about 17 kilocalories per teaspoon, compared with 16 kilocalories per teaspoon for white sugar. Because of its molasses content, brown sugar does contain some minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium, but not enough to produce any noticeable difference in nutritional value. So no, brown sugar is no more healthy than plain white sugar.
Healthy Amount of Sugar Per Day
When it comes to sugar consumption, it’s best to choose natural sources like fruits, vegetables, and unsweetened dairy products.
The American Heart Association suggests the following guidelines for daily sugar intake:
- Men: 36 grams or 9 teaspoons per day
- Women: 24 grams or 6 teaspoons per day
- Preschool: 16 grams or 4 teaspoons per day
- 4-8 years: 12 grams or 3 teaspoons per day
- Pre-teens/teens: 20-32 grams or 5-8 teaspoons per day
In general, Americans consume far more sugar than recommended. The biggest source of excess sugar is sweetened beverages. One 12-ounce can of soda contains roughly 10 teaspoons of sugar – more than the recommended daily total for men and women.
Wondering if you’re consuming too much sugar and if it’s taking a toll on your health? Talk to one of the many exceptional District Medical Group physicians at Valleywise Health. Dr. Nyima Ali at Valleywise Community Health Center – South Phoenix and Dr. Kevin Lopez at Valleywise Community Health Center – Avondale and Valleywise Comprehensive Health Center – Phoenix, both of whom specialize in obesity medicine, can answer questions and provide more information on the role of sugar in obesity. Call 1 (833) VLLYWSE to make an appointment today.