Artificial sweeteners seem like attractive alternatives to sugar since they add virtually no calories to your diet. Adding to the allure, you only need to use a fraction compared to the amount of regular sugar you’d normally use for adding sweetness. But there’s a seriously big catch — they’re dangerous and they’re showing up everywhere these days.
Artificial sweeteners are widely used in processed products, including tabletop sweeteners, baked goods, soft drinks, powdered drink mixes, candy, puddings, canned foods, jams and jellies, dairy products, and scores of other foods and beverages.
What’s really scary is that artificial sweeteners have also become popular at home. More and more home cooks are enthusiastically using artificial sweeteners, thinking that they’re healthy alternatives to regular table sugar. And let’s be honest, the information going around has been really confusing. In the 1970s and ‘80s, the US government warned us about the health dangers of artificial sweeteners. They even labeled the “pink” packets as a potential carcinogen back in the day.
But that’s all changed now. Despite mounting clinical and laboratory evidence pointing to dangerous health consequences attributed to artificial sweeteners, the government has now decided that they’re safe. The official position of the FDA and the National Cancer Institute is that there’s no clear cut evidence of disease-causing effects from the use of artificial sweeteners. Unbelievable.
And don’t think for a second that corn syrups are healthy either, despite the intense marketing efforts of the National Corn Growers Association. These sweeteners are popular because they’re cheap and readily available, period. No real chef in their right mind would ever use them otherwise. Sure, the mass produced pre-packaged food industry relies on high fructose corn syrup, but only because it’s a direct path to profits.