3 myths about artificial sweeteners

3 Myths about Artificial Sweeteners

With the help of Virtua registered dietitian Charlotte Genetta, we’re debunking three widely-spread artificial sweetener “truths."

Myth: Drinking diet soda helps you lose weight.

Fact: Zero calories is a good thing, right? Well, maybe not. In fact, drinking diet soda may actually cause weight gain.

While this is still being researched, some believe that diet soda causes your brain to crave calories, leaving you eating more instead of less.

There can also be a “halo effect.” Many people think that drinking diet soda leaves room to eat more. “The calories you save by drinking diet soda don’t counter-balance a high-calorie meal,” Genetta says.

Myth: Artificial sweeteners cause cancer.

Fact: “Research doesn’t show that artificial sweeteners cause cancer; it’s a misconception people have because it’s a chemical,” Genetta says.

However, you should know that some people can be very sensitive to artificial sugars. Aspartame and sucralose have been known to trigger migraines and aggravate Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Myth: Artificial sweeteners are 100% safe.

Fact: Just because there’s no cancer connection doesn’t mean they’re 100% safe.

Genetta points out that when diet soda is warehoused, it may not be refrigerated. Under warm conditions, aspartame decomposes and formaldehyde forms.

In addition, if you’re drinking canned soda, the cans may be lined with Bisphenol A (BPA), which has been known to mimic the hormone estrogen and interfere with nervous and reproductive system development.

To avoid BPA, Genetta recommends buying your soda in a bottle. Look for the number 1 or 2 on the bottom of the bottle to be sure you’re not consuming BPA.

While Genetta shares these points so that you’re fully informed, please note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that small amounts of formaldehyde and BPA can be consumed without harming your health.

Updated December 29, 2017

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