By now, most health-conscious people know that zero-calorie artificial sweeteners are useless for weight loss. In fact, they actually make you gain weight.
But researchers also have found that they are dangerous to your health in another way that may surprise you…
They damage your blood vessels.i
A study from Marquette University is the most in-depth look ever at the biochemical changes caused by artificial sweeteners.
Researchers focused on the zero-calorie sweeteners aspartame (Equal) and acesulfame potassium (Ace K). They fed them to rats and then took detailed assessments of their health.
Artificial Sweeteners Are Even Worse Than We Thought
Dr. Brian Hoffman led the study. He’s an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
Dr. Hoffman said that our bodies are equipped to burn sugar—as long as we don’t eat too much. But artificial sweeteners are “foreign substances” that our bodies don’t know how to deal with, he said.
“We observed that, in moderation, your body has the machinery to handle sugar,” he said. “It is when the system is overloaded over a long period of time that this machinery breaks down.
“We also observed that replacing these sugars with non-caloric artificial sweeteners leads to negative changes in fat and energy metabolism.”
Going from regular sugar-sweetened soda to diet drinks is not a healthy switch, Dr. Hoffman said. It’s a case of “out of the frying pan and into the fire,” he and his colleagues concluded.ii
Artificial sweeteners change how the body processes fat and gets its energy. Acesulfame potassium builds up in the body over time. At higher concentrations, it causes severe damage to blood vessels, the researchers found.
Dr. Hoffman warned that “if you chronically consume (artificial sweeteners), the risk of negative health outcomes increases.”
If you have a sweet tooth, pass on chemical products. Stick to natural sweeteners. There are plenty that are healthier than sugar and don’t carry the risks of artificial sweeteners.
6 Natural Sugar Alternatives
- Coconut sugar. Made from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm, it has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. This prevents blood sugar spikes. It’s also a great source of potassium, which helps fight metabolic syndrome. Despite its name, it doesn’t have a coconut flavor. The taste is more along the lines of brown sugar. You can swap it out for regular sugar in cooking.
- Agave nectar. This honey-like sap comes from the leaves of blue agave, a succulent plant in Mexico. Like coconut sugar, agave nectar has a low glycemic index. It’s 1-1/2 times sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need to use as much.iii
- Raw honey. Not all honey is the same. Most honey, probably the kind you have sitting in your pantry, is heavily processed. Your best bet is 100% raw organic honey. It hasn’t been heated, pasteurized, or processed in any way. Raw honey contains vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The darker the honey, the more nutrients and flavor. It’s just as sweet as sugar, only much healthier. It also has antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties.
- Blackstrap molasses. With its robust bittersweet flavor, blackstrap molasses is the liquid byproduct of sugarcane. But don’t confuse blackstrap molasses with regular molasses. They’re produced differently. Blackstrap molasses contains an array of healthy minerals such as iron, vitamin B6, magnesium, and calcium. It also has more antioxidants than any other natural sweetener. It also has a low glycemic index to help control blood sugar levels.iv
- Stevia. This low-calorie natural sweetener is made from the leaves of a plant native to South America. Stevia is much sweeter than regular sugar. So a little goes a long way. The leaves can be used whole or ground. Its glycemic index is zero. So it has no effect on your blood sugar. There are also no artificial ingredients in it.v
- Date sugar. Made from dehydrated dates, it is loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is best used for baking since it doesn’t dissolve very well in liquids. It makes a great alternative to brown sugar. You can find it at health food stores. Just be sure it is unprocessed and raw.
These healthy sugar alternatives offer the sweetness you love, without the blood vessel damage that chemical sweeteners cause.
Editor’s Note: One heart attack risk factor is 10 times more dangerous than cholesterol. But mainstream doctors don’t test for it. And statins actually make it worse.