Can you really have your cake and eat it too?

We have all heard that eating excess sugar is bad. Doing so can cause weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Because everyone likes to have their cake and eat it too, it’s nice to think that using artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes would solve our problem: We could enjoy the taste of sweetness without the detrimental health effects.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes are even worse for our health than the sugar they were supposed to replace.

Here are the top six worst sugar substitutes and why you should avoid them.

Aspartame is the worst culprit. Other names for it are Equal, NutraSweet, Spoonful, and Equal Measure. Of all the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA, Aspartame is responsible for 75% of them, including seizures and death!

One of its chemical components is aspartic acid, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter. In concentrated amounts, it can kill your brain cells by causing too much calcium to flow into them at once. This is likely the reason why consuming aspartame can cause memory loss, headaches, sleep and vision problems, anxiety, and depression.

Splenda is next worst on the list. It contains sucralose, which is made by adding three chlorine molecules to sugar. This makes it 600 times sweeter than sugar, which is why you only need a tiny amount compared to regular sugar. Sucralose is an artificial substance that doesn’t exist in nature, so the body can’t process it. For this reason, it can cause digestive problems along with blurred vision, migraine headaches, and dizziness.

Acesulfame potassium is also known as ACE K, Sunette, Equal Spoonful, Sweet One, and Sweet ‘n Safe. There have been very few studies done on it and some of these studies linked this sweetener to cancer. The FDA has asked for more testing. In the meantime, it is best to avoid it.

Saccharin, also know as Sweet ‘n Low and Sweet Twin, is a coal tar derivative. Coal tar is carcinogenic. Even though it is 300 to 400 times sweeter than sugar, saccharin has zero calories, which makes it attractive for people who want to lose weight. It has a bitter metallic aftertaste and causes bladder cancer in rats. It was banned in the 1970s. Since 2014, it is once again permitted in Canada on the grounds that it may not cause bladder cancer in humans.

The next two are natural substances and not as bad as the previous four.

Agave nectar comes from the agave cactus, which needs to be highly processed to extract the nectar. It is about one-and-a-half times sweeter than sugar. Even though it is less likely to cause blood sugar spikes than regular sugar, it is more likely to reduce insulin sensitivity and metabolism. It also contains more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. High fructose leads to high blood triglycerides, which can cause metabolic syndrome and all its accompanying illnesses.

Xylitol is the least bad of the six. The reason why it’s on the bad list is because it’s a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are empty calories that are also poorly absorbed and may not be safe for everyone, especially children. Xylitol is toxic to dogs. It can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to it, along with gas, bloating, and diarrhea. On the plus side, it is a by-product of normal human metabolism, so it’s found naturally in the body, and it can promote remineralization of tooth enamel. You could try it and see if it works for you. Use in moderation.

You can have your cake using these sweeteners, but don’t eat it! Read the next post titled “If you really want your cake, here’s how you can eat it too!”  to find out how you can have your cake and eat it too.