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Debunking myth: Reality behind sugar-free products

Debunking myth: Reality behind sugar-free products Illustrative photo (Photo: Freepik)
Author: Daria Shekina

In the pursuit of new trends, people often seek healthier alternatives to conventional products. Particularly in products labeled "sugar-free," manufacturers frequently offer sugar substitutes, according to the website of the Ministry of Health's Public Health Center.

What are sugar substitutes?

Sugar substitutes are sweeteners used instead of regular table sugar. Some manufacturers insincerely label their sweeteners as natural, even if they undergo significant technological processing.

Therefore, products or beverages labeled "sugar-free" or "diet" often include both artificial and natural sugar substitutes.

Natural sugar substitutes include fruit juices and nectars, honey, and maple syrup, often advertised as healthier alternatives compared to regular sugar or other substitutes.

However, even natural sweeteners may undergo processing, casting doubt on their naturalness.

Natural sweeteners are generally safe, but it's essential to understand that consuming any form of added sugar does not contribute to health benefits.

Such sweeteners lack many beneficial nutrients, including fiber, polyphenols, vitamins, or minerals. Excessive consumption of any sugar, including natural substitutes, may lead to health issues such as cavities, excessive weight gain, and elevated triglyceride levels (a risk for cardiovascular diseases).

Are artificial substitutes beneficial?

Artificial sugar substitutes can be made from synthetic substances (e.g., from plants). These substitutes are extremely sweet and contain almost no calories.

They are used in processed foods (soft drinks, baked goods, candies, puddings, jams, and dairy products). Unlike classic sugar, they do not raise blood glucose levels, which is crucial for people with diabetes.

What you should know

The World Health Organization does not recommend the use of non-sugar sweeteners for weight control or reducing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, or cancer. However, this recommendation does not apply to individuals with diabetes.

The organization lists several sweeteners: aspartame, acesulfame potassium, advantame, saccharin, cyclamates, neotame, sucralose, and stevia.

Substituting free sugars with artificial or natural sweeteners does not assist in long-term weight control.

It's best to opt for a balanced diet and limit added sugar intake to no more than 10 teaspoons—reduce consumption of sweetened beverages, sweets, pastries, and sweet breakfast cereals.

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be used for medical diagnosis or self-treatment. Our goal is to provide readers with accurate information about symptoms, causes, and methods of detecting diseases. RBС-Ukraine is not responsible for any diagnoses that readers may make based on materials from the resource. We do not recommend self-treatment and advise consulting a doctor in case of any health concerns.