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Sugar Substitutes

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What you need to know about artificial sweeteners

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Sugar Substitutes

Many people use sugar substitutes in order to eat their favorite foods without the calories. Over the years several unclear claims were made regarding the safety of these sweeteners. Since then, The Food and Drug Administration conducted scores of safety studies and approved an assortment of sucrose alternatives. Here's a breakdown:

Sucralose
Product: Splenda
Description: A zero-calorie substitute for sugar that can be used for baking. It's also safe for diabetics.
What the FDA says: Nearly 600 times sweeter than sugar, you should limit your daily intake to roughly 330 mg—the equivalent to 6 cans of diet cola.

Saccharin
Product: Sweet 'N Low
Description: This substitute has less than 4 calories per serving, is 300 times sweeter than sugar, and can also be used for baking.
What the FDA says: With each packet containing 36 mg, the acceptable daily intake is roughly 9 packets per day.

Aspartame
Product: NutraSweet and Equal
Description: Early claims suggested that aspartame was linked to brain cancer, but according to the National Cancer Institute, no clear evidence was found. People with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria should not use aspartame.
What the FDA says: You can safely consume around 3,290 mg of this sweetener a day. There are 180 mg of aspartame in a 12-ounce serving of diet soda, which breaks down to about 18 cans. That being said, sugar-free soft drinks, candy and desserts provide few nutritional benefits, so be sure to use artificial sweeteners sensibly.

*Intake estimates based on a 145-pound woman

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