Remember when the only sugar substitute available was saccharin? Those pink packets of Sweet ‘n’ Low used to be the only choice you had with your cup of coffee at the local diner…and the cause of the nasty aftertaste in your can of TAB.
It was a long time before another sweetener came along, and in the beginning, we all thought Nutrasweet was the answer to our prayers. Sales of Nutrasweet skyrocketed, and one of the most interesting facts to come out of that time was that despite Nutrasweet’s amazing sales, sales of sugar remained steady. We later found out that people were buying Nutrasweet to make things even sweeter, without the guilt of sugar! Equal is the brand name for Nutrasweet, the artificial sweetener that contains aspartame. We now know that aspartame can cause seizures in some people, namely phenylketonurics, and they’re being told to avoid it. It also has an overly-sweet unnatural taste.
Enter Splenda, the brand name for sucralose, in the yellow packets. Sucralose is a sugar alcohol. It does not affect your blood sugar and it contains no calories. But sucralose is not a natural product: it’s a total guys-in-white-lab-coats creation. Almost no aftertaste, but now there are claims that Splenda alters and even kills important flora in your gut.
OK, so how about that cute little Stevia leaf? The sweetener in the Stevia leaf is natural, and marketing makes it seem like it’s the only ingredient in products like Truvia. But the fact is that the Stevia extract is extremely potent, so they use a very small amount of it. So to “bulk it up,” they add erythritol, which is another sugar alcohol. The only good thing about this is that erythritol is indeed naturally occurring, so Truvia can rightly claim to be a “natural” sweetener. For me, this is the best choice of all sugar substitutes: all natural and no aftertaste.
Sweetleaf, besides being a song by Black Sabbath, is another all-natural sweetener that combines the extract of the Stevia leaf with a soluble vegetable fiber called inulin. Sweetleaf contains zero calories and does not affect blood sugar.
But the inulin leaves a real nasty aftertaste that had me throwing a boxful of packets into the trash after one sip.
Nectresse is made by those fabulous Splenda people and they claim it’s all natural…a no-calorie sweetener that comes from the monk fruit (combined with “other natural flavors.”) I’d like to know what those other natural flavors are, but I can’t find it on their website. I haven’t tried this one, but when all the reviews about it start with: “It took a while to get used to the aftertaste, but now I kinda like it”….that’s not exactly a rave, as far as I’m concerned!
Sugar itself is not evil, and most people that watch what they eat can probably use it. But if you’re diabetic…or if you guzzle sodas, juices, and sports drinks…and eat packaged and processed foods that have tons of hidden sugar (aka high fructose corn syrup)…a sugar substitute may be a good move.