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The Problems with Artificial Sweeteners and What to Use Instead

Posted by Carmen Chu on



Two packs of splenda please.  

Give me those pink and blue sugar packets please.

Can I have one diet coke please?

Haha that was definitely me 15 years ago but my perspective of these chemical-laden sweeteners have certainly changed.

In 2002, the world saw a surge of consumption of artificial sweeteners and the diet industry simply went bonkers on all sugar substitutes because of its effect on weight loss.  As the years progressed, more and more low calorie sugar alcohols entered the market and all the decadent desserts had a “healthier “ sugar free alternative. Consumers were certainly aware that these were anything but natural but as long as they get to save on calories and lost weight, they didn’t care about potential health issues later on.  

Recent data taken from the US and Australia showed that a whopping 37.4% of the general adult population (age 16 years and older) consume diet soft drinks on a weekly basis.  In China, the low sweetener market is expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2020! That is a lot of sugar substitutes.

Source: NCBI

So what is so bad about artificial sweeteners?

Note: The following information is based around the 4 most popular non-caloric, high intensity sweeteners: Saccharin (Sweet’n Low), Aspartame (Equal), and Sucralose (Splenda)

Weight Gain

A study done in San Antonio showed documented a group of women and men over a 7-8 period and saw that weight gain and obesity were significantly greater in those consuming diet drinks compared with those who did not.  This type of study has been conducted in various countries all around the world and each one revealed a similar result - the rise of obesity amongst individuals who choose sugar-substituted drinks/foods.

Metabolic Syndrome

Similar to the weight gain study, multiple conclusive research done around the world also showed that people drinking diet beverages are at double the risk of suffering from metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, in short, is basically an issue with your body’s ability to metabolize (break down) your foods and drinks. A result of this could be increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the abdomen, and increased cholesterol levels.   All these conditions together can increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and other potentially fatal diseases.

Type 2 Diabetes

Diet beverage consumers are also at a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as one European study concluded.  Specifically with aspartame, it’s known to really trigger or worsen people with diabetes, epilepsy, Alzhemier’s, and Parkinson’s Disease.


Cardiovascular Disease

A studied showed that women who consumed more than 2 artificially-sweetened beverages a day were at a much higher risk for coronary heart disease and hypertension.  


So Are Natural Sugars Better For You?

Let’s first take a look at possible natural sugar options to use:


Source: Best Food Facts

Well according to many studies, sugar is sugar, regardless of the source.  It will have the same health risks as processed white sugar if you consume too much.  So actually, the two main points worth noting here is:

  • If you are to use sugar, use the natural kind.
  • However, overall, we should try to avoid any added sugar.   

  • Don’t worry, a little sugar is perfectly okay!   Especially if you do use the natural sugars such as honey, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, dates, and stevia.  Why? Let’s look at some health benefits associated with these 4 natural sweeteners.


    • Loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as B, folate, iron, manganese, and fluoride
    • Contain Immune boosting properties
    • Anti-cancer properties
    • Strong antioxidants such as quercetin and caffeic acid known to boost energy and performance

    Blackstrap Molasses

    • Known to be a superfood and the most nutritious out of all the grades of molasses
    • Contains the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product
    • Contains essential vitamins and minerals such as B6, magnesium, calcium, manganese, copper, iron, and selenium
    • Can help with iron deficiency

    Pure Maple Syrup

    • Contains minerals and nutrients such as manganese, zinc, iron, calcium, and various antioxidants
    • Helps with brain and bone health
    • Prevents heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis


    • Excellent source of dietary fiber - promotes colon health
    • Great source of copper, iron, calcium, and magnesium
    • Protects from damaging free radicals that can lead to certain cancers such as lung, prostate, colon, breast, pancreatic, etc.

    Stevia (Extracts from South American Plant)

    • Has shown to be antimicrobial, anti-diarrheal, anti-tumor, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory
    • Can help with insulin resistance and high blood pressure
    • If you are worried about calories, stevia is zero/very low in calories
    • Can increase cellular insulin sensitivity and reverse insulin resistance
    • Can help maintain normal sugar and insulin levels in diabetics and nondiabetics

    So if you do need a bit of sugar to sweeten up your life, we have a lot of options for you!  Feel free to explore our Sugar & Sweetener page on our main menu.

    Here’s some products for you to try:

    My Cup of Tea Organic Maple Syrup
    Sabatino Tartufi - Truffle Honey
    Kanté Wild Sunflower Blossom Honey
    Ogilvy's Raw British Wild Woodland Honey
    Organic Medjool Dates - 350G | 1KG | 5KG
    Biona Organic Date Syrup


    Other Types of Natural Sweeteners Include:
    Spiral Foods Organic Blackstrap Molasses
    Organic Coconut Palm Syrup (Nectar)
    Clearspring - Organic Barley Malt Syrup

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