Alternative Sweeteners Part 2 - Artificial Sweeteners

G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN

Focuses on calorie free synthetic sweeteners, like Part 1 it too includes a Table.

Last month we reviewed reduced-calorie sweeteners, sugar alcohols. This month's focus is on those sweetening agents that are totally or virtually calorie-free. Because the obesity epidemic continues to rise, sweeteners that are highly processed, completely artificial, or synthetic derivatives of natural substances will be consumed worldwide at an increasing rate.

Alternative Sweeteners

(Brand Name)
(Relative to Sugar)
Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet 1)
Approved in 90 countries including the US
Synthetic chemical the body is unable to metabolize
Most studies indicated safety. A few animal studies showed an increased rate of cancer.
Australia, New Zealand, China, and Mexico
Synthetic derivative of L-aspartic acid and D-alanine
Petition for approval in US is pending. 1.4 calories per gram, so sweet only need mg amounts.
(Equal and Nutrisweet)
180 - 200
Approved in over 100 countries including the US
Derivatives of free form amino acids and phenylalanine
Cancer and neurologic disease charges are not supported epide-miologically. Some users report headaches and/or mood and mental changes. FDA recommends no more than 50 mg/kg/bw/day.
Approved in over 50 countries, banned in the US
Synthetic chemicalSalt of cyclamic acid
Banned in 1970 due to animal studies showing it caused cancer. Petition to be reapproved in the US is pending.
Dihydrochalcones (Neo-DHC)
300 - 1500
Approved in Europe
Synthetic derivatives of citrus bioflavonoid
A group of compounds approved in US for flavoring but not to sweeten1
Approved in the US, Australia, and New Zealand
Derivative of a dipeptide consisting of phenylalanine and aspartic acid
Opponents state it is more toxic than Aspartame and do not trust the studies or the FDA who state it safe for human consumption.
(Sweet N Low)
300 - 500
Approved in over 100 nations including the US
Synthetic chemical derived from coal tar
Almost banned in the US in 1977 based on increased cancer rates in animal studies. Numerous epidemiological studies have not shown higher cancer rates until a recent Natural Cancer Institute study; in which heavy users (6+ servings a day) had a slightly increased rate of bladder cancer.
250 - 300
Approved in 10 nations including Japan and much of South America. Not approved in the US2
A leaf extract from a shrub native to South America in the chrysanthemum family
Stevioside, the main active ingredient, is not approved as a food additive or sweetener in the US. Small amounts have been safely used for many years in Japan. Large amounts cause energy and reproductive problems in animal studies.
Sucralose (Splenda)3
Approved in over 40 countries including all of North America
Sucrose bound with 3 chlorine atoms in place of 3 hydroxyl groups
The chlorine prevents metabolism or digestion. FDA states safe for all groups including pregnant and nursing women, and children. Opponents contend long term human studies do not exist
Copyright 2004 G Douglas Andersen, DC 916 E Imperial Hwy., Brea, CA 92821

1 The amount used as a sweetener is much more than what is allowed for flavoring.
2 In the US, Stevia is approved as a dietary supplement and can be purchased in bulk.
3 Not pure sucralose. Small amounts of maltodextrin and dextrose are added.



Nutritional conservatives and liberals are in general agreement that artificial sweeteners are not "good for you." The argument heats up when discussing how bad or how harmful these products may be. Occasional use of small amounts is not problematic for most people. Where we run into trouble is our definition of "small amounts."

A case in point is the debate involving sucralose and stevia. Stevia, in small amounts, has been safely used in Japan with no apparent ill effects for many yearsHowever, in animal studies using larger amounts, issues discussed in the chart such as energy suppression and reproductive problems have occurred at a level where the FDA does not yet feel this is a safe product for purposes of sweetening. Conversely, sucralose seemingly appears quite safe in a number of studies and is FDA approved. However, opponents question the neutrality of the data and state none of the 100 plus studies cited by proponents are long-term on humans. What is implied and unsaid is that both sides in the sweetener debate are worried about how many people consciously or unconsciously are incapable of moderation. (Conscious – they add it to everything. Unconscious – industry adds it to everything)

The biggest problem I see with both artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols (discussed last month) is not their side effects from overconsumption, but how they affect our food choices. For those on low-carbohydrate diets, as the food industry increases the use of these products, (individually and most commonly, in combinations) people will be able to eat more calories before they reach their carbohydrate limit. And although having your cake (or should I say bacon) and eating it too is a common theme among best selling diet book authors, weights loss without sacrifice is almost impossible. (Sacrifice = fewer calories in and/or more calories out)




3. Ensminger, A.H., Konlande, J.E., Robson, J.R.K. Encyclopedia of Foods and Nutrition. Boca Raton, FL: CRS Press. 1995.

4. Rowett, C.A., Smithsonian Revisits Remsen-Fahlberg Debate. In The Gazette. John Hopkins University. 23; 40, 1994.







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Copyright 2004, G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN, 916 E. Imperial Hwy, Brea, CA 92821, (714) 990-0824