Which sweeteners to use and which avoid?
Aspartame may be linked to headaches in those predisposed to migraines, lower mood in those predisposed to depression and increased brain activity in children with epilepsy. Those with the rare metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot metabolise an amino acid in aspartame. You should avoid aspartame if you belong to any of these groups.
Baking with sucralose is probably a bad idea, as the sucralose can react at high temperatures creating potentially carcinogenic compounds called chloropropanols. Sucralose may also alter the gut microbiome.
Saccharin may alter the gut microbiome.
Stevia has been found to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension and lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Stevia may alter the gut microbiome.
Erythritol has been linked to improved blood vessel health, but can cause gas and diarrhoea in large doses.
Xylitol has been linked to improved tooth health and reduced dental decay. It can cause gas and diarrhoea in large doses. It is also toxic to dogs.
Consistently eating large amounts of nutrient void, processed foods whether sweetened with sugar, artificial or natural sweeteners is probably not a good idea if it is creating persistent cravings or displacing healthy foods out of your diet. If you are avoiding nutrient dense foods regularly in favour of these nutrient void processed options, you should consider making some changes. Drink less sugar or sweetened beverages by choosing water or whole fruit smoothies, and reduce the amount of weight watchers/ diet snacks you eat by including more naturally occurring sweetness in fruit and yoghurt etc. Sweeteners, like sugar, and like anything in our diet, can have a detrimental effect if eaten to excess and if you develop an unhealthy habit around it. Sweetened food can be included in a diet as a sometimes food or drink ideally with the focus predominantly on nutritious, whole foods.
You are unlikely to reach the toxic consumption level for any of the sweeteners, however some sweeteners may have health concerns for particular individuals. Natural sweeteners seem to have less reported side effects. However, it is not a good idea to displace healthy, nutritious foods from your diet in favour of processed foods, whether it’s ‘diet’ or full sugar options.