Recent years have witnessed the proliferation of different kinds of sweeteners. From natural to artificial, it seems that Science and commerce have made it a point to fill up a need that sucrose or the common table sugar is slowly creating.
Although sucrose is not necessarily dangerous, too much consumption has become a problem for most people. It can lead to various health problems such as hypertension, heart problems and obesity if not controlled. But who can blame people from wanting to eat sweet things as much as they can?
This is why companies have tried to create alternative sweeteners that will have the same taste but have less calories or low caloric content. Most of the sweeteners in the market, in fact, are 200 to 500 times sweeter than ordinary table sugar but contains less carbohydrate.
Before penetrating the market, all of these sweeteners are evaluated and approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Despite this, there have been a lot of questions as to the safety of these sugar substitutes. There are even some that have been pulled out of the market after being approved for selling.
Two of the safest sugar substitute in the market are saccharin and stevia. Saccharin has actually been in the market since the 1970s. It is extracted from a plant in China. It was commercially distributed in packets as alternatives to sugar for beverages especially coffee. Because it is many times sweeter than ordinary table sugar, you will need a little bit more to equal the strength or effect sucrose.
Although it had already been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration years back, there was a time when it was put on the list of cancerous ingredients. The decision was based in a study that found a link between saccharin and cancer in rats.
It seems that a laboratory study on rats found that saccharin can actually cause bladder cancer. Manufacturers of products that use saccharin as ingredients were even asked to out disclaimers in their labels about the potential danger of the ingredient.
Still, after much study and debate, nothing conclusive has ever been found. It was only recently when the inclusion of saccharin in the list was repealed. Experts argue that though it has caused bladder cancer in rats, this does not mean that it can also cause cancer in humans.
Stevia, like saccharin, also comes from a plant, this time from Paraguay and Brazil. It is 200 300 times sweeter than table sugar. This is why only a small amount of stevia is enough to reach the sweetness level of sucrose. Still, one great disadvantage for this sugar substitute is the fact that it has a bitter aftertaste that turns off most consumers.