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Americans are consuming insane amounts of fake-natural sweeteners. In fact, Americans eat close to 130 pounds of the stuff per person per year (4 times more than the recommended daily allowance), likely because it is so addictive. Studies show that aspartame, the most widely used artificial sweetener of all-time, often contributes to weight gain and has been conclusively linked to many very serious adverse health reactions. Aspartame is also known as Equal, NutraSweet, and AminoSweet. Do you know someone still eating this crap? My bestie loves her "pinks", and it seriously kills me to see her use it!
The approval of aspartame was one of the most contested in FDA history. The FDA's own toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross told Congress that aspartame can cause brain tumors and brain cancer, and that it violated Federal law (the Delaney Amendment), which forbids putting anything in food that is known to cause cancer. Umm...hello!! But in what is often the typical FDA protocol, the "Golden Rule" takes precedence - the players with the most gold make the rules. Aspartame's golden manufacturer, pharmaceutical giant G.D. Searle, came out the winner and the artificial sweetener was approved. Crazy, right!
Side effects from aspartame can occur as acute serious reactions or can occur gradually. When they occur gradually over many years, it can be very difficult to pinpoint the cause. Over 90 serious side-effects have been documented.
Sucralose (commonly sold as Splenda), was formulated in 1976 when a group of UK scientists were actually trying to create a new pesticide. Yes, PESTICIDE! The final product resembles a pesticide chemical structure, more than it does sugar.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has been used as a sweetener (some say artificial, some say natural) has exploded int the past decade. Just because the main ingredient in HFCS started out in a corn field, doesn't mean it's natural or safe, by any means. The take-out box in my fridge is also derived from corn. - Hmmm...speaking of...Pesto pasta it is!- The process of turning corn into HFCS is chemical, not culinary.
Even though regular cane sugar should be used in moderation, it is still a far healthier option than chemical sweeteners or HFCS. Ha...in comparison to that crap, white sugar should be considered a health food!
There are options though. The South American herb called stevia has been used safely by indigenous people for many centuries. It tastes sweet and has zero-calories. But be careful for toxic stevia. Truvia, Stevia in the Raw, Pure Via, and even some organic stevia brands have some crappy ingredients. Look out for Agave inulin, silica (the stuff in those little gel packs that says "Don't Eat"), natural flavors, and dextrose. If you choose stevia, make sure it is 100% pure without added ingredients.
And when all else fails, choose a suitable alternative and forget stevia altogether. Use honey, pure maple syrup, or I personally prefer coconut palm sugar, since it is one of the most natural unprocessed forms of sugar available. It is naturally high in amino acids – has 10,000 times more potassium, 20 times more magnesium and 20 times more iron than conventional sugar.
What is your favorite natural sweetener? Know someone that may be unknowingly consuming this stuff? Share the knowledge.