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Artificial Sweeteners Linked To Diabetes And Obesity: What Are The Healthier Alternatives?

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A study on mice suggested that non-caloric artificial sweeteners change how the body processes fats, which could then lead to diabetes and obesity.

Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University tested their hypothesis by feeding rats with high-glucose and high-fructose diets present in artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium.

After three weeks, the researchers took blood samples from the rodents to measure the differences in the levels of fats, amino acids, and biochemicals.

They found that zero-calorie sweeteners alter the way the body breaks down fat and the way it stores energy. The buildup of acesulfame potassium is found to potentially harm the blood vessels.

Lead author Dr. Brian Hoffman said it is important to understand that artificial sweeteners are not created the same.

"They have different chemical make-ups and thus mechanisms of action so it will be important not to generalize all in one category but to study them individually more thoroughly to gain a better understanding of how each influence overall health," Hoffman told Newsweek.

Healthier Alternatives To Sweeteners

Dietitians at the Cleveland Clinic agree that regardless of its contents, artificial sweeteners do not offer health benefits because of its addictive properties. Aside from obesity and diabetes, people who regularly consume artificial sweeteners are at risk for heart diseases and fatty liver.

Artificial sweeteners are preferable than table sugar for patients diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes. However, doctors advised using artificial sweeteners in moderation.

"The worst of the worst is aspartame, which caused cancer in three independent animal studies," said registered dietitian Brigid Titgemeier.

Refined sugar or table sugar has inflammatory properties and contains no nutritional benefits. Flavored drinks usually have about 40 grams of sugar per serving, while granola bars and yogurt have at least 12 grams, according to Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD.

Natural sweeteners such as raw honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar contain more nutrients than table sugar. These sweeteners are still high in calories, so experts advised to consume no more than 2 teaspoons a day.

Aside from its antioxidant properties, raw honey is also rich in vitamins E, C, and minerals. Agave nectar is also a good substitute for diabetic patients because it gives more flavor even with lesser amounts.

The best sweeteners of all, according to health experts, are fruits. Fruits can be added to oatmeal, can be made into smoothies, or eaten as it is. It is naturally sweet and has good calories.

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