Reduce Three Risks with One Sweetener Switch

Medically reviewed in January 2022

Choosing the right sweetener could help control your blood fats, your risk of gout, and your pants size.

The swap you should make? Kick fructose-sweetened prepackaged beverages and foods out of your diet. And when you need a little something sweet, try a smidge of stevia in your bowl or glass instead.

Fructose: The Full Story
Most sodas—as well as bunches of other prepackaged foods -- are sweetened with a form of fructose called high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It's so ubiquitous in prepackaged foods that roughly 10 to 12 percent of people's daily calories come from this added fructose. But, unfortunately, a growing body of research is showing a relationship between excess fructose in the diet and a host of health ills, from gout and high triglycerides to increased appetite and weight gain.

Something Sweeter
So the next time you crave a sweetened ice tea or the like, see if a little stevia might fit the bill instead. Or you could try a touch of agave nectar. Stevia is made from the stevia plant, and agave is made from cactus. Both have a calorie count that is similar to sugar, but because they are loads sweeter, you need only a fraction. Like any no- or low-calorie sweetener, stevia and agave aren't perfect. But consuming them instead of fructose is a step in the right direction.

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