Which artificial sweetener is the best?

Chad Kramer
Chad Kramer on behalf of dotFIT
There are a number of artificial sweeteners to choose from. It is difficult to determine which is the best, since they are all considered safe for the general population, when used at moderate levels. 

Below are a number of the most popular artificial sweeteners as well as their brand names and information on the safety of each:
  • Sucralose (Splenda) is 600X sweeter than sugar. Of all the artificial sweeteners, it has caused the least controversy. The FDA concluded (with > than 110 studies supporting it) that it was found to have no toxic or carcinogenic effects and to poses no reproductive or neurologic risk to humans.
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet/Equal) is 180-200X sweeter than sugar. It has become the most heavily scrutinized of the artificial sweeteners. The FDA has evaluated its use in food and beverages 26 times since it was first approved in 1981. In 1996, the FDA approved its use as a general-purpose sweetener in foods and beverages. In 1985, the AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs concluded that ''available evidence suggests that consumption of aspartame by normal humans is safe and is not associated with serious adverse health effects.'' A recent review by the ADA concluded that it is completely safe. Use of aspartame within the FDA guidelines appears safe for pregnant women.
  • Saccharin (Sweet 'N Low) is 300X sweeter than sugar. After bladder cancer was found in male lab rats that were fed huge amounts of it, the FDA proposed a ban on it in 1977. This ban was never enacted and the warning label on it was dropped in 2000.
  • Acesulfame-K (Sunette/Sweet One) is 200X sweeter than sugar. It doesn't increase the risk of cancer, according to government agencies and its use appears safe for pregnant women, within FDA guidelines.
  • Stevia (stevioside) is and herb that is 250-300X sweeter than sugar. It has been used in South America for centuries and has been used in Japan for the past 30 years, as well. Due to it being sold as a dietary supplement, It has not gone through the FDA approval process for use as an artificial sweetener in the U.S.
  • Sorbitol/Mannitol are sugar alcohols that are found in nature (in plant foods such as fruits and berries). It has received the ''Generally Recognized As Safe'' (GRAS) designation from the FDA.
As stated earlier, don’t overdo it with artificial sweeteners; use them for what they were meant for…a tool to make eating a healthier diet and losing weight easier.

Continue Learning about Artificial Sweeteners

How Artificial Sweeteners Fake Out Your Body
How Artificial Sweeteners Fake Out Your Body
In American football, there’s a “fake” happening on almost every play. Whether it’s a head fake, a running fake, or a passing fake, the idea is to tri...
Read More
What is the controversy around aspartame?
Jacob TeitelbaumJacob Teitelbaum
It’s surprising that aspartame ever received FDA approval for use. Although it is likely okay in...
More Answers
Do benefits of sweeteners outweigh their negative health effects?
Michael T. Murray, NDMichael T. Murray, ND
The three primary artificial sweeteners currently in use are saccharin (Sweet'N Low), aspartame (Equ...
More Answers
How Can Artificial Sweeteners Affect Weight Gain?
How Can Artificial Sweeteners Affect Weight Gain?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.