The scoop on just how addictive, detrimental, and sneaky sugar can beBy: Jessica Girdwain
Once upon a time, sugar alternatives (what are these?) were heralded as the slim solution. But according to research presented at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in 2011, products that contain these sweeteners can be linked to an expanding waist size. One possible reason, says researcher Sharon Fowler, M.P.H.: These pseudo sugars trick your body into some of the same responses the real thing produces. But some sweeteners are better than others. See how five popular subs stack up. (Video: The Worst Sweet Drinks)
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This powdered extract of the stevia plant is all natural and 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. (Brands include Stevia Extract In the Raw and PureVia.) Consult your doctor before using it if you have any kind of health condition since it hasn't been studied extensively. (Bonus: Discover how to eat more and weigh less when you subscribe to Women’s Health today!)
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In the 1970s, animal studies prompted the National Toxicology Program to name it a likely carcinogen, but no such link was ever found in human studies, so saccharin was eventually declared safe. Try to use no more than four packets a day, though. Your body can't digest it, so too much can lead to stomach issues. (Bonus: Fire up your weight loss with a free 2-day cleanse)
Healthy Ways to Curb Your Appetite
Zero calories and 600 times sweeter than sugar, sucralose is considered by many nutritionists to be among the safest of the subs. It is derived from real sugar, not from chemical additives, and has been heavily studied, says Kirkpatrick. (Learn more: The 6 Scary Side Effects of Sugar)
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About 200 times sweeter than sugar, aspartame (used in packaged foods and sold under the brands NutraSweet and Equal) was once thought to be linked to cancer, but the FDA maintains it's not a health risk.
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This naturally sweet plant syrup can be up to 90 percent fructose—more than HFCS—and has 20 calories per teaspoon. But it's 25 percent sweeter than sugar, so you might not use as much, and it blends well in liquids like coffee.
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