Vanderbilt doctor explains real versus fake sugars

Vanderbilt doctor explains real versus fake sugars (Image 1)

Natural sugar versus artificial sweetener: which is better, and are they safe?

Both taste sweet, however, real sugar has calorie content while fake sugars are usually calorie free.

Dr. Lindy Fenlason, a pediatrician at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said that sugar provides us with energy.

“And that allows us to go through our day and have some calories that are going to fuel our body,” she explained.

She said natural sugars like fructose can be found in fruits and other foods, while fake sugars are non-nutritive and sold in the form of Splenda or Sweet and Low.

There are only five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners on the market.

“One of them that's new on the forefront is something called Truvia, from the stevia plant, and that one is touted as being much more natural,” Dr. Fenlason explained.

She continued, “It has more of a granular consistency to it, too. It almost looks and tastes more like sugar.”

Dr. Fenlason said that Splenda is more of a middle ground between the real and fake, while Sweet and Low is made with aspartame, one of the older fake sugars.

Sugar substitutes vary in strength and sweetness. Some taste six to 800 times sweeter than sugar, and some are more expensive, but are they safe for our diet?

“The American Dietetic Association put out a position paper back in 2004 saying that in moderation, these sugar substitutes are safe. So they will continue to do research on them, especially as new products enter the market, just to make sure they are safe,” Dr. Fenlason said.

For now, the fake sugars on the market used in place of real sugar are safe in moderation; however, as more substitutes are created, it's important to keep up with current studies.

Scientists admit they still don't have all the answers.

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