Loading up on artificial sweeteners is not the healthiest way to reduce calories. While research is ongoing, some studies show that due to their intensely sweet flavor, these additives can change the way you taste food. Over time this could influence the ability of fruits to satisfy sweet cravings and make other healthy foods taste less appealing. If you want to reduce your intake, read ingredient labels closely, and beware of foods that contain hidden artificial sweeteners.
Types of Artificial Sweeteners
The first step to identifying artificial sweeteners is to know the many names that they go by. There are five approved for use in the U.S. Keep your eye out for acesulfame potassium (K), aspartame, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose.
Where to Look for Artificial Sweeteners
As these sweeteners became more popular, they were added to a variety of foods. Even foods that are not labeled “diet” or “sugar free” may contain artificial sweeteners. Though many consumers seek to reduce intake, they still remain in some unexpected places.
Chewing gum. While a “sugar-free” label often indicates that a product contains an artificial sweetener, it is easy to overlook with all of the sweet, fruit flavors available. If you often use gum to curb your appetite, but also want to reduce sweeteners, chewing sugar-free gum may not be the best option.
No-calorie waters. There are many sparkling and non-sparkling waters that are calorie free with natural fruit flavors, but read labels closely. Many use artificial sweeteners similar to diet sodas to sweeten the drink without adding calories.
Salad dressings. It’s easy to check the ingredient lists on salad dressing bottles at the supermarket, but when you order a salad at a restaurant, the ingredients are less clear. Some dressings contain artificial sweeteners, even if they don’t taste overly sweet. Ask about ingredients when dining out or look them up online before you go.
Fruit juice. When drinking juice, choose 100 percent fruit juice without added sugar. It’s tempting to try to save calories with “light” versions of juices, but many contain artificial sweeteners. Try mixing half a serving of juice with sparkling water for a refreshing, lower calorie spritzer.
Frozen yogurt. Many frozen yogurts and ice cream bars contain artificial sweeteners so take a close look at food labels. When you swing into a shop for a treat, keep an eye out for no-sugar-added varieties, which often means that artificial sweeteners have been added.