Information is constantly changing as new knowledge is gained and more research becomes available and many new products continue to hit the market over time. For this reason, I do not wish to go into super specific details about all the individual sugar substitutes. I wish instead to impart basic information that will enable you to decide for yourself what is best for you.
Granulated sucralose is currently the only “zero calorie” sugar substitute approved as safe for all cooking, canning, and baking.
There are some “low cal” substitutes some of which are approved safe –for various maximum cooking temperatures — and some are not approved and are not all are safe for cooking — so do your research and choose wisely.
Substitutes approved for use in the U.S.A. are generally considered safe when consumed within certain recommended maximum quantities. They do not all work well, however, for cooking and baking.
Other countries allow the use of certain substitutes which are not currently approved for use in the U.S.A. because they do not meet U.S. standards or too little evidence exists. In cases where claims are made that it does exist, that evidence was not made appropriately available, was false, or did not hold up fully to U.S. standards.
Many substitutes, even though approved, can cause gastrointestinal issues or other side effects so not everyone can tolerate various substitutes.
Granulated sucralose is currently listed as the least likely to cause such issues.
For my family, we had issues with most substitutes until sucralose came on the market. Since it became available, data from accepted research has shown repeatedly that it is safe and we personally found it to have the least after taste, that it caused us no ill side effects, it worked best in recipes, etc. So that is the substitute we chose for ourselves.
You, however, must decide for yourself what works best for you.
Some may be considered safe for human consumption but are highly poisonous to pets and other animals. Does this mean we shouldn’t eat it either? No, it doesn’t.
For example, humans have safely eaten chocolate for centuries, but it contains a substance called theobromine which — while perfectly safe for us humans — is toxic to dogs. Unlike humans, their liver is simply unable to filter it very quickly so it builds up and acts like a deadly poison.
Yet, you hear people tell of feeding their dogs chocolate on purpose and claiming no ill side effects befell their animal. Does this mean you should feed it to your own dog too or simply not worry at all when they have gotten into your stash of chocolates? Of course not! It is dependent upon how much, how often, for how long, and the size of the animal as to when and how severe the detrimental effect.
Xylitol (also a common sugar substitute and flavor enhancer found in gum, candy, cough drops, many prepackaged foods and mixes, etc.) for example, is very highly toxic and poisonous to dogs just as some sugar substitutes produce bladder cancer in rats, and so on. It has been deemed safe, however, for human consumption.
Humans with certain medical conditions, such as PKU, should not use sugar substitutes. It is generally recommended that a doctor be consulted to discuss what substitutes are safe for use with certain health conditions, age groups, during pregnancy, etc.
Saccharine is not currently recommended for pregnant women due to slow fetal clearance.
That said, current knowledge and recommendations continuously change over time as more and more research becomes available and as new products become available.
Also, there are many contradictory statements and fear mongering taking place. Not every study is a “good” study. No single study is 100 percent infallible. It takes many well designed studies to make the most reliable determination.
To make the best possible informed decision, you need to know how to recognize the difference between a good study and a bad study.
For more about that:
As of this posting, the following link shows a decent, understandable summary of the most up to date information based upon accepted current research regarding the various sugar substitutes — those approved for use in the U.S. in particular:
Learning How Best to Control Your Diabetes
Diabetes varies and no two people are exactly identical so it is important to to consult with your doctor, endocrinologist, and diabetic education specialist to tailor your activity, medications, and diet to meet your specific needs to control it — as well as discuss what is important to you, your values, your goals, what you believe (foods included) make life worthwhile, enjoyable, and what you feel you can or absolutely cannot live without.
It isn’t sufficient to simply be told by the doctor to watch your sugar intake and get more exercise. Demand much more specific information and ask for a referral to a diabetic educator.
If still having diabetic control issues, in spite of following orders and recommendations, request an endocrinologist referral.
Be open and honest and admit if you are not following an order and especially be prepared to discuss why you are not doing so with them.
This is the only way that they can better understand your situation and help you find more acceptable solutions, alternatives, and options to any existing barriers.
Contrary to popular belief diabetes rarely means completely stopping all sugar intake, but it must be taken in moderation or limited.
In general, starting recommendations are to keep sugar intake to less than 5 percent of your total daily caloric intake if diabetic — but that will often vary up or down from person to person. It also means eating less simple sugars and carbohydrates and going instead for the more complex ones.
Having a doctor’s referral to a licensed diabetic educator (and even attending the classes they offer) is the absolute best way to gain the knowledge and understanding needed and to learn how to best control your diabetes.
It can be mind blowing and over whelming, even down right depressing, but a licensed diabetic educator can really simply things for you, put your mind at ease, and empower you to take charge of controlling your diabetes with confidence.
Without one it can take years or even decades to learn (if ever) — but with one most find they have mastered the basics within just a few short weeks to being fully capable and confident within as little as 3 to 4 months.
When my late husband was diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, along with other health issues and at a young age, he was told he would not likely live to even see our then only 15 month old infant son enter junior high school.
He struggled for about three or four years with control over his blood sugars even though working closely with his doctor. He’d tell them proudly that he had me for learning whatever he needed, yet rarely listened to what I had to say preferring to maintain a very strict husband and wife only type of relationship — shutting me down whenever I tried to get professional with him. On one hand he trusted me completely and was proud of my professional accomplishments, but on the other hand what he really just wanted and needed most from me was just to be there for him as a loving, supportive wife — not giving him professional advice.
Eventually, more than a little concerned about the way things were going, I finally had an opportunity present itself and was able to inform the doctor of this — so he was finally given a referral and strongly encouraged by the doctor to see a licensed diabetic educator.
He very rarely had any issues after that and he lived happily — as well as lived long enough to actually grow old — and he got to see our son grow up to become a fine, grown, young man in his fourth year of college and just a few short months away from graduating — even though our son took a long break after high school before starting college. He actually outlived a great many of his peers and close friends.
The diabetic educator and attending just three or four classes gave him the knowledge and tools he needed to take better control over his diabetes — thus live a longer and happier life. If not for other health issues that he had even before being diagnosed with diabetes, he might even have still been here with us today.