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Top 3: the best and worst sweeteners

As sweets are so desired by (almost) everyone, the success of sweeteners has been inevitable over the years.

The problem is that these days there is so much variety that it’s hard to know what’s best.

Research manages to show the benefits and harms of almost everyone, so decisions must be made based on certain clues.

See our top 3 of the best and worst sweeteners, but keep in mind that sweeteners should all be used in moderation and that whenever possible find alternatives that are as natural as possible: for example, a smoothie/porridge can be sweetened with a cooked fruit .

Natural and artificial sweeteners

Natural sweeteners are extracted from natural sources, such as plants, they may have more or less sweetening power than sugar and are usually less caloric.

Artificial sweeteners are produced through specific industrial processes, most of them have a much greater sweetening power than sugar and no or almost no calories.


– Stevia

Stevia is a plant from the sunflower family, from whose leaves molecules are extracted that are sweet and practically do not raise blood sugar as absorption is almost zero.

They are about 300 times sweeter than regular sugar (sucrose), can be heated and enhance the flavor of food. For now, studies show that it is harmless.

– Polyalcohols (sorbitol, xylitol,…)

They are less sweet than ordinary sugar (sucrose) and have fewer calories.

They occur in fruits and vegetables and most are easily recognized by the suffix “-ol”: xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol,… Widely used in sugar-free chewing gum, they are not even more used by the industry because of their cost and because some of these polyalcohols give off a strange taste when heated.

Xylitol is what might work best to have around the house.

Its excess can cause diarrhea so you will easily notice if you consume too much. Some studies prove that they can decrease the risk of cavities.

– Honey

Honey is composed of fructose and glucose (like conventional sugar) but it also has other sugars and when you choose honey as natural as possible, you will not only be sweetening it, but also having access to some enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Blood sugar will rise a little slower than sugar because of the higher fructose content.

Anyway it is a natural alternative to use in moderation. Some porridge with a little honey is delicious!


– Aspartame or E951

It is one of the sweeteners most used by the food industry: sweeteners for coffee, yoghurts, drinks, biscuits, … it’s everywhere and even if you read the label, you don’t know how much you’re ingesting because the amount isn’t discriminated.

Its consumption may cause or worsen: headaches and migraines, depression, severe mood swings, memory loss, dizziness and balance changes.

Aggressive behavior, disorientation, hyperactivity, excitability, changes in vision, panic attacks, seizures, changes in sleep and insomnia, and even increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

Yes, we can say that if you eat little you may not have any problems, but if you don’t know how much you’re eating and there are other alternatives, use the alternatives.

– Sucralose or E955

Artificial sweetener, very stable, 600 times sweeter than sugar and no calories.

According to the FDA, it is safe when you do not exceed the established dose (5mg/kg), but once again you will never know what dose you are taking because the products do not discriminate.

If you use sucralose directly in your kitchen, you will know how much to use.

Since it is not absorbed, its presence in the intestine can alter the intestinal flora and pH, leading to the appearance of gastrointestinal problems with continued use.

– Agave/fructose

Isolated fructose is increasingly available as a substitute for conventional sugar (fructose + glucose).

It could be a good alternative if used sporadically and in small amounts, due to its lower glycemic index (sugar rises more slowly in the blood).

But its consumption in large quantities can alter not only the metabolism of sugars but also the metabolism of fats, being responsible for an increase in cholesterol and triglycerides.

In the United States it is used indiscriminately as if it were a miracle solution to conventional sugar, and it is not.

Therefore, pay attention to products such as “sugar-free jams” where fructose is added and do not abuse the direct use of fructose in desserts.

Agave is a natural sweetener that is beginning to be common on the market but it is made up of 70-97% fructose and therefore we fit in the same group.

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