The synthetic sweetener, aspartame, may well be the world’s most controversial food additive.
Here is a listing of some of the most common problems attributed to it: “Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems. Possible neurophysiological symptoms include learning problems, headache, seizure, migraines, irritable moods, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.” [Nutrtional Neuroscience, June 2018]
Aspartame goes under names such as Equal, NutraSweet, and SugarTwin and is found in countless low-calorie foods and in table-top packets. But consumers looking to reduce their sugar intake have a growing number of safer options, in addition to stevia.
Monk fruit is becoming easier to find, both in supermarkets and online. Once it is processed monk fruit looks like sugar and is a pleasant tasting alternative. Since pure monk fruit is very expensive, it is generally combined with another sweetener such as erythritol, a “sugar alcohol” which is well tolerated and the blend is a good option for diabetics. . [Boesten, et al. “Health effects of erythritol”. Nutrafoods 2015]
A newly developed sugar alcohol is called “allulose.” While only a limited number of studies have been done on allulose, it appears to be well tolerated. What’s more, it offers health benefits, including weight control, which is done by increasing energy metabolism.
The sugar alcohols sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol have been used for many years and while a small amount is unlikely to cause problems, too much can lead to gastrointestinal problems. (Prune juice gets its laxative quality from naturally occurring sorbitol.) Happily, erythritol and allulose appear to be better tolerated, although it’s best not to overdo them.