One of the first things you tend to do when you want to lose weight is to keep a tab on your diet. At the top of this list is cutting down on sugar, one of the main culprits that leads to weight gain, diabetes, heart diseases, stroke and other diseases. Many advertisements will have you believe that using sugar substitutes will help you sweeten your food without the calories of sugar and hence will help you lose weight.

Are sugar substitutes better for health?

Recently, Health Canada, the national public health division of the Government of Canada came up with  a set of new dietary guidelines which said that ‘sugar substitutes do not need to be consumed to reduce the intake of free sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages and sugars naturally present in honey, fruit juices, syrups and concentrates).’

According to the new guidelines, foods and beverages (such as some fat-free yoghurts and diet soft drinks) that are sweetened with sugar substitutes such as aspartame, saccharin, sugar alcohols and purified stevia extract, instead of free sugars, have ‘no well-established health benefits.’  Not just this, it also suggests that instead of these one must have nutritious foods and beverages that are unsweetened including water, unsweetened milk or fortified soy beverage. For healthy natural sugar and nutrients, the guidelines suggest the consumption of whole fruits or vegetables.

Soft drinks, packed fruit juices, energy drinks, and other sweetened beverages, chocolates, candies and other products are not just devoid of nutrition, they are high in free sugars. It has been well-established that these sugars can lead to a variety of diseases including type 2 diabetes, obesity, dental decay among others.

It is clear from these guidelines and from other research studies that it best to steer clear of sugar-laden products and sugar substitutes for good health.