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What's Your Favorite Artificial Sweetener?

With the FDA's recent approval of a stevia-derived sweetener called rebaudioside A, marketed as Truvia (and the less-prominent PureVia), consumers now have six mainstream choices for low- or non-caloric substances to add to their coffee or sprinkle on their cereal (or, with the stevia-based products and saccharine and sucralose, to use in baking a batch of cookies.) Truvia, the home-use version of which comes in green packets, in keeping with the sweetener's billing as a "natural" product, takes its place alongside aspartame, sucralose and saccharine and the less-common acesulfame-K and neotame.

But as I write in today's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column, some questions linger as to whether artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners are all that good for you. Keeping a close eye on the field and the science behind these products is the food-industry watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI maintains that sucralose (sold under the brand name Splenda) is safe but has doubts about the others. As the group notes on its roundup of research on all kinds of food additives, including sweeteners, studies of aspartame's, saccharine's, acesulfame-K's and stevia's safety haven't been thorough enough to be entirely convincing.

Anecdotal incidents and Internet scares have led some to worry that artificial sweeteners, in particular aspartame (sold as NutraSweet and Equal), cause cancer and neurological problems; CSPI argues that research hasn't entirely ruled out those fears. The FDA, however, which regulates artificial sweeteners as food additives (which means the federal agency relies on manufacturers to demonstrate their products' safety), says all six are safe for people to use.

In next week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy," I'll be writing about our national sweet tooth and what we can do to decrease our dependence on sweet-tasting foods and drinks. In the meantime, please tell me: What's your non-fattening sweetener of choice? (I've only included the major brands here; if you favor another, vote "other" and explain in the comments section.)

The best no-cal/low-cal sweetener is:

Defend your choice in the comments section. I'll report on the results next Tuesday.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  February 17, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Nutrition and Fitness  
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I selected Splenda because I've used it without any problems for so many years, but I'm very, very impressed with Truvia. It has a very sugar-like taste without any excess sweetness (better tasting than Splenda, in my book), and it pours and mises just like table sugar. I can see it eventually surpassing Splenda.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 17, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Do you know that Splenda is made by running sugar through chlorine? Why don't you give the REAL scoop on Splenda

Posted by: queenmom | February 17, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

In what appears to be a rare allergic reaction, Splenda sent my husband to the emergency room with anaphalactic shock. As a diabetic, the advice I am now getting from my diet advisors is to use the Stevia products as they are considered to be the safest. Better yet, we all need to train our taste buds to appreciate tastes that don't require sweetness.

Posted by: jthompson4 | February 17, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I voted other because there is no safe sugar alternative. If there is, why would doctors ask women to stop drinking diet drinks as soon as they are pregnant. The safest way is to learn to drink things unsweetened or with just a hint of sugar. I do not think it is the sugar, but rather the high corn fructose that is used in sodas. Very few if any sodas sold in the United States are made with pure sugar any more due to the cost. The rest of the world use sugar and do not have the obesity problem in the proportion to the United States. Keep it natural and not use any chemicals or derivatives of the original.

Posted by: mathumom | February 17, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I have used Sweet'n Low for about 50 years and am quite used to its taste. I find that other artificial sweeteners don't satisfy my level of sweetness, especially Splenda, which requires me to use twice as much to equal Sweet 'n Low. I don't like the taste of other sweeteners, especially those used in diet soft drinks: they leave an aftertaste and make me thirsty. Yet my children love Splenda.

Posted by: rockingranny | February 17, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I think it's worth examining sugar alternatives that are completely natural and minimally processed -- maple syrup, agave nectar, and even dried fruit and fruit juice. These do pack some calories, but often have nutritional benefits as well. I wrote about some of these on my food blog, You Are Delicious, at

Posted by: RheaK | February 17, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I too was a Sweet and Low user until a boyfriend got me to switch to Splenda. Once I finally adjusted to the taste of Splenda, I discovered from my physician's tests, that it caused incontinence! I am only 30 years old! Now that I have switched back to Sweet and Low, the problem has ceased. I love Coke zero, and it is a shame that Splenda has these effects. I thought we had finally found a sugar alternative with a decent taste, but alas I am back to Sweet and Low, but still waiting for a better tasting alternative.

Posted by: acafoncelli | February 17, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Your review and choice did not have STEVIA Why? this is the best artificial sweetener as it is not made from any chemical.
I chose Other since Stevia was not listed.

Posted by: xyamaca2000yahoocom | February 17, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I have a severe allergy to Nutra Sweet/Equal. Also, my mom was taken off of all artificial sweetners by her Neurosurgeon who was aware of the possible effects it could have on her following her surgery.

I contacted the FDA after I had a VERY bad reaction to some chewing gum that has been on the market for years that contained sugar. Without warning after I became sick, I realized I bacame sick after chewing that particular gum that I had just purchased. Sure enough when I looked at the back label, the sugar had been replaced with "PHENYLALANINE" and Aspartame.

Non of the gums, mints, candies etc state on the front that it is sugar free, because eventhough it contains nutra sweet it also contains a minute amount of sugar.

But if you look on the back of the gum, candy and diet soda's you will see that the warning "PHENYLKETONURICS: contains PHENYLALANINE"; which there have been numerous warnings about as well as aspartame.

I think the FDA should enforce a regulation that if the product contains one or both of the ingredients, that the warning be placed on the front label and not the back.

Posted by: deneenharris | February 17, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with others who suggest reducing the flavor of sweets/sugar in our food and drink. I am training myself to drink my coffee black, except for that first cup in the morning, which gets a half-packet of Splenda.

I tried stevia years ago in iced tea and was sick for the entire weekend--never again.

I was also an Equal user for several years and would buy whichever one was on sale. I finally changed to Splenda for good when I realized that using Equal gave me more hot flashes than Splenda!

Posted by: SilverAnnie | February 17, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Truvia looked good until I saw that it contains natural flavors. Natural flavors are normally made from corn or soy and can contain free glutamates which is the business end of MSG (Aspartame is 40% aspartic acid which acts similar to free glutamate). So after you eat Truvia you may feel hungry again in 30 minutes and again at 105 minutes because the glutamate creates a spike in your insulin. "Effects of oral monosodium (L)-glutamate on insulin secretion and glucose tolerance in healthy volunteers." If glutamates are present, your hypothalamus which is outside of the blood brain barrier is also damaged and your metabolism is permanently slowed causing you to gain weight no matter how little you eat. releases/2008/08/080813164638.htm Sugar is 16 calories a spoonful. I'll take it.

Posted by: knowthescience | February 17, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I use Apriva Kroger carries it, though when eating out I use Splenda

Posted by: jackfidelis | February 17, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I checked other. Reason: there is a cheaper Kroger knockoff of Splenda called Apriva.

Posted by: kenklex | February 17, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

First of all, I would suggest any recommendations by the FDA be taken with a grain of salt, based on their current record. There is far too much evidence of the dangers of aspertame and sucralose for us to ignore. Plain, unadulterated stevia has not only been proven to be harmless to our actually has many healing benefits as well. Until recently it was forbidden to be used as a sweetener in any commercial form, thanks to the influence of powerful multinational companies on the FDA, who have now added their own adulterants to stevia, given their formulas new names, obtained patents, and used their clout to reverse the FDA's rulings. There's no sane reason to pay more for these products.......just stick to the plain, unadulterated herbal product, which is available at any health-food store in various forms. Some people are averse to the slightly licorice taste, in case, I recommend granular Zylatol,a low-glycemic "alcohol sugar" which can even be used in home-baking. Zylatol
has been used for many years as a tooth-preserving ingredient
in a chewing-gum, and is now being marketed as a non-toxic
mouthwash and other products proven to be advantageous for
oral health. Do your homework, folks. Read what Dr. has to say about it all. Get educated. Your body will thank you. Signed: A healthy, hearty 86-year-old "health-nut".

Posted by: healthnut1 | February 17, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

This is not a "defense" but rather my choice for Equal/aspertame. It does not disagree with me and I prefer its taste and lack of aftertaste. My chiropractor recently recommended Stevia, which I've found to be much more expensive. I may give it a try, but will keep an eye out for evaluations of its side effects, if any, and taste.

Posted by: pldrake | February 17, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

My husband has a neurological condition that was fairly mild when we met almost 25 years ago -- shortly before diet sodas started containing Nutrasweet. It became progressively more and more severe over the next few years. I read an article about Nutrasweet being linked to neurological problems, so I suggested that my husband take a break from the diet soda he consumed every day.

Within a week his condition was back to mild, and has stayed that way over the last 15 years unless I accidentally bring something home that contains aspartame. Toothpaste! Who would think to check their toothpaste for it?

Anyway, these days I stick to stevia, honey, agave, or raw organic sugar.

Posted by: KRMD | February 17, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I use stevia for coffee and tea and have been for several years. It hasn't caused me any problems.
I used apsartame in ice tea for 3 to 4 monthes in 2001. After a month or so my feet began to feel like they had rail road spikes in my heels. I started getting intense foot and leg cramps daily. I lost feeling in my feet also. I started searching for answers and heard that aspartame was causing others problems. I stopped using it and several monthes later my feet began to feel a little better. It was a couple of years before my feet were mostly healed up. I now get an occasional cramp in my feet and legs and it is much less intense. Most of the feeling in my feet returned but not all. I no longer feel like I have railroad spikes in my heels. I don't have any medical insurance so a doctor visit was out of the question plus, I doubt it would have helped. I have been reading that aspartame is a nuerotoxin shoved through the FDA by Donald Rumsfeld. He wanted to make a boatload of money on aspartame even though there was strong eveidence that aspartame was NOT safe for consumption.
I refuse to even touch suralose. I have eliminated high-fructose cornsyrup and feel much better for it.
Stevia will taste awful if you use to much of it.

Posted by: Xena22 | February 17, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I purchase plain, purified stevia from . I have also seen it in my health food store. You can grow your own stevia plants if you so desire. I have seen the plants at Home Depot in the past. Seed catalogs carry the seeds too.
I doubt that I will ever use brand name stevia in packets. It is very costly to buy it that way. Knowthescience says that some brands contain flavorings with the stevia. I'll take my stevia plain.

Posted by: Xena22 | February 17, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The "yellow stuff" is my choice. The taste is by far the best for me.

The pink stuff (saccarine) has a horrible aftertaste in my mouth---I'll drink my coffee black before I use it.

That said, it seems to me taste comparisons are flawed because individuals taste different things.

Posted by: Bluefish2012 | February 17, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I use NuStevia - has no carbs like Truvia (3 carbs per pack). I was OK with Splenda til I read about the chlorine thing. However that works, I don't want to eat it.

Posted by: mmaino543 | February 17, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm a "yellow packet" person ever since Splenda first came on the market. It simply tastes better to me than aspartame or saccharine products. Wal-Mart sells a cheaper version of Splenda - their house brand - Altern - which I buy for bulk use.

Posted by: Meckl | February 17, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

For those of you concerned about chlorine in Splenda, you DO realize that your tap water has chlorine in it, right? And that any time you swim in a swimming pool, you're swimming in chlorinated water?

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 17, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I chose Splenda b/c it's pretty much the only one I can use. Also, it's about the right amount of sweet for me.

I used to use Sweet'n'Low when it was about the only thing out there, and now I find that a) it's too sweet and b) it upsets my stomach.

I can't use Equal or NutraSweet. Aspartame gives me migraines. I've known a few people who have had varying reactions to aspartame, so I'm really glad Splenda came along.

The poster(s) who said we should simply go with less sugar or go unsweetened have a valid point, but hey, if it were that simple, we'd all do it.

Posted by: capsfan6 | February 17, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm also in the aspartame=migraine camp. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly common for foods to have aspartame without any clear, front of the label, "artificial sweetener used" designation.

Posted by: SolontheGreat | February 17, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

As a chemist, I have to wonder what chlorinated side-products are produced as trace impurities in Splenda. These sorts of impurities could have serious chronic effects at even parts-per-trillion levels. I prefer NutraSweet - it metabolizes back to simple peptides & amino acids - things already in our diet.

Posted by: priceWV | February 17, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I use "Sugar In The Raw" which is natural cane turinado sugar from Hawaii. One tsp is as sweet as the common white sugar that I haven't used in over 20 years.

Posted by: concerned30 | February 18, 2009 5:53 AM | Report abuse

If there weren't any Stevia, I don't know what I would do. As somebody with blood sugar problems, Stevia really works for me and I have been using it for almost twenty years in my delicious Gevalia coffees for almost all that time.
Now when baking, I use Florida Crystals. Xylitol was too expensive. When making protein bars,(rolled oats, nut butter, protein powder, honey, green tea extract, probiotics, liquid vitamins and minerals, powdered greens, nuts, dried fruit, cacao nibs, all in the food processor until you make a dough, knead it roll it cut it with a twice opened can, put between parchment paper squares, refrigerate in a lined container) buckwheat honey is my choice. If you really want to feel good, go gluten free. Bake your own cookies and pancakes with brown rice flour, millet flour and oat flour, egg whites, baking powder, florida crystals, and vanilla or banana extract. has great gluten free breads and pizza crust, flat breads and pita chips. Stevia rocks!

Posted by: Lydiasings | February 18, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

I voted other because I use Xylitol Plus which is a combination of Xylitol a sugar alcohol which prevents tooth decay and Stevia. It is very sweet so I only need a small amount and its carbohydrate impact is small.

Posted by: diva_at_home | February 18, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, all of the artificial sweeteners are quite dangerous for our long term health. Most of the companies that manufacture these sweeteners are only reporting on the short term effects. The long term effects have been strongly linked to many neuralogical defects such as alzheimers, parkinson's, and some forms of cancer. The average joe public normally waits until it is too late to get smart about processed foods. Typically we wait for the FDA to make a big report about the negative results when all we ever needed to do was educate ourselves. If most people new just how much the FDA is motivated by money and power, they would stop waiting for the FDA to protect them. We must protect ourselves!

Posted by: johnlarrieu | February 18, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

You did not include "none" as a choice. I have never found an artificial sweetener that I can stand to eat.

Posted by: whiteoak | February 18, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Seconding whiteoak: they're all terrible.

Posted by: liliburlero | February 18, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

You make no mention of Xylitol, which I buy in health food stores. One of its side benefits - cavity retardation - as such, it's approved by several dental associations. Sandy Pomerantz, Glen Cove,NY

Posted by: sandyslaw | February 18, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Splenda winning this contest? How ludicrous! How dreadfully Americans have been misled! Just google this term to read the truth about Splenda being essentially a mixture of Chlorine as in bleach, with sugar, and the inexorable medical effects that ensue:

by James Bowen, M.D.

As to Aspartame, the truth on that is in the text of the Hawaii and New Mexico Legislative efforts to ban it in those states, so just google NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE website, and then go to BILL FINDER, and put in Senate Memorial 9 for 2009.

To read about how aspartame's approval was forced by Donald Rumsfeld in 1981 so he could make $12-15 million, and a little about how Aspartame was considered a biological warfare weapon, according to the Federal Register of Congress, just please google and read:

This infernal deception by these ghastly and deadly companies has got to come to an end.

Stephen Fox
Consumer and Political Editor
New Mexico Sun News
Santa Fe, NM

Posted by: stephen6 | February 18, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Good Lord, what is WITH the spammers here?

Posted by: byte1 | February 18, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

I use NuStevia and agave nectar in my tea. Otherwise I go for pure C&H.

Posted by: laura19 | February 20, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

What's wrong with sugar? I mean, the real raw cane sugar, not that refined crap.

Real sugar has tons of vitamins and minerals in it.

The real answer to all of this if for people to stop eating processed foods. Buy basic ingredients and make your own foods.

Food companies only want your money.

And the story of how aspartame was finally rammed through FDA approval is a matter of public record. A good old-fashioned story of corporate greed and political complaisance.

Remember asbestos? They knew that stuff was a killer just a couple of years after bringing it to market. It another seven decades to finally get it banned.

The year after aspartame was introduced to the market, brain tumor rates increased by 250 percent.

Posted by: itchy2008 | February 24, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

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