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Weighing Artificial Sweeteners Against Sugar

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Are artificial sweeteners healthier than sugar? The NY1 Healthy Living report breaks down the different types of sweeteners and tell you what's best for your sweet tooth. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.

We always see the pink, the blue or the yellow, but did you know there are actually seven different types of artificial sweetness?

Over the years, we've heard the debates over the effects of saccharine, aspartame and neotame and sucralose, but now, some newer ones are becoming more mainstream. But are they any different? NY1 asked clinical dietitian Stefanie Mendez to explain what they are. First, Acesulfame-K.

"Sweet One is the brand name for Acesulfame-K. It's about 200 times sweeter than table sugar," Mendez says. "It's not absorbed by our bodies, so it's just excreted, and it's commonly used in combination with other artificial sweeteners."

The FDA deems it safe for the approximate intake of about six diet sodas per day.

Stevia is one that is quickly gaining popularity because even though it's chemically processed, its source is natural.

"Truvia, the brand name for Stevia, is a highly purified extract of stevia plant," Mendez says. "It's been commonly used as a tabletop sweetener. People like it because it's from a plant source, so it's more natural, and it's about 200 times sweeter than tabletop sugar."

Even though it's natural, like all the others, the FDA still sets an acceptable daily intake limit.

The latest one to hit the market is called Nectreese, which is from monk fruit extract. It's been used in China for more than 1,000 years, and it's about 300 times sweeter than table sugar.

Now, Mendez says just because it's from a natural source doesn't necessarily mean one is better than the another. Despite claims and debates, the FDA deems all of them safe, but she and Dr. Rajan Gurunathan say there's not that much evidence on the long-term effects.

"The science seems to say that it's safe," Gurunathan says. "My own personal opinion is, things that are synthetic versus things that are natural, I think there's a tendency to go the natural route these days because there is always the concern of what we don't know."

What we do know is that if you don't have diet or health issues, there's always agave, honey or simple natural sugar at 15 calories pet packet. But remember: moderation, because even good sugar can be too much sugar.

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