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What are the Best Artificial Sweeteners?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated Jan 29, 2024
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There are many different types of artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes available, and they increase in popularity along with trends toward cutting sugar and cutting carbohydrates from the diet. Three of the most popular are saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose, in the order they were introduced to the public. Which is best for your needs depends on what you're using it for and your own tolerance for each sweetener's particular aftertaste.

Most people prefer the taste of aspartame or sucralose over saccharin for regular use. Many find that saccharin has a somewhat bitter aftertaste, although it is generally the least costly of the three. Aspartame-based sugar substitutes are second most expensive, and sucralose, the newest, is also the highest priced.

When it comes to baking and cooking, saccharin and sucralose get top billing. Aspartame not as stable when heated to high temperatures and can lose its sweet flavor, so it should really only be used to sweeten foods after they have been cooked. Many people prefer the taste and texture of baked goods when artificial sweeteners can be baked in. It can also be a little harder to find artificial brown sugars, although there are several available. The majority of people still seem to prefer the taste of sucralose, however, and it measures spoonful to spoonful with sugar, so there is no conversion necessary.

When it comes to health, each of these products is said to have certain side effects. Of the three, sucralose has had the least study since it is the newest, and some question what its long term side effects may be. While many people use each of these products safely, there is always some concern when it comes to artificial sweeteners and other artificial replacements for foods.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By ganerd — On Nov 23, 2013

@anon286922: Such delusional statements are obviously from a promoter or public relations person for Splenda!

You are incorrect on both accounts. First, the stevia I use is unprocessed leaf grown in my back yard, and the only reason the FDA has delayed is due to "anonymous" payoffs from the sugar industry, because although it may be OK for humans it was very detrimental to the industry's financial health! The FDA has always done this. That is why they were sued by the CDC. Their incorrect diet recommendations are, according to the CDC, "directly responsible for the rise in obesity and diabetes in America."

As far as sucralose, it may be made from sugar but it it closer to DDT in its effects on nature, animals, insects and healthy bacteria!

Notice that not one single bread recipe uses it because it kills the yeast!

It cannot be used in making yogurt because it kills the healthy bacteria needed in yogurt making! It can also be put on your skin as a powerful insecticide.

It cannot be used with your pets because it is directly related to causing kidney failure in canines.

For every single spoon you use, it kills more healthy gut bacteria than taking an powerful antibiotic, and once your digestive system is polluted from the use of this it takes years, even after stopping using it to get your gut health back.

Have you ever read the book "The Gut Brain Connection"? It talks about how destroyed gut health can cause violent outbursts, depression and even dementia.

By anon306496 — On Nov 30, 2012

The best source of sugar is unrefined; every natural food has benefits as well as downsides. I find all artificial sweeteners bitter and deceivingly average compared with the real thing. One contributor summed it up perfectly: eat well and exercise. Then there is no need (unless a medical issue is identified) to use sweeteners of any kind. Instead of having five or six cups of coffee/tea a day, have two with real sugar instead.

By anon286922 — On Aug 22, 2012

Stevia, as does all sugar or sucralose, starts from natural sources but all are processed. Yes, even Stevia. Stevia is a mutagen, meaning it can cause cancer and it also causes infertility. It is not approved by the FDA because it is not classified as a sugar substitute, but a nutritional supplement which is not regulated.

What you find in the store is highly processed to make it presentable and more palatable. Sucralose is stable in the body and the chlorine that most people are worried about does not metabolize in the body. As a matter of fact, it speeds up the passage of the sucralose through the body so it doesn't metabolize or affect blood sugar.

Chlorine is naturally found in many foods: potatoes, mushrooms and table salt just to name a few not to mention it is added to our water supply. I choose sucralose.

By anon279025 — On Jul 10, 2012

First I believe artificial sweeteners are mainly for people who suffer from diabetes. Most people should try to stick to the real stuff. Just like everything else they all have their existence values and costs. Neither "sugar" nor "sweeteners" are going to do much harm to our bodies. Only if the users decide to misuse them, do they become problematic.

By anon142921 — On Jan 14, 2011

Of course sugar is bad for you, especially in large doses -- as is everything in excess.

By anon137190 — On Dec 26, 2010

Hey #8--Sugar is way better than any artificial sweetener. Sugar is naturally occurring and I would rather have that than a chemical alternative. Splenda actually kills the good bacteria in your gut, but sugar will not.

If everyone would just eat and live more healthily, we would not need all this chemical junk that is making the labs rich. Also, gang, don't diet--doing so will cause your body to store fat, not rid itself of it. Rather, a healthy diet combined with exercise is the tried and true remedy for obesity.

By anon126189 — On Nov 11, 2010

Sugar is bad for you and the cause of many serious health problems. Any artificial sweetener is better for you than real sugar!

By anon101202 — On Aug 02, 2010

Another great option for diabetics is a product called "Whey Low". They also have a brown sugar substitute.

By anon96656 — On Jul 16, 2010

Artificial sweeteners are pure chemicals, that are sweet in tests. Every chemical has some of the side effects. these sweeteners also have it, so if you use artificial sweeteners then get ready to face the heat. Tip: Reduce your natural sugar intake and be healthy. It makes sense.

By anon82769 — On May 07, 2010

I suggest you do more research. While Stevia starts out from sugar, it is subjected to a number of processes that are in no way "natural" which change the chemical composition of the sugar. It is produced in a lab! Just because it starts as sugar doesn't mean it stays natural.

By anon21202 — On Nov 11, 2008

Stevia is great but people, please read the question - Stevia it is not an artificial sweetener - the question was - "what are the best artificial sweeteners".

By anon17816 — On Sep 08, 2008

Hi. I believe Stevia, and another favorite Xylitol, are not classified as "artificial" sweeteners, because they are naturally occurring.

It is for this very reason that i prefer to use Stevia and Xylitol to sweeten my foods with. I am hesitant to use anything artificially produced in a lab. they grey area surrounding safety and side effects make me uneasy. I prefer natural sweeteners such as Stevia and Xylitol

By anon14430 — On Jun 16, 2008

you didn't mention Stevia. It is more expensive, but is natural from plants, not acidic (for those with GRD or other stomach issues), 0 calories, and is thought to have many health benefits. It's very sweet and about 1/4 tsp=1 tsp sugar. Can be used for cooking also.

By anon13569 — On May 30, 2008

I am surprised that Stevia was not included in the above mentioned sweetners. It comes from a natural food source and is much safer than all of the above.

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