How to Identify Artificial Sweeteners

Stevia tablets on a wooden table.
Stevia tablets on a wooden table. (Image: bdspn/iStock/Getty Images)

Although artificial sweeteners are generally regarded as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some people prefer to avoid them. There may be some benefits to doing so, as a study published in Nature in September 2014 found that these sweeteners may cause changes in the microorganisms in the gut that can decrease insulin sensitivity, potentially increasing the risk for diabetes. Even though artificial sweeteners are sometimes used to cut calories and help with weight loss, there's also some evidence they may actually have the opposite effect, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Reading labels is the key to avoiding artificial sweeteners in your diet. They are typically found in sugar-free or reduced-sugar products.

Artificial Sweetener Names

The main artificial sweeteners may be included on ingredients lists as aspartame, acesulfame-K, acesulfame potassium, saccharin, sucralose and neotame. Brand names these sweeteners may be listed under include Equal, NutraSweet, Sweet One, Sunett, Necta Sweet, Sweet 'N Low, Splenda, Equal-Measure, Spoonful, Sugar Twin and Sweet Twin. Other artificial sweeteners include advantame; stevia, also called Steviva, Truvia, PureVia, SweetLeaf, Sun Crystals and Rebiana; and lo han kuo, also called monk fruit and sold under the brand name Nectresse.

Other Sugar Substitutes

Some calorie-free or lower-calorie sweeteners aren't artificial. If you'd like to avoid these as well, they could be listed as lactitol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, glucitol, glycerol, xylitol and erythritol. Erythritol brand names include Sweet Simplicity, Zero and ZSweet, and xylitol brand names include Miracle Sweet, XyloPure, XyloSweet and Nature's Provision. Tagatose, also called PreSweet, is another naturally occurring reduced-calorie sweetener you might see on labels.

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