There are so many "diet" products on the market today, with a whole myriad of sugar alternatives -are any of them good? Or safe? Or tasty?
Unfortunately many of them are not,,,,and many are untested or unknown for long term health effects. Some health effects are starting to develop - sensitivities to these artificial sweeteners, as well as exacerbating issues like ADD/ADHD/Autism and behavioral issues.
Here are some of the more artificial sweeteners, and then below, the 3 natural sweeteners I recommend.
The "Bad", human-made sweeteners
Aspartame - ie. Equal, Nutrisweet, many carbonated "diet" beverages - can overexcite brain neurons causing behavior issues and brain cell death
Saccharin - Banned in Canada in 1977 because it is a carcinogen (causes cancer), but is legal in the USA. HMMMM.....
Sodium Cyclamate - Legal in Canada but banned in the US because is a carcinogen (causes cancer). HMMMM...
Acesulfame Potassium - Shown to be possibly carcinogenic in rats, and also is a potential neurotoxin.
Sucralose - ie. Spelnda. Safer, but still not ideal in my mind. It's made by replacing 3 atoms of hydrogen with 3 atoms of chlorine (yes the same stuff you put in your pool!), so it is actually sweeter than sugar, but is calorie-free. Better than the previous 3 in my mind, but I still much pefer the natural options below.
The Good - calorie-free sweeteners made by nature
*All 3 of these are available in health food stores, healthy grocery stores (ie Whole Foods, Nature's Emporium, Healthy Planet, Noah's, Ambrosia Foods, etc. Stevia and Xylitol are almost always available in just about any grocery store.
It's portable! - stevia is available in a small, portable liquid dropper, or even in mini sachets (like other sweeteners) so you can keep them in your car, coat, purse, etc. Monk fruit is also available in a small, portable squirt bottle, so you can have it in your tea/coffee/iced tea/etc., everywhere you go!
Stevia - an extract of the leaf of the stevia plant - or you can simply get ground stevia leaf - or grow your own. Sweetens just about anything with zero calories, and none of the adverse health effects of sugar. Different brands taste different/better/worse, so find the one that suits you best. I suggest starting with "Truvia." Safe for diabetics, weight loss, and other health issues. Used in South America for CENTURIES to sweeten just about anything.
Xylitol/Erythritol - Xylitol and Erythritol are sugar alcohols, the higher quality forms coming from birch tree wood chips, the lower quality forms coming from corn. These are sugar "alcohols" that taste sweet, but that your body only absorbs about 1/3 of the calories, and they are lower on the glycemic scale, which means they are safer for diabetics, and weight loss, immune issues/autoimmune. Sugar alcohols can occasinoally cause bloating in a small percentage of the population, but isn't all that common, and only when ingested in large amounts. It also kills yeasts and bad bacteria!
Monk Fruit extract (Luo Han Guo) - This is the extract of an asian fruit, and it is 300 times sweeter than sugar, requiring an extrememly small amount to sweeten food, having pretty much a zero glycemic index, and is safe for diabetics, weight loss, and other health issues. Used for HUNDREDS of years in Asian cuisine and to sweeten foods.
*One note on taste - sometimes natural sweeteners don't always taste like sugar (Monk Fruit is fairly close!), but I find if you combine 2 or 3 of them together when cooking or baking it actually tastes pretty close. Or, if you use them in something with a strong flavour like chocolate, smoothies, or anything with cinnamon, again it's difficult to notice a difference