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Which Is Worse for Your Kids: Aspartame Or High Fructose Corn Syrup?

Which Is Worse for Your Kids: Aspartame Or High Fructose Corn Syrup?

May 18, 2011

By Healthy Child Guest Blogger, Betsy Escandon, Eco-Novice

Is the artificial sweetener aspartame bad for you and your kids?

The FDA and food industry lists aspartame as an approved substance. However, some researchers have linked aspartame to cancerneurological problems, and preterm delivery.

As a general rule, try to eat only real food, not substances never found in nature that were synthesized in a laboratory (like food additives). This is surprisingly difficult if you shop in an American supermarket. Lots of ingredients in processed foods fall into this food additives category: artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners.

Are artificial sweeteners better than processed sugars such as refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup?

To answer this question, let’s consider another mind-boggling dilemma: trans fat versus preservatives (both used to extend shelf life)? We wouldn’t spend too much time or energy deliberating over these questions. Avoid highly processed foods with little to no nutritional value. It’s true that we should all be eating less processed sugar, but you aren’t doing yourself any favors by eating artificial sweeteners instead.

Tips to Reduce Consumption of Processed Sugar (without artificial sweeteners)

  • Drink water. If you skip the soda and other beverages, you save yourself oodles of money, calories, and massively reduce your consumption of sweeteners whether natural, refined or synthetic.
  • Eat fruit when you crave something sweet, or as dessert after a meal. This is what all those slim Europeans do. Keep lots of fresh fruit in highly accessible locations in your kitchen all the time.
  • Use sugary foods as special desserts instead of snacks throughout the day. My goal is to eat dessert once a week (and fruit the rest of the time).
  • Make your own food. If you buy packaged food, read the ingredient list carefully.
  • If you make a recipe often, experiment with reducing (or eliminating) the sugar. For example, you could probably cut 1/4 of the sugar in your cookie recipe without even noticing.

When you need to use a sweetener in a recipe, use a natural sweetener, like honey, agave, or maple syrup.

You may have heard that a calorie is a calorie, but your body processes different calories differently. Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup are not “natural,” and I think it just makes sense that your body will be happier digesting foods that exist in nature and have been eaten for thousands of years, like honey and maple syrup. When substituting one of these liquid sweeteners for sugar, remember to reduce the other liquid in your recipe. For example, you can use 1 tablespoon of honey instead of 2 tablespoons white sugar in whole wheat pancakes. 

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