Are All Sugar Substitutes the Same?

The client asks, “I’m trying to cut down on sugar. Which artificial sweeteners do you recommend?” My reply, “None. I don’t recommend any artificial sweeteners, but I do recommend stevia as an all-natural sugar substitute.”

Unlike artificial sweeteners, stevia extract is derived from a plant.  I prefer using the liquid extract when adding it to foods or beverages, since that’s the least processed form of stevia (other than whole leaf).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame, sucralose (Splenda), among others as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS).  Additionally, hundreds of research studies have found no conclusive dangers with using artificial sweeteners. Speculation and further research continues for its association with weight gain in children and possible carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects.

With even the slightest risks present, I veer on the side of caution and choose to recommend natural sweeteners in small amounts. Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut nectar, and many other natural sweeteners still contain sugar; therefore stevia is one of the best sugar alternatives when avoiding sugar altogether.

Stevia is newer to the market than many commonly used artificial sweeteners and consequently less research is available to determine any long-term negative effects. Several studies have shown beneficial effects, however, such as improved blood pressure in hypertensive patients and improved glucose tolerance in hyperglycemic patients.

Protein powders, protein bars, and many other “diet” foods and beverages are often littered with artificial sweeteners, so it is important to check those sources when you’re trying to minimize exposure. Fresh Nation goes above and beyond to ensure its food and beverage options are all-natural – primarily sweetening with stevia.

Schedule a complimentary 15-minute nutrition consultation to discuss your health goals, and how I can help you reach them.

Stephanie Brust, MS, RDN, LD/N



Brown, R. J., De Banate, M. A., & Rother, K. I. (2010). Artificial Sweeteners: A Systematic review of metabolic effects in youth. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity , 5 (4), 305-312.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2015, 05 26). Additional Information about High Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for use in Food in the United States. Retrieved 06 15, 2015, from U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

Ulbright C, e. a. (2010). An evidence-based systematic review of stevia by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Cardiovascular Hemotology Agents Medicinal Chemistry , 8 (2), 113-127.