Artificial sweeteners: Which one is the safest to use

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The morning team at ABC11 does it every morning: drink their coffee while debating about the best way to sweeten it.

One thing they could never decide is if sugar or artificial sweeteners are bad for you.

So, they brought in Dr. Sarah Ash, a professor of nutrition at NC State University, to help.

"There are people out there that want you to believe everything out there is dangerous," she explained. "Everything is going to kill you, and get you all worried and excited and upset."

Back in the 1980s, saccharine was banned for causing bladder tumors in lab rats.

However, the study was then debunked, lifting the ban.

"The studies turned out to be really flawed because they gave laboratory animals the equivalent of 800 cans of diet coke a day which wasn't very realistic," she said.

Similar claims have been made about aspartame, like Nutra Sweet and Equal, and sucralose, like Splenda.

Dr. Ash said a lot of research has been done on artificial sweeteners, and while it can be hard to isolate the effects of any one product, there has never been any good evidence that proves any of them are hazardous when consumed in moderate amounts.

A New York Times article published in January 2019 said the same: researchers claim artificial sweeteners may not help you, but there's no proof they hurt you either.

Even Stevia, which has been praised for being plant-based, isn't so innocent.

"Stevia, because it's natural (it) hasn't been studied as rigorously as saccharine. Somehow we define chemicals as being bad. So, I think there's also that mindset that, 'oh, it's natural, I don't have to worry about it.'"

So, should you switch up your sweetening routine?

"What I always try to tell people is, 'If you think Nutra Sweet or aspartame gives you headaches makes you feel bad, then don't use it," Ash said.

She said as long as a person maintains a balanced diet, two packets of artificial sweetener won't hurt.
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