DALLAS -- Substituting non-nutritive sweeteners for added sugars in beverages and other foods has the potential to help people reach and maintain a healthy body weight and help people with diabetes and glucose control, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.
The statement said scientific evidence is limited and inconclusive about whether this strategy is effective in the long run for reducing calorie and added sugars consumption.
High intake of dietary sugars contributes to cardiovascular disease and obesity which then can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
The American Heart Association recommends that most women eat no more than 100 calories per day and men no more than 150 calories per day of added sugars. This recommendation is based on research that showed diets high in added sugars increase risk factors, such as obesity and triglycerides, for coronary heart disease. Additionally, foods and beverages high in added sugars tend to displace nutritious foods and are generally high in calories and low in nutritional value. Limiting intake of added sugars can help reduce calorie intake and can help people achieve or maintain a healthy body weight.
Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Stanford University in California says smart use of non-nutritive sweeteners could help you reduce added sugars in your diet, therefore lowering the number of calories you eat. Reducing calories could help you attain and maintain a healthy body weight, and thereby lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Research is inconclusive whether using non-nutritive sweeteners to displace caloric sweeteners, such as added sugars, can reduce carbohydrate intake (important for diabetes control), calorie intake or body weight, benefit appetite or lower other risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease in the long run.
Beyond calories, and focusing more specifically on added sugars, non-nutritive sweeteners have their place for people with diabetes. Yet, there still needs to be appropriate use of the non-nutritive sweeteners, just because a food product includes a non-nutritive sweetener, does not mean that it is a "free" food or a healthy food.
For more information about healthy eating, visit the American Heart Association's Nutrition Center.