Almost all foods, including health fruits and vegetables, contain some type of sugar. All sugar, even in nutritious foods, can contribute to tooth decay.
The good news is that you don’t need to avoid sweets altogether, just the added sugars. These sugars with no nutrient value include sucrose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and molasses. According to the American Dietetic Association, using artificial sweeteners can help cut down on calories and manage chronic conditions such as diabetes. Sugar substitutes also can aid in preventing cavities.
The following non-nutritive sweeteners have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
This is one of the few low-calorie sweeteners that can be heated without losing sweetness, which makes it great for baking. It is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar. Granulated forms make measuring easy for baking. It’s in some candies, cough drops, frozen desserts, beverages, and breath mints.
Aspartame used in many products, including diet drinks, cereal, gum, and as a tabletop sweetener. This sugar substitute is 200 times sweeter than sugar.
Neotame is a general purpose sweetener used in a wide variety of products. Depending on its food applications, neotame is approximately 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar.
This popular low-calorie sweetener has been in use for more than a century. It’s 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar.
Like acesulfame-K, sucralose stays sweet when heated, so you can cook with it. You can use the granulated form like table sugar. Sucralose is about 600 times sweeter than sugar. This sweetener is in some cereals, beverages and other prepared foods.
“Diet and Dental Health.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/diet-and-dental-health. Accessed 2013.
“Background on Carbohydrates and Sugar.” Food Insight, International Food Information Council Foundation. http://www.foodinsight.org/Resources/Detail.aspx?topic=Background_on_Carbohydrates_Sugars. Accessed 2013.
“Artificial Sweeteners: Their Origins and Mechanisms.” University of Maryland 2009. http://www.clfs.umd.edu/grad/mlfsc/Artificial%20Sweeteners.pdf. Accessed 2013.