Artificial sweetenersfor example, stevia and Splendaare a wonderful blessing for some of us. We can enjoy a diet soda or sweeten our coffee without adding calories.
But artificial sweeteners have their critics. Some argue that the sweeteners are causing a host of serious health problems, including obesity. Another criticism is that the impact of long-term use has not been thoroughly researched, especially for children. Moreover, some people report a bitter aftertaste with some sweeteners. (I’m one of those people.)
For some, artificial sweeteners trigger digestive problems. That is, some people report gas or cramps after consuming artificial sweeteners. Based on a study of rats, some critics have concluded that consuming artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain. By not satisfying the need for something sweet, people may (just as the rats did) consume more calories than they would otherwise.
Dr. Andrew Weil, a leading proponent of holistic medicine, is one of the critics of artificial sweeteners. In the past, he has consistently argued against their use. Imagine my surprise, then, to learn that a relatively new product, ZSweet, has Dr. Weil’s stamp of approval. In the October 20, 2007, issue of Self Healing, Dr. Weil discusses ZSweet:
This natural, calorie-free sweetener appears safe, and I think it’s a better substitute for baking and flavoring than sucralose (Splenda) and other artificial sweeteners, which I don’t recommend using.
ZSweet is a blend of erythritol (a sugar alcohol found in many fruits and fermented foods like soy sauce, cheese and wine) and other fruit extracts.
The crystalline white powder is about 70 percent as sweet as sugar and lacks the bitter aftertaste of some artificial sweeteners.
Unlike table sugar, ZSweet is considered safe for teeth by the FDA and, unlike many artificial sweeteners, is unlikely to cause gas or cramps. It has no effect on blood sugar, so it’s also safe for diabetics.
The product was introduced by Ventana Health Inc., a small California-based company whose stated mission is to provide information and products that foster healthy lifestyles through intelligent food and supplements.
ZSweet was also favorably mentioned in the New York Times best-selling book The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet by Nicholas Perricone, MD. Dr. Perricone particularly likes the fact that ZSweet doesn’t raise blood-sugar levels. Since its introduction, ZSweet has been certified by the FDA as organic, is certified as kosher and is sold at Whole Foods and other health-food stores.
I value the opinions of medical professionals and researchers; however, at the same time, I value my own experience of a product. Consequently, I ordered ZSweet from my local health-food store and found it looked and tasted like sugar without any aftertaste. I’m glad I have ZSweet as an alternative. If you’re looking for an artificial sweetener, you may want to experiment as well.