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Sweetening your health

artificial sweetenersNext time you’re sitting down at your local diner and debating whether to use the sugar in the white packet or the sugar substitute in the colored one, know that new research shows the latter may be the healthier choice. The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently stated that substituting artificial, or “non-nutritive,” sweeteners for sugar to add to food and drinks may help people reach and maintain a healthy body weight. The statement, published in the AHA journal Circulation and ADA journal Diabetes Care, also notes that non-nutritive sweeteners, when used appropriately, can aid in blood sugar control for people with diabetes.

Diets high in added sugars increase risk factors for coronary heart disease, such as obesity and high triglycerides. People should, however, monitor their overall sugar intake when they use artificial sweeteners to replace high-sugar items. For example, having a diet soda in place of a high-calorie soft drink may be a smart choice, but rewarding yourself later with an ice cream sundae defeats the purpose.