Sugar Substitutes: Helpful or Harmful?

Since the 1980s there has been an explosion of sugar substitutes in the marketplace. These artificial or highly refined natural compounds are used frequently in beverages and processed foods to lower total calories (so-called diet foods and beverages) or decrease added sugar (as in sugar-free or low-sugar products). The number of products available for use at the table or in cooking and baking at home has also increased. While these compounds are touted as calorie-cutting weight loss aids and an option to people with diabetes looking for sweet choices while sticking to their diet, questions about efficacy and safety have dogged them from the start.
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