I just did a search on PubMed for “artificial sweeteners” and came up with 162,789 resulted published articles. Wow, it’s no wonder there are so many questions out there about which artificial sweeteners are safe and how much is too much. I haven’t even sorted all that out yet myself- except to say that moderation is the key with sugar and artificial sweeteners alike.
However, I have come across a natural plant fiber used as a sweetener called inulin or oligofructose. The main sources of this are Jerusalem artichoke and chicory. It’s a sugar free sweetener with a glycemic index of approximately zero! This means, it does not cause any surges in your insulin levels after eating making it very different from sugar or complex carbohydrates. Studies have shown it to be helpful in stimulating the immune system, decreasing the bad bacteria in the intestine, alleviating constipation, lowering the risk of osteoporosis (by increasing the absorption of calcium in the gut), reducing the risk of plaques building up in your arteries and lowering the risk of colon cancer. In fact it seems to act very similar to dietary fiber in our bodies and some have even proposed classifying it as dietary fiber instead of it’s current classification as a carbohydrate.
If you’d like to try it out for yourselves, check out these ChocoPerfection bars. They are sweetened with oligofructose. That is definitely the best “sugar-free” chocolate I have ever tried with none of the side effects of sugar alcohols. If you’re looking for a way to satisfy your sweet tooth without the sugar rush followed by the inevitable crash, try these. Absolutely delicious!!
Brooke Uptagrafft, MD
Dr. Brooke is a family medicine doctor.