Sugar in Food: Sugar Substitutes You Should Approach with Caution

Monk Fruit Extract

Among its brand names: Monk Fruit in the Raw, Nectresse.

What it is: Several intensely sweet compounds called mogrosides that are extracted from a fruit (Luo Han Guo) that has been eaten in China for at least several hundred years. (The extracts contain no fruit.) Monk fruit extract is about 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Safety: While monk fruit extract may turn out to be perfectly safe, it has never been subjected to long-term safety tests in animals. Without that, we can’t give it a clean bill of health.

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Sucralose

Among its brand names: Equal Sucralose, Splenda.

What it is: Sucrose with three of its hydrogen-oxygen groups replaced with chlorine atoms. It’s about 600 times sweeter than sugar.

Safety: Sucralose had been considered safe until an independent Italian laboratory announced at a conference in 2012 that the sweetener caused leukemia in mice that were exposed to it from before birth. The study hasn’t yet been published.

Some researchers—a few of them funded by the sugar industry—contend that sucralose can alter the beneficial bacteria and enzymes in the gut, which could lead to GI and other problems. But the evidence supporting their claims is weak.

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