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Sweeteners are sugars, or sugar substitutes, used in food preparation to give foods a sweet taste and to enhance the flavor of other ingredients. Sweeteners are also used to preserve foods.
Humans have a natural appetite for sweet-tasting foods. In early civilizations, people depended on their natural “sweet tooth” to help them select the edible and nutritious foods over the poisonous foods growing in the wild. In modern times, though not necessary for our survival, our “sweet tooth” still determines many of our food choices, as we continually seek the pleasant, comforting taste of sweets. In fact, it is estimated that the average American consumes the equivalent of 20 tsp (85g) of sugar each day.
Although sugars are an important source of energy in the diet, consumption of too much sugar can negatively influence our health. The invention of non-nutritive sweeteners makes it possible to consume intensely sweet foods without some of the consequences listed above; unfortunately, most of these sweeteners have their own side effects. Moderation in the consumption of all sweet foods is the key.
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The information presented in VitaminLore is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of U.S. registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications.