Posted: 05 March 2019

This is an English translation of the original article entitled, "Il dolce inganno del cibo senza zucchero", which may be found at:

Confuse sweetness without affecting calories. But are substances that replace sugar safe?

Fats-free snacks, calorie-free drinks, mozzarella without lactose, sugar without sugar!

By now food companies are proposing increasingly strange products to attract the attention of a consumer who has become attentive and informed about the problems that a diet rich in sugar can reserve.

And playing on the psychological bombardment of "sugar free" or "light" are spreading less and less calories on the market.

If it is true that the "light" version of the same product contains less calories than the original one, are the substances that replace sugar safe?


Often when we read "without added sugars " on the labels of some foods, sucrose is replaced by sweeteners, or molecules built in the laboratory (synthetic sweeteners).

Among the most common we have saccharin (E954), aspartame (E591), acesulfame (E950), sucralose (E955) and cyclamate (E952).

Their advantage is to give a sweet power to foods without affecting the calories and therefore theoretically replace sugary foods with their "light" cousins should avoid the intake of many unnecessary calories, thus reducing the incidence of obesity.

Too bad, however, that this strategy turned out to be bankrupt because the number of overweight people instead of decreasing would seem to increase.

For some time we have been trying to understand if the use of sweeteners is so harmless and if their consumption can have some negative impact on health.

Many studies condemn them, while others emphasize their dangerousness only at massive doses whose achievement would seem impossible within a balanced diet.

For example, aspartame is considered safe when it does not exceed 40 mg / kg, ie for a person of 70 kg would be equivalent to the consumption of 12 cans of light drinks.

However, some time ago a study was published by a group of Israeli researchers concerning the administration of saccharin, sucralose and aspartame to laboratory mice, and their blood sugar was compared to that of other mice that had been given sugar.

Yes, the glycemia of rats fed with sweeteners was much higher than that of the group fed with sugar.

Another shocking discovery was also made on the intestinal flora of animals subjected to a diet rich in sweeteners which had bacteria typical of that which is usually present in obese mice.

To make the study even more reliable, the research has been extended to 400 human patients.


After only 4 days of a sweetener-based diet, their glycemia was altered as was the intestinal bacterial flora.


For some years now, a new natural sweetener, stevia , has been increasingly present in organic shops but also among supermarket shelves .

It is a plant typical of South America, Brazil and Paraguay in particular, whose sweetening power is 200 times higher than that of sugar thanks to the presence of steviosidi and rebaudioside A.

It can be bought both in powder form and in liquid form.

Rich in iron, manganese, vitamins and carbohydrates, it was often used in ancient times as a homeopathic remedy.

The diatribe about its danger is always open: there are those who believe it safe and usable by diabetics or pregnant women, those who exalt the danger byattributing a certain level of carcinogenicity.


The light soft drinks create a kind of dependence and abusing the palate loses interest in other flavors not appreciating the food unsweetened.

Moreover, whenever we take products containing artificial sugars, the body receives an "ambiguous" psychobiological sign, and the system of appetite regulation is in a certain sense put in crisis.


All this leads us to eat more to compensate for the calories not received (paradox of the sweetener). Since there is therefore no scientific or realistic evidence that the substitution of sugary products with light ones reduces the risk of obesity, the advice is to avoid stratagems whose sole purpose is to make us feel less guilty.

Instead, you need to cut the extra calories by completely eliminating the sugary foods or reducing them as much as possible, without looking for any substitutes.

On the other hand to lose weight there are no magic potions, the secret is always the same: eat less, better and above all move more!