I've heard that sugar free mints use sweeteners instead of sugar. Are sweeteners just as bad for you as sugar? Are sugar free mints better than mints with sugar in it or just the same? Thanks.
Sugar-free stuff that needs sweetness typically uses artificial sweeteners. The point of artificial sweeteners is to duplicate the sweetness, but not actually provide the calories/food energy. Whether they are dangerous or unhealthy is a continuing controversy. A lot of studies say "it might cause cancer" but if you believe studies, everything seems to cause cancer, and then the next day, everything prevents it.
The way I see it, if a person does get cancer, and they happen to use Artificial sweeteners, that doesn't imply causation. So you'll never know what caused it, and even if you did, that isn't going to change anything anyway. For all we know it was simply a natural occurence. Also, with the exception of Cyclamate, the studies that "prove" that it caused cancer are often full of holes.
Aspartame is generally the safest, because it get's metabolized. Saccharin is probably fine, most of the studies done were subsequently discovered to have flawed reasoning, since the tests were animal-based (rats) and the process by which the rats contracted cancer from saccharin was specific to their metabolism and urine composition.
sucralose is hard to argue as "dangerous" since it does appear naturally in a wide variety of food products, fruits and vegetables as well as even some meats.
Lead acetate is obviously dangerous to the point where it hasn't been used for hundreds of years.
Unless you're diabetic. Obviously taste-wise, sugar is desirable over artificial sweeteners, but sugar has other problems associated with it, particularly refined sugar. Tooth decay and having to watch blood sugar levels due to diabetes are just two reasons.
Sugar isn't bad for you, as long as you don't over-consume it.
So, here's a run-down of the forms of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
There's two main kinds of sugar which are used to sweeten food: cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
Cane sugar, also known as table sugar, is the least dangerous.
It is actually a complex sugar, as it is made of both glucose and fructose. It occurs naturally in plant-life as the major food created via photosynthesis. Sucrose is particularly plentiful in plants such as sugar cane and sugar beets, which is where we harvest most of the sucrose we eat.
Sucrose is easily assimilated into the body, so it provides a quick burst of energy in the body, via a rapid rise of glucose in the blood stream. This however, is not part of a normal human diet. It should not do harm in most cases, but extensive consumption can lead to problems such as weight gain and insulin resistance.
The main goal of its use is to make food taste better, which is both effective for the producer for marketing food products, and the consumer enjoying the meal.
High-fructose corn syrup has a few more problems, in addition to sucrose's issues.
All sugars have some content of fructose in them, though in this form, it is quite a bit more plentiful.
It was originally introduced into the food market because it does not provide as much of a burst of energy in the blood stream. It was thought that this could help with diabetes. Another reason is because it is much much cheaper, and can be transported and distributed as a liquid.
Sugars such as glucose, usually in the form of carbohydrates, are regulated in the blood via insulin.
However, fructose is instead processed in the liver. Extensive consumption can lead to the liver not being able to process it quickly enough, and so the liver processes the fructose into fat. This fat is distributed into the bloodstream as triglycerides.
This issue of the liver not being able to process it quickly enough is quite a bit easier to trigger when your fructose is being introduced at a high rate, as is the case with HFCS.
The most prominent effect of this is that the fructose ends up circumventing the body's signalling for appetite. Hormones which signal when to stop eating are not triggered, and so you eat more. This easily leads to weight gain.
These triglycerides can also lead to heart disease, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
So, sugar substitutes, on the other hand, are very different.
Saccharin is the major ingredient in Sweet'N'Low.
It was first discovered by Constantin Fahlberg, who was a chemist working on derivatives of coal tar. He discovered that saccharin, in the form of benzoic sulfimide, left a sweet taste on his hands after he had worked with it.
Saccharin is non-caloric, and so it's an option if someone wishes to eat sweet foods without a potential for weight-gain.
The Pure Food and Drug Act lead to scientists discovering that it caused bladder cancer in lab rats. This led to a ban.
US Congress intervened after the public protested. It was the only artificial sweetener available, and so they did not want to lose the benefits of a fat-free sweetener. Saccharin was allowed to remain in the food supply so long as the label carried the warning that it had caused cancer on laboratory rats.
This has been heavily criticised, as even a weak carcinogen could pose a risk to the public.
Aspartame is marketed as Nutrasweet, Aminosweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin.
It was first discovered by James M. Schlatter, a chemist. He had synthesized aspartame while working towards an anti-ulcer drug.
Aspartame is caloric, though because it is many times sweeter than sucrose, very small amounts are needed to properly sweeten a food, and so the caloric intake is not an issue.
One major side effect is that it may worsen or incite clinical depression in those who consume it. In a study of the effect of aspartame on 40 patients with depression, the study was cut short due to the severity of reactions within the first 13 patients tested.
Another side effect is that it can cause headaches. Three randomized studies showed that headaches were more frequent and more severe in the group given aspartame.
Sucralose is the sweetener present in Splenda.
It was discovered in 1976 by scientists researching the usage of sucrose and its synthetic derivatives for industrial applications.
In addition to sucralose, Splenda contains dextrose and maltodextrin, which are required to make the sweet taste noticeable.
These are carbohydrates which do have calories.
Sucralose is made when sucrose is selectively chlorinated. This presence of chlorine can be very dangerous as it is a well-known carcinogen.
Acesulfame potassium, also known as Acesulfame-K, is used in Sunett and Sweet One.
Ace-K has not been researched nearly as thoroughly as other sweeteners.
Acesulfame K does contains the carcinogen methylene chloride.
In addition to cancer, methylene chloride has been shown to cause multiple mental health issues such as depression and hallucinations, as well as effects on the kidneys and liver.
Neotame has a similar chemical structure to Acesulfame-K, and was created by the same company who produces Nutrasweet, which was a company division of Monsanto.
There have been over 100 'corporate-sponsored' studies conducted on neotame to prove its safety before FDA approval. Though, because of its similarity to Ace-K, it may cause similar problems.
I'd suggest sticking to sugar-based mints; considering the serving size, it shouldn't matter.
Unless you're eating thirty or so mints a day, the sugar intake isn't going to cause any problems.
Cut down on other things like soda or fatty foods if weight gain is a concern. Mints aren't going to hurt you.
If you're going to go with an artificial sweetener, at least make sure it's saccharin.
You don't wanna consume aspartame or sweeteners. Sure, it may be low sugar, but I don't think it's worth it. Plus, remember, if you want to lose weight or anything, it's not eating much sugar that will make you fat, it's consuming more calories than you burn, as long as you don't eat too much of it.