Processed sugar and HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup) are not the only sweeteners to be avoided. There are sweeteners such as Aspartame, which are linked to potentially harmful health effects.
Aspartame itself has no calories, so it couldn’t possibly contribute to increased body weight, right? Well, this is where things get really interesting. Some studies suggest that Aspartame may increase hunger. Increased appetite may then result in greater caloric intake and increased risk of obesity. Other studies show the opposite effects making the effect of aspartame on appetite inconclusive.
Short-term studies have shown that Aspartame has some negative health effects such as migraines. Also, it is unclear what the long-term health effects are. Aspartame may hide behind brand names such as NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure, but it still accounts for 75 percent of adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA according to Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D. in Get the Sugar Out.
Based on an article from 2008 published by Sharon Fowler in the journal Obesity (Fueling the obesity epidemic? Artificially sweetened beverage use and long-term weight gain), individuals who consume diet soft drinks are at an increased risk of overweight and obesity than those who don't. The risk of obesity continued to increase dramatically with increased consumption of 'diet' soft drinks and was independent of other factors like exercise, smoking or socioeconomic status. This epidemiological study doesn’t prove that diet soft drinks cause obesity. To be more precise, people who drink more diet soft drinks may also have other behaviours that put them at increased risk of gaining weight. However, the results are still pretty surprising. There are other studies that claim the opposite. How is that possible? There is, of course, a strong financial interest to dilute the real effects of Aspartame. Based on a survey of studies regarding the safety of Aspartame, there is an obvious correlation between the outcome of the studies and the source of their funding: Non-Industry Funded vs Industry Funded
In a nutshell, Aspartame may cause bloating, sugar cravings, weight gain, impaired appearance of cellulite. Some say it may be linked to cancer but there is no evidence of such claim. Aspartame is commonly found in sweeteners (syrups, sugar substitutes, etc.), sugar-free products, cooking sauces, cereals, diet sodas (Diet coke, etc.), sugar-free yogurts, flavored water, drink powders (beware of some protein powders that contain Aspartame) but even children's medicines and toothpastes.
So, which sweeteners are the healthiest yet low in carbs?
There are many sweeteners that can be used on a low-carb diet. Have a look at my post Complete Guide To Sweeteners on Low-carb Ketogenic Diet to find out which sweeteners are the healthiest and lowest in net carbs.