Mr Colin Ong Tau Shien asked a good question ("Are artificial sweeteners a good substitute?"; last Friday).
Artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes, including saccharin, acesulfame potassium, aspartame, sucralose and D-Tagatose, are compounds that offer the sweetness of sugar without the same calories.
They can be as high as 8,000 times sweeter than sugar and have fewer calories than foods made with sugar.
While each gram of refined table sugar contains four calories, many sugar substitutes have zero calories per gram.
Although they may help with weight control, they are not magic bullets for weight loss.
One benefit of artificial sweeteners is that they do not contribute to tooth decay and cavities. They may be a good alternative to sugar if one has diabetes.
Artificial sweeteners are regulated by the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as food additives.
They must be approved by the FDA before being made available for sale to the public.
Natural sweeteners include fruit juices and nectars, honey, molasses and maple syrup.
Processed foods, which often contain sugar substitutes, generally do not offer the same health benefits as naturally grown fruits and vegetables.
Heng Cho Choon