Before you decide to use man-made sweeteners, decide what you already know about them and what you still don't know about synthetic sweeteners. There are a multitude of reasons why some of us use artificial sweeteners, there are also several kinds of sweeteners and there have recently been debates by doctors looking into the side-effects associated with sweeteners and their popular use.

What are artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are sugar alternatives that taste like sugar but are synthetic, in other words artificial sweeteners are man-made.

Why use man-made sweeteners

Out of the many reasons someone might purchase a man-made sweetener, here are the most often expressed:

• Being careful with the waist line. Dieters who count caloric intake can better control their diet, without having to change the foods they have at meals.

• Your teeth will thank you. A few of the man-made sweeteners actually decrease the PH level in plaque.

• Diabetes - people with diabetes have much to watch for when keeping track of their blood sugar levels, and utilizing synthetic sweeteners can let them enjoy a more varied diet while still being able to sensibly track their blood sugar levels.

• Save money. Because synthetic sweeteners are cheaper to produce, they generally cost less than actual sugar.

What varieties of synthetic sweeteners are available?

The primary types of synthetic sweeteners that are commonly in stores in the States, and have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are:

• Saccharin (e.g., Sweet 'n' Low) - was the first synthetic sweetener to be discovered in 1879. Saccharin has 500 times the sweetening power of sugar and is usually used in dietary foods and drinks.

• Aspartame (e.g., Equal, NutraSweet) - was discovered in 1965, it has no smell to it, is a crystalline powder, which is derived from two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is most likely utilized in frozen desserts, sodas and juices and chewing gum.

• Sucralose (e.g., Splenda, Altern) - is 500 times sweeter than sugar, and is produced from sucrose when three chlorine atoms replace three hydroxyl groups. Sucralose is usually used in beverages, frozen desserts, bubble gum and edibles made of dough.

Synthetic sweeteners and their effect on your health

Some research implies a possible connection between artificial sweeteners and cancer or other physical concerns.

Saccharin and aspartame are two of the most widely purchased synthetic sweeteners, which have in past test studies been found to cause forms of cancer in lab rats. However, further studies into these artificial sweeteners have found that though there have been issues in its use with rats there has been no causal link with human use and therefore these two man-made sweeteners have been given green light by the FDA.

There are other options to sweeten your food and drink

Even though artificial sweeteners are usually deemed safe and even good for you in some instances, honey or Xylitol is a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners, if you are thinking about your body, or the health of your unborn baby, if you are pregnant. Xylitol is an organic compound that can be processed from various berries and also oats and mushrooms. Xylitol has also been found to not only be wonderfully safe for pregnant or nursing mothers, but that ongoing consumption can diminish the amount of bacteria which result in tooth decay.