Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (and particularly carbonated soft drinks), can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
The common solution for sweetening foods and beverages is to use artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Nutrasweet, and now AminoSweet).
While these substances may not be as harmful as some say, studies have shown that they indeed may cause harmful effects in the body. Until further research is done, I think it’s smartest to avoid them.
So what can we use as a safe, low-calorie sweetener?
Well, stevia extracts known as “steviol glycosides,” to be exact.
Stevia is a plant with sweet leaves, and research has shown that it increases insulin sensitivity, helps regulate blood glucose levels, has anti-carcinogenic properties, decreases oxidative stress associated with eating large amounts of carbohydrates, reduces blood pressure and inflammation in the body, lowers bad cholesterol levels, and protects the kidneys.
In addition, very little is actually needed because steviol glycosides are 300 times sweeter than sugar, making them a 0-calorie sweetener. Their effects on insulin are also negligible (one study showed that stevia eaten with a meal resulted in lower insulin levels than aspartame or sucrose).
So I recommend giving stevia a try, and Stevita is the brand I personally use and like.