PhotoIs sugar bad for you or good for you? The answer, of course, is: “It depends; some sugar is an absolute biological/nutritional necessity for human bodies to function (which is why we evolved the tendency to crave it in the first place), but if you live in a modern Westernized technological society, there's a very good chance your own diet contains far more sugar than is healthy.”

So in the past few generations there have been countless attempts to discover some type of sugar substitute that will deliver all the delicious sweetness of sugar with none of the health risks too much sugar can cause.

And there's still debate in scientific circles over just how useful these sugar substitutes actually are; to offer just one example, a study out of Yale last autumn suggested that dieters (or anyone seeking to either lose weight, or avoid gaining any) who use artificial sweeteners might actually be worse off than dieters who eat regular sugar, basically because the sugar cravings generated in your brain will not go away unless the brain receives certain chemicals which your body only makes after breaking down genuine sugar.

In other words, artificial sweeteners might do nothing to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Sweet tooth

Bear this is mind next time you read articles touting the alleged miracle attributes of stevia, a plant extract reputed to be from 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar (though even stevia fans admit it tends to leave an unpleasant, licorice-type aftertaste).

Like this article, which the UK's Daily Mail published on March 17 to specifically discuss stevia and other sweeteners' potential to reduce the high levels of sugar consumption commonly found in the British diet.

Evan assuming stevia really is as wonderful as its most fervent advocates say — no health effects compared to sugar, no ill effects at all except for the bitter aftertaste (which is easy to mask with oher ingredients)  it's still important to remember that too much emphasis on sugar levels in your diet can blind you to other potential problems.

There's an actual name for this – “over-compromising” – the best example of which is found in the old joke about the self-defeating guy who drinks a diet soda in lieu of a regular one, then rewards himself by eating a few donuts: calories are calories, and if you consume too many overall, reducing your consumption in one area won't matter if you increase it in another.

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