No, except for one of them. Sweeteners sold on the market are safe for pregnant women except for cyclamates. All other sweeteners, however, must be consumed in moderation.
In theory, permitted sweeteners on the market are safe during pregnancy except for one category, cyclamates, better known under brand names such as Sucaryl®, Sugar Twin® and Sweet’N Low®.
Cyclamates are never found in prepared foods. They usually serve as sugar substitute, often to add in coffee or tea. They are sold in bags as granules or tablets. To avoid consuming during pregnancy, simply make sure that none of the previously mentioned brand names show on the sweetener container.
There are many types of sweeteners on the market. They are found in pre-packaged foods and beverages: “diet” soft drinks, chewing gum, canned fruit in water, sugar-free flavoured yogurt, etc. They can also be found in small bags in granulated form.
The table below presents the different types of sweeteners allowed during pregnancy
|Sweetener name||Brand name|
|Sugar alcohols: lactitol, xylitol maltitol, polydextrose, mannitol, isomalt, polyol, sorbitol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, sugar polyol alcohol syrups|
|Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)|
The major role of sweeteners is to give a sweet taste without added sugar or calories. It should be noted that sugar alcohol sweeteners contain a few calories. Sweeteners are mostly used by diabetics. For pregnant women with gestational diabetes, it can be interesting to consume certain products made with a sugar substitute.
Diabetes Quebec mentions that acesulfame K, aspartame and sucralose sweeteners are acceptable during pregnancy.
Although sweeteners are considered safe, they still should be consumed in moderation for the following reasons:
- Foods containing sweeteners are often less nutritious. Furthermore, products with sweeteners are often used for weight management (weight loss) since they are low in energy. But during pregnancy, weight gain is targeted for optimal foetal growth.
- Sweeteners nurture the taste for sweetness.
- Some sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, can cause gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating.
- Frequent consumption of sweeteners during pregnancy is associated with risks of excess weight during the child’s first years.
That being said, sweeteners should not replace foods or beverages that provide a good source of energy and provide important nutrients for the baby’s health; this is true for all pregnant women. For pregnant women without gestational diabetes, it is best to consume the “regular” version of foods instead of the “diet” version that contains sweeteners.