For those wanting to shed a few extra kilos, cutting down on sugar is fast becoming a popular option. Many people are instead getting their sugar fix from artificial sweeteners such as Equal and NutraSweet.

Made primarily from a chemical substance called ‘aspartame’, artificial sweeteners are intense sweeteners which offer virtually zero calories, and which don’t elevate blood sugar levels like regular sugar does.

However many have started to question the nutritional value of these products, with a great deal of hoax claims over the years promoting that aspartame causes seizures, or even cancer. These have been discounted, and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand recognise artificial sweeteners as safe.

But are they really the better option with regards to your health? Is regular sugar really the poison that some health practitioners claim it to be?

Kate Gudorf, accredited dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, doesn’t believe so, thinking instead that eaten in moderation, sugar is fine.

“So in the grand scheme of things is sugar poison? No, but are there better choices? Absolutely,” she said.

Ms Gudorf believes that neither artificial sweeteners nor sugar offers better nutritional value, as overall diet has a much greater impact on health and weightloss. She thinks it’s entirely possible for someone to only use artificial sweeteners which are zero calories, but to be ingesting a huge amount of calories from other food sources.

“It’s a case of calories in versus calories out, and if somebody is accounting for the calories that they’re getting from sugar but not from other sources, they’ll be missing a great deal.”

Ms Gudorf instead believes moderation is the real key to good health and weight loss.

“Unfortunately moderation is not sexy and it doesn’t sell, but when people can take a moderate approach to their diet that’s when they’re most successful.”

Low sugar or entirely sugar-free diets have become increasingly popular in the last year, and Ms Gudorf poses caution with extreme diets such as these.

“I think people are more successful when they’re given something realistic, and realistic would be yes a little bit of sugar in an everyday healthy diet,” she said.

“I think any fad diet is offering a quick fix, and I think slow and steady wins the race. A moderate approach to diet is going to be more sustainable, and at the end of the day consistency is the key when it comes to long term weight loss”