Sugar alcohols may cause bloating, gas and diarrhea, and natural sugar substitutes may have the same negative effects as sugar, including tooth decay, weight gain and high cholesterol, according to Mayo Clinic. Honey, a natural sugar substitute, may contain bacterial spores that can release botulism toxins harmful in infants. Despite studies in the 1970s linking artificial sweeteners to bladder cancer, recent research has not shown any negative health effects from consuming them, though they may leave an aftertaste.
Artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, novel sweeteners and natural sweeteners are types of sugar substitutes, explains Mayo Clinic. Artificial sweeteners are intense, synthetic sweeteners made from natural products. They are useful for controlling weight since they contain almost no calories and for diabetics since they do not raise blood sugar.
Sugar alcohols, which are found naturally in some fruits and vegetables, can also be man-made, notes Mayo Clinic. They contain significantly fewer calories than sugar and raise blood sugar levels much less, making them effective for weight loss and suitable sugar substitutes for diabetics.
Natural sweeteners such as honey, nectar, molasses, fruit juice and maple syrup, contrary to popular thought, are very similar to sugar nutritionally and provide no added health benefits, advises Mayo Clinic. Novel sweeteners include stevia, tagatose and trehalose, which are not easily classifiable due to the method of manufacture.