Is the made-from-sugar sugar substitute sucralose as naturally good as Heidi Montag’s ... you name it: front? back? nose? left arm?

Up to now, research on sucralose has been sometimes positive, sometimes not; a few, but not all, studies do indicate that it may trigger weight gain and promote diabetes by making you crave more sweets or by making you think you’re so calorie-sparing that you deserve to eat that wedge of chocolate cake. Now, like the sometimes slippery slope for saccharin (in 1973 the Food and Drug Administration said presumptive evidence showed that it caused cancer in rats; Canada banned it, but it’s still in the U.S. as Sweet’N Low), recent lab tests indicate that use of sucralose might be associated with leukemia. More research will have to be done to see if animal results apply to humans, but a federal stamp of safety does not necessarily mean something is your healthiest option.

So one more time, we’re asking nicely: Contemplate the possibility of giving up artificial sweeteners (and added sugars) in food and drinks. It may be time to retrain your taste buds.

Enjoy flavor-packed, organically grown, well-washed nutrient mega-stars strawberries, blueberries, figs and apples for a taste of sweetness. Add to salads and nonfat, no-sugar-added Greek yogurt, or serve with a spritz of lime juice for dessert.

Want a sweet beverage? Try iced tea with a drop or two of vanilla extract, crushed mint leaves or lemon; iced coffee with cinnamon and nonfat milk.

You CAN find sweetness in real food; your waist and taste buds will say thanks!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to