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Types of Sweeteners and Effects of Artificial Sweeteners in Food

Sweeteners are mainly of two types – artificial sweeteners (non-caloric) or nutritive (caloric) sweeteners. Nutritive sweeteners provide 4 calories per gram. Artificial sweetener or sugar substitute is calorie free but provide the sweetness of sugar. They are many times sweeter than sugar, thus a small quantity is enough to equate large quantities of sugar. They also improve the quality of a product (by acting as a preservative), maintain freshness, provide a base for fermentation for breads, add bulk and body to ice creams and carbonated beverages and enhance flavor of the product.  Some artificial sweeteners are processed chemically, but some like sucralose are made from sugar molecule itself.
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Sugar provides 4 calories per gram and most people consume in large quantities as a part of their daily diet. When consumed in large quantities sugar adds up more calories and is converted to fat which in turn causes weight gain. As artificial sweeteners provide zero calories it is used by many individuals to have control over their weight or used as a part of weight loss plan. Artificial sweeteners provide the sweetness of sugar without raising blood sugar levels, thus it is beneficial for people with diabetes.

Food source of caloric sweeteners include corn sweeteners, confectioners sugar, dextrose, invert sugar (made by processing sucrose to form glucose and fructose), natural sweetener or sugar, turbinado sugar, sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose, mannitol, maple sugar, molasses, honey and sorbitol.

Artificial Sweeteners - Low Calorie Sweeteners

Examples for artificial sweeteners include

  1. Aspartame (combination of two amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine) is 180-220 times sweeter than sugar.
  2. Saccharine is the first artificial sweetener and 300 times sweeter than sugar.
  3. Cyclamates 30 times sweeter than sugar, but some studies showed that it causes bladder cancer in animals, thus is banned in U.S.
  4. Acesulfame K mainly used in combination with other sweeteners.
  5. Sucralose a low calorie sweetener made from sugar and is 600 times sweeter than sugar.
All the artificial sweeteners are stable to heat and can be used in cooking and baking except aspartame.  

There are various studies conducted to assess the safety of artificial sweeteners due to the concerns of it being carcinogenic and causing other health problems. But all the studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are safe to use for healthy population. However people with phenylketonuria (PKU) should use aspartame with caution as they can not metabolize it.

One should keep in mind that a sugar free product does not mean a caloric free product. For example just substituting sugar with artificial sweetener in cakes and chocolates does not make them fat free or calorie free. Thus sweeteners should be used sensibly for instance it is a good idea to replace regular soda with diet soda, but the latter should not be the only drink you consume.

Why Is Sucralose Calorie Free?

Sucralose is a zero calorie sugar substitute and is used as an artificial sweetener. Sucralose facts include the fact that it has no calories but yet provides the sweetness of sugar. Sucralose is also about 600 times sweeter than sugar. Sucralose facts also include it being non toxic, it having no effects on the serum insulin levels or blood glucose levels. It is therefore suitable for diabetic patients. Research has shown that calorie free sucralose is a safe ingredient that can be used in salad dressings, bakery products, ice creams, diet drinks, protein bars, and so on. Nowadays, Sucralose is also used in chewing gum and toothpaste.

What Is The Best Natural Sugar Substitute For Diabetics?

There are many natural sugar substitutes for diabetics available today. In order to avoid spikes in blood glucose levels, diabetics have to avoid foods that contain sugar. Natural sugar substitutes for diabetics include raw honey, pure maple syrup, stevia and agave nectar. Using such sugar substitutes for diabetes is recommended as they are healthier and safer than artificial sweeteners that are freely available in the market as well. As mentioned earlier, honey is among the list of natural sugar substitutes for diabetics. Honey has a lower glycemix index than white sugar. Honey therefore affects the blood sugar levels less than sugar does.
Submitted on January 16, 2014
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