Sunday, 18 March 2018

Sweeteners 101

There are two kinds of sweeteners: non-nutritive and nutritive. Non-nutritive sweeteners are also called high intensity sweeteners as they are used in small amounts instead of sugar. Let's see them!

Non-nutritive sweetener / Relative sweetness
Stevia                                  250
Aspartame                      150-200
Acesulfame Potassium      200
Sodium Ciclamate              30
Neotame(Nutrasweet)       800
Saccharin                          300
Sucralose                          600

Only Stevia is a non-artificial sweetener, being extracted from a plant, all the others are artificial made. They are also heat stable, except the Aspartame, which is not, and for this reason is used mainly for diet beverages. The others can be used in baked good without problem. First artificial sweetener discovered before WW1 was saccharin. Next one, discovered in USA in 1965 was aspartame, which was used largely, even as table top sweetener. But lately in the 90's we witnessed the anti-aspartame craze, and some companies like PepsiCo for example, went with the trend and used sucralose, marketing their drinks as aspartame free. Of course, the taste changed, so three months later they started to use aspartame again.  Some interesting facts, there is a direct link between using sweeteners and gaining weight, but no causality established. According to the research, replacing added sugar with sweeteners may result in lower energy and reduced body weight, there were few small studies, but no clear conclusion was drawn. The idea is that you should not have extra drinks or food just because is diet, because this is how you gain weight.

The second category is called nutritive sweeteners, also known as sugar alcohols. Their energy value is between 1.6-3kcal/gram (sugar -4kcal/gram) and their sweetness is slightly lower than sugar.

Nutritive sweetener / Relative sweetness
Sorbitol                       0.6
Maltitol                       0.9
Xylitol                         1
Lactitol                       0.4
Manitol                       0.5

They are used in sugar free gum (preventing tooth decay) and as sugar alternative in sweets for diabetics (smaller increase in blood sugar response, but also a laxative effect in high doses).

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