A sugar substitute is a food additive that duplicates the effect of sugar in taste, usually with less food energy. Some sugar substitutes are natural and some are synthetic.
Alternative sweeteners are highly consumed in America. According to research studies explained by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in 2003–2004, Americans two years of age and older consumed 585g per day of beverages and 375g per day of foods with caloric sweeteners. Some commonly consumed foods with alternative sweeteners are diet sodas, cereals, and sugar-free desserts such as ice cream.
In the United States, seven intensely sweet sugar substitutes have been approved for use. They are stevia, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), saccharin, and advantame. The food and beverage industry is increasingly replacing sugar or corn syrup with artificial sweeteners in a range of products traditionally containing sugar.
Aspartame: Aspartame is a methyl ester. More than 6,000 products contain aspartame. It is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose, or table sugar. The FDA reviewed its safety in 2007 and concluded that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a nonnutritive sweetener. However, people with the genetic condition phenylketonuria
PKU cannot ingest it. And pregnant women shouldn’t since they have been linked to premature births. In a study done in 1979, the effect of aspartame ingestion on blood and milk amino acid levels in lactating women was tested and found a small effect on the milk aspartate levels. The consumer advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest continues to promote the position that aspartame is not safe.
Sucralose/Splenda:Splenda is twice as sweet as saccharin and three times as sweet as aspartame. The actual energy content of a single-serving (1-g packet) of Splenda is 3.36 kilocalories, 31% of those of a granulated sugar (10.8 kcal). In the United States, it is legally labelled “zero calories”. Some studies have determined that sucralose is not a biologically inert compound, having possible toxic effects, including creation of dioxin-like compounds when sucralose is heated.
Saccharine: Saccharin was produced first in 1878. It is 300 times as sweet as sucrose or table sugar, but has a bitter or metallic aftertaste, especially at high concentrations. The basic substance is benzoic sulfilimine. Studies have shown saccharine causes bladder cancer is rats, which eventually prompted safety warnings on products containing saccharine. However, in 2001, the FDA reversed its position, declaring it safe for consumption.
Neotame: The chemical formula is similar to aspartame, but it is between 7,000 and 13,000 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). It’s the only artificial sweetener deemed “safe” by the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Truvia: Truvía’s ingredients are erythritol. The calorie-free, low-carb sweetener comes from the shrub-like stevia plant. This sugar substitute is about 100 times sweeter than sugar. The FDA first rejected it in the 1990s for use as a food ingredient. High dosages fed to rats affected reproduction. But in 2008 the FDA granted stevia “GRAS” status, meaning it is “generally recognized as safe.”
Comparison of sweetness based on energy content is not meaningful because many artificial sweeteners have little or no food energy.
|Name||Sweetness (by weight)||Trade name||Approval||Notes|
|Acesulfame potassium||200||Nutrinova||FDA 1988||E950|
|Alitame||2,000||approved in Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and China.||Pfizer|
|Aspartame||160–200||NutraSweet, Equal||FDA 1981, EU-wide 1994||E951|
|Salt of aspartame-acesulfame||350||Twinsweet||E962|
|sodium cyclamate||30||FDA Banned 1969, approved in EU||E952, Abbott|
|Dulcin||250||FDA Banned 1950|
|P-4000||4,000||FDA banned 1950|
|Saccharin||300||Sweet’N Low||FDA 1958||E954|
|Sucralose||600||Kaltame, Splenda||Canada 1991, FDA 1998, EU 2004||E955, Tate & Lyle|
ISSUES WITH CHEMICAL SWEETNERS
Animal studies have indicated that a sweet taste induces an insulin response in rats.
A 2014 study by a collaboration from nine Israeli research institutes presented experimental evidence that artificial sweeteners may exacerbate, rather than prevent, metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes.