A guide to choosing the best sugars, syrups, and sweeteners for you
A guide to choosing the best sugars, syrups, and sweeteners for you
YOUR SWEETENER BUYING GUIDE
By Adriane Campos
• 2023 BUYING GUIDE •
On my quest to discover all zero-calorie artificial sweeteners sold in supermarkets,
I found about 70 products. See the complete list and how they compare.
ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER BRANDS & PRODUCTS
There is A LOT to see here. Scroll down to explore it all or, if you are short on time, make your choice below:
Explore artificial sweeteners in liquid form made with sucralose and saccharin
The food additive Sucralose is made from table sugar in a process that changes its configuration into a compound around 600 times sweeter with no calories.
The food additive Saccharin is a salt around 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar. It provides no calories as it is not metabolized and is excreted in urine. It has noe effect on bood glucose. It may be combined with other sweeteners (such as glucose) or bulking agents (such as maltodextrin) in commercial tabletop sweeteners.
Click the Try it button of each sweetener to be linked to Amazon
where you can read reviews, labels, Q&As, and price.
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Liquid artificial sweeteners are made with sucralose or saccharin. The predominant ingredient is water. Flavors, preservatives, or both are often added to improve taste and maintain freshness. They may contain other ingredients (erythritol or maltodextrin) to mask off-flavors. Syrups contain gums to make them viscous.
- Liquid products are used mainly for sweetening purposes and no other culinary role. They provide no volume and mass to your recipes. They work best in foods that do not require sugars for texture, shelf life, moisture retention, color and aroma.
What's the difference between natural and artificial sweeteners?
According to the Food and Drug Administration's website, natural ingredients are "found in nature and might be manufactured artificially" [Yes, you heard it right...natural sweeteners might be artificially made and I refer to these seemingly-natural ingredients as synthetic sweeteners]. On the other hand, the FDA states that artificial ingredients are "not found in nature and therefore must be artificially produced".
So, in the FDA's view, both synthetic [the seemingly "natural" ones] and artificial sweeteners are manufactured artificially, but one is found in nature and the other is not. Synthetic sweeteners promoted as natural include erythritol, allulose, and xylitol as I discussed in this blog post >>> Natural Sweetener: Not What You Might Think.
Both synthetic and artificial sweeteners go through processes that chemically change or break down components of the starting material. They are produced using sophisticated technology. Read more about it in this post >>> 5 Misconceptions about Natural Sweeteners.
FAQ ABOUT ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
What are artificial sweeteners? Can natural materials be used to make artificial sweeteners? Artificial sweeteners are super sweet ingredients not found in nature. Even if produced from a source material found in nature [such as sucralose, which is made from table sugar] or if their component parts are found in nature [such as aspartame, which is split in our body into 3 components widely found in foods], it does not make them "natural".
What's the benefit of artificial sweeteners? Pure artificial sweeteners (without fillers) are super sweet and calorie-free. Because they are used in a fraction of the weight of sugar, you'll often find them blended with bulk ingredients, which gives them an overall resemblance to table sugar, making them spoonable and pourable. Read all about bulk ingredients here.
What's the difference between pink, yellow, and blue packets? Are they all artificial sweeteners? Yes, sugar substitutes sold in pink, yellow, and blue packets are artificial. The color code is yellow for sucralose, blue for aspartame, and pink for saccharin.
Which artificial sweeteners are approved for use in sugar substitutes?
Six artificial sweeteners are approved in foods in the U.S., but one (advantame) has not been used in sugar substitutes yet. Regulated as food additives, they include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame K, sucralose, and neotame.
Aspartame is the only one approved as a nutritive sweetener as it provides 4 calories per gram. However, it's used in such small amounts that it's effectively non-nutritive.
Saccharin-based products were the first available in stores; the Sweet'N Low brand name has been the most popular. Aspartame–acesulfame K blends were popular for some time but were surpassed by sucralose, which is the most used of all six.
What happens to artificial sweeteners in our body?
Aspartame is rapidly metabolized into two amino acids—aspartic acid and phenylalanine—and methanol. Those organic compounds are available in many common foods. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are found in milk, eggs, meat, and legumes. Methanol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Aspartame should be avoided by people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare disease that results in brain damage if large amounts of phenylalanine are ingested.
Acesulfame is rapidly and completely absorbed in the small intestine but is not metabolized. 99% of the ingested amount is excreted unchanged within 24 hours, mainly through urine.
Most of the saccharin (85 to 95%) is absorbed in the small intestine and is excreted unchanged in the urine. The remaining unabsorbed amount is excreted in feces.
About 85% of the sucralose is not absorbed in the small intestine, passes through the gastrointestinal tract unchanged, being excreted in feces. The remaining amount is absorbed and most of it is excreted unchanged in urine within 24 hours.
Artificial sweeteners offer no bulk to your recipes
Artificial sweeteners in pure form are super sweet—from hundreds to 1000s of times more than table sugar. Because they provide a sweet taste with tiny volume and weight, sugar substitutes often require fillers or bulking agents so they can have an overall resemblance to table sugar. The basic idea is that something is needed to fill in that empty space.... keep reading >>>
As you can see in the sweeteners listed above, maltodextrin and glucose are the most commonly used fillers in artificial sweeteners. Others include lactose, erythritol, xylitol and tagatose.
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