What Is It? Nutritive vs. non-nutritive Sweeteners Sugar Alcohols Side Effects Non-nutritive Sweeteners Saccharin Aspartame Sucralose Acesulfame K Neotame
What Is It? Nutritive vs. non-nutritive Sweeteners Sugar Alcohols Side Effects Non-nutritive Sweeteners Saccharin Aspartame Sucralose Acesulfame K Neotame Center Comments More
Sweeteners are not essential nutrients in our diet, so they exist to nurture our sweet tooth, not our bodies.
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How many people do know who say that they have a “sweet tooth”? Ever hear someone say that they are “addicted” to sugar? Sugar and its role in our diet have, indeed, become a controversial topic. Many have blamed the rise in overweight and obesity in our country on sugar. Our intake of sugar has increased, but so has our intake of artificial sweeteners. Are either or both to blame?
There are few people who can resist the taste of sweet foods. We are born with a preference for sweets, and it remains with us throughout our lives. However, too much of a good thing can lead to problems such as dental cavities, tooth decay, obesity, and the health complications related to being overweight and obese (for example, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, and heart disease). Problems such as osteoporosis and vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also occur when high-sugar foods replace more nutritionally balanced foods.
The dietary guidelines state that we are to choose beverages and foods to moderate our intake of sugars. In the United States, the number-one source of added sugars is non-diet soft drinks (soda or pop). Other major sources are sweets and candies, cakes and cookies, and fruit drinks and fruitage. Limiting your intake of these foods and avoiding foods with high amounts of added sugars is the best way to control your intake. When reading the ingredients on a food label, you must read carefully. Ingredients are listed in order of the amount used in the product. When a product contains a large amount of sugar, it can be hidden in the ingredients by using lots of different kinds of sugar. For example, if the product has 1 cup of sugar and that was the highest ingredient, sugar would be listed as the first ingredient. This can be avoided by using smaller amounts of different sources of sugar and listing them lower in the ingredient list. Here are the most common sources of sugar found on food labels:
Brown sugarDextroseFructoseFruit-juice concentrateGlucoseHoneyInvert sugarLactoseMaltoseMalt syrupMolassesRaw sugarSucroseSyrup
Aspartame Safety Concerns
Aspartame, which has been on the U.S. market since 1981, is composed primarily of two common amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Each of these is also a building block for conventional foods such as protein and natural flavor molecules. Before its FDA approval, the safety of aspartame was tested in over 100 scientific studies.
The safety of our food and what goes in it is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When you read the ingredients on your food labels you, will notice things that are not from your basic food groups. Foods from the food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, and oils) are considered nutritive because they provide nourishment. Products that are added and do not provide any nourishment can be considered non-nutritive.
We like to believe that nothing would be allowed in our food that wasn't considered 100% safe. Unfortunately, this kind of guarantee is not usually possible. In the United States, sweeteners fall under the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list or as food additives under the 1958 Food Additives Amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. According to the FDA, “Regardless of whether the use of a substance is a food additive use or is GRAS, there must be evidence that the substance is safe under the conditions of its intended use. FDA has defined “safe” as a reasonable certainty in the minds of competent scientists that the substance is not harmful under its intended conditions of use. The specific data and information that demonstrate safety depend on the characteristics of the substance, the estimated dietary intake, and the population that will consume the substance.”
The guidelines about what constitutes a sweetener to be on the GRAS list versus being listed as a food additive are as follows:
For a GRAS substance, generally available data and information about the use of the substance are known and accepted widely by qualified experts, and there is a basis to conclude that there is consensus among qualified experts that those data and information establish that the substance is safe under the conditions of its intended use.For a food additive, privately held data and information about the use of the substance are sent by the sponsor to FDA and FDA evaluates those data and information to determine whether they establish that the substance is safe under the conditions of its.
Throughout the remainder of this article, you will learn about the positive and negative sides of the story behind each of the FDA-approved nutritive and non-nutritive sugar substitutes.
QUESTION Which of the items below is not a natural sugar? See Answer
Sugar and sugar alcohols are each considered nutritive sugar substitutes because they provide calories when consumed. Sugar alcohols, or polyols, contain fewer calories than sugar. Sugar provides 4 kcal/gram, and sugar alcohols provide an average of 2 kcal/gram (range from 1.5 kcal/gram to 3 kcal/gram). Contrary to their name, sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols. They are carbohydrates with structures that only resemble sugar and alcohol.
Foods that contain sugar alcohols can be labeled sugar-free because they replace full-calorie sugar sweeteners. Sugar alcohols have been found to be a beneficial substitute for sugar for reducing glycemic response, decreasing dental cavities, and lowering caloric intake.
Sugar alcohols naturally occur in many fruits and vegetables but are most widely consumed in sugar-free and reduced-sugar foods. The sweetness of sugar alcohols varies from 25% to 100% as sweet as table sugar (sucrose). The amount and kind being used will be dependent on the food. The following table lists the details on each of the sugar alcohols.
|Sugar Alcohol||Calories/Gram||Sweetness Compared to Sucrose||Sources|
|Sorbitol||2.6||50% to 70%||Sugar-free hard and soft candies, chewing gum, flavored jam and jelly spreads, frozen foods, and baked goods|
|Mannitol||1.6||50% to 70%||Chewing gum, hard and soft candies, flavored jam and jelly spreads, confections, and frostings|
|Xylitol||2.4||100%||Chewing gum, hard candies, and pharmaceutical products|
|Erythritol||0.2||60% to 80%||Confectionery and baked products, chewing gum, and some beverages|
|Isomalt||2.0||45% to 65%||Hard and soft candies, ice cream, toffee, fudge, lollipops, wafers, and chewing gum|
|Lactitol||2.0||30% to 40%||Chocolate, cookies and cakes, hard and soft candies, and frozen dairy desserts|
|Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH)||3.0||25% to 50%||Sugar-free foods and candies, and low-calorie foods|
|Maltitol||2.1||90%||Sugar-free chocolate, hard candies, chewing gum, baked goods, and ice cream|