Sweeteners What types are there and which one to choose?
What are sweeteners?
A sweetener , is a substance that adds sweetness to food or beverages, and that its origin can be natural or artificial. According to the Rae: it is “the substance that sweetens food or medicine.” We are going to focus on the food section.
In recent years, the variety of sweeteners available on the market has increased, especially those with low caloric or non-caloric value due to the rejection of sugar and growing awareness. The need to continue adding sweetness to our dishes, drinks, coffee, infusions, desserts, etc. has not decreased. Consumers have tried to find ways to achieve flavors similar to sugar, but without their negative aspects.
Most low-calorie sweeteners are artificial .
How can we classify sweeteners according to their origin?
They are made, as their name indicates, in an artificial way with a molecular structure very similar to those of conventional sugar.
Saccharin or E954
It is the first artificial sweetener that was created and launched on the market in 1879. It has no calories or carbohydrates in its composition. It has the power to sweeten 300 times the capacity of sugar.
It is produced from derivatives of phthalic anhydride and toluene.
It was banned during the 70s because a study carried out in rats showed that it caused bladder cancer in rats, although years later it was denied and it was discovered that it was not possible in humans. This had an impact on its sales and was what began to favor the use of other sweeteners such as Stevia.
Although it is popularly believed that it does not produce insulin peaks, its consumption such as sugar, if it has this effect on the body, although to a lesser extent.
It is used in food and medicine when sugar is not recommended.
Sucralose or E 955
It is an e artificial sweetener without caloric intake with the ability to sweeten between 500 and 600 times more than conventional sugar. It is obtained from sucrose. It was discovered in 1976
It does not alter glucose or insulin. It is one of the safest sweeteners for human consumption. It is suitable for diabetics.
Acesulfame K or E 950
It is an e artificial sweetener l that It was discovered in 1967. It has no calories.
Its main uses are in the food industry, in the manufacture of drinks such as juices and zero or light soft drinks. It is usually combined to avoid a slight bitterness with another sweetener called aspartame . At present, it is used in the composition of more than 4000 products in more than 90 countries. There is a great diversity of studies that have proven and affirmed its safety for human consumption.
It has a sweetening capacity 200 times greater than conventional sugar. It is made from a process that transforms acetic acid and combines with potassium to form this sweetener .
Apartamo or E 951
It is a artificial sweetener that does not provide any caloric value and has the ability to sweeten 150 times more than conventional sugar. It was discovered in 1965 in an unexpected way when a doctor named James M. Schlatter spilled a substance in which he worked to treat possible ulcers on his hands and when he cleaned himself by bringing his hand to his mouth, he found that it was a sweet taste. Currently it is legal in more than 100 countries for human consumption.
Its composition: it is made up of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
Its use is mainly given in light drinks and soft drinks, medicines, gum and other products without calories that we can find in the market.
In 2015 there was some controversy due to several studies that affirmed that it was not healthy, although they were rejected due to flaws in the methodology at the time of its implementation. Its publication had an impact on many consumers, so various brands chose to eliminate it from their products and replace it with another type of sweetener.
Cyclamate or E 952
It is a non-caloric sweetener that was discovered in 1937, being the second oldest artificial sweetener behind saccharin.
It has a sweetening capacity between 30 and 40 times greater than that of conventional sugar.
It is one of the sweeteners on the table most used and is usually combined with saccharin. It is also used in the food industry.
The Fao and the WHO endorse its use without damaging or being harmful to health in more than 100 different countries. Due to some controversy in 1970 in the USA it was banned due to a study carried out on 240 rats that ended in the presence of cancer in some of these animals. The result cannot be extrapolated to humans, so data with sufficient relevance and veracity are not considered to prove this fact.
It is a natural monosaccharide that is present in honey and fruits. They have the same caloric value as traditional sugar. It is sweeter than other natural caloric sweeteners .
According to research conducted in 2017, the consumption of excessive amounts of fructose is associated with possible insulin resistance and not inducing satiety, increased intake of other foods.
Stevia or E 960
It is a sweetener which comes from a South American plant called Stevia Rebaudiana which is characterized by the sweetness of its leaves. It does not provide calories or carbohydrates when consumed.
It is safe for human consumption and its potential for toxicity is relatively low. In addition, it does not raise insulin levels.
Stevia extract produces steviol glycosides , responsible for its sweet taste. It has a sweetening power 300 times greater than sugar.
Despite having a high content of sugar , provides other nutrients such as enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and polyphenols. You have to moderate its consumption. In small doses it can benefit health. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe.
What happens with polyalcohols?
polyalcohols are not classified as natural or artificial. They are molecules that are found naturally in certain foods and, but have a caloric intake greater than that of artificial sweeteners but less than that of sugar. We will discuss them in depth in future posts.
Which sweetener to choose?
There is no sweetener perfect. We recommend that you choose the one you choose, consume it in moderation since, especially those that do not contain calories, do not mean that they are harmless to health. Remember that the taste can vary from one another.
Keep in mind that its consumption in high amounts can cause stomach upset and laxative effects.