Artificial sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, are food additives that impart a sweet flavor but no nutritional value. Commonly used in sugar-free and reduced-calorie foods, artificial sugar substitutes vary in taste, level of sweetness and stability when heated. For many diabetics and prediabetics, artificial sugars play an important role in blood sugar control and weight management.
Aspartame consists of two chemically modified amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Aspartame received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 1981, reports the International Food Information Council Foundation. Aspartame is approximately 180 to 200 times sweeter than table sugar. The product loses sweetness with heating. The Calorie Control Council reports that more than 6,000 products marketed around the world contain aspartame, including diet sodas, sugar-free gelatin powders, sugar-free yogurt, nutrition bars, sugar-free frozen desserts and ice creams, and sugarless chewing gum and breath mints.
Neotame is a modified version of aspartame. The artificial sweetener gained FDA approval in 2002. Similar to aspartame, neotame is a chemically modified molecule derived from the amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Neotame is approximately 8,000 times sweeter than table sugar, according to the product manufacturer. Because neotame does not lose sweetness when heated, the additive can be used in baking and cooking. Food manufacturers include neotame in sugar-free beverages, chewing gums and low-calorie nutrition bars. The Center for Science in the Public Interest gives neotame a "safe" rating.
The FDA approved the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame K, in 2003. The body does not break down acesulfame potassium; it passes in the urine chemically unchanged, reports Elmhurst College. Acesulfame K proves approximately 200 times sweeter than table sugar. The product retains sweetness with cooking and baking. Products marketed in the United States that contain acesulfame K include reduced-calorie and sugar-free frozen desserts, baked goods, chewing gums, candies, syrups, sweet toppings and puddings.
First approved by the FDA in 1998, sucralose is a chemically modified form of sugar. Unlike sugar, the body cannot metabolize sucralose for energy. The sweetener passes through the body chemically unchanged, notes Elmhurst College. Sucralose is roughly 600 times sweeter than table sugar and retains its flavor when heated, reports the International Food Information Council Foundation. Products that commonly contain sucralose include reduced-calorie yogurts, juices, syrups, cereals, nutrition bars, puddings, flavored creamers, canned fruits, jellies, jams, candy and diet sodas. The Center for Science in the Public Interest gives sucralose a "safe" rating.
In use for more than 100 years according to Elmhurst College, saccharin is the "granddaddy" of artificial sweeteners. Controversy arose in the 1970s over a possible link between saccharin use and cancer, based on laboratory findings in rats. Subsequent studies in humans, however, found no association between saccharin use and cancer risk, reports the National Cancer Institute. Saccharin is approximately 300 times sweeter than table sugar and retains its flavor during cooking and baking, notes the Calorie Control Council. Products that commonly contain saccharin include reduced-calorie syrups, canned fruit, sweet toppings, chewing gum, candy, jams and jellies, salad dressings and baked goods.
- sweeten coffee image by Radu Razvan from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.