Sweet nothings not all sweeteners are equal.The artificial sweetener artificial sweetener: see sweetener, artificial. business must be a pretty good place to be these days. Thanks to the obesity epidemic, a growing number of people are trying to cut calories. That means more "diet" this and "no-sugar-added" that. And the low-carb craze has left food manufacturers scrambling to be the first on their block to take the sugar out of everything from chocolate to ketchup to Bloody Mary mix.
The result? We're eating more low-calorie sweeteners than ever before.
Yet not all sugar substitutes are Equal, so to speak.
* Sucralose sucralose: see sweetener, artificial. and neotame are safe.
* Sugar alcohols and tagatose, while safe, may give you the runs if you eat too much.
* Aspartame aspartame: see sweetener, artificial.
Synthetic organic compound (a dipeptide) of phenylalanine and aspartic acid. It is 150–200 times as sweet as cane sugar and is used as a nonnutritive tabletop sweetener and in low-calorie probably is safe.
* Acesulfame and stevia Noun 1. stevia - any plant of the genus Stevia or the closely related genus Piqueria having glutinous foliage and white or purplish flowers; Central and South America
genus Stevia - genus of shrubs and herbs of tropical and warm Americas may or may not be safe; there's not enough good research to tell.
* Saccharin saccharin (săk`ərĭn), C7H5NSO3, white, crystalline, aromatic compound. It was discovered accidentally by I. Remsen and C. Fahlberg in 1879. Pure saccharin tastes several hundred times as sweet as sugar. isn't safe (though the risk is small).
If you drink diet soda The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page. or chew gum (sugarless or regular), you'll have a hard time avoiding aspartame and acesulfame. And if you're a fan of "light" yogurt, you'll be getting either aspartame or sucralose.
That's because manufacturers choose sugar substitutes depending on the food. Some are used in baked goods because they withstand heat better. Some are used in yogurt because they can survive in an acidic acidic /acid·ic/ (ah-sid´ik) of or pertaining to an acid; acid-forming.
adj having the properties of an acid; acid-forming properties. environment. Some lose their sweetness in the syrup used to make fountain sodas, but are fine for bottled or canned soft drinks.
Just keep in mind that even an unsafe sweetener Sweetener
A special feature added to a debt obligation or preferred stock to promote marketability.
Warrants and convertibles are two popular sweeteners.
See also: Convertible Bond, Kicker, Warrant
Sweetener like saccharin poses only a tiny risk to any given person. The potential problems arise when tens of millions of people consume the sweetener for years. That's why the government should require better studies on some sweeteners and should ban others.
And remember: real sugar is hardly a toxic chemical Any chemical which, through its chemical action on life processes, can cause death, temporary incapacitation, or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced . The problem is the large amounts that Americans eat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has suggested a limit of ten teaspoons of added sugars per day for people who eat a 2,000-calorie diet. That's 40 grams, about as much as you'd get from one 12-ounce soft drink or two six-ounce fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts.
Here's a scorecard showing which artificial sweeteners are safe ... and which are questionable. With that in hand, you can check our "Sweet vs. Sweet" chart (p. 11) to see which sweeteners are in which foods.
Also known as: Splenda.
What is it? Sugar (sucrose) chemically combined with chlorine. Its "made from sugar" label slogan is technically true, but misleading.
Why it's low-calorie: Our bodies can't burn sucralose for energy.
Safety: Sucralose passed all safety tests in animal studies.
Comments: There is no reason to suspect that sucralose causes any harm.
What is it? A synthetic derivative of a combination of aspartic acid aspartic acid (əspär`tĭk), organic compound, one of the 20 amino acids commonly found in animal proteins. Only the l-stereoisomer participates in the biosynthesis of proteins. and phenylalanine phenylalanine (fĕn'əlăl`ənēn'), organic compound, one of the 22 α-amino acids commonly found in animal proteins. Only the l-stereoisomer appears in mammalian protein. , the same two amino acids amino acid (əmē`nō), any one of a class of simple organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and in certain cases sulfur. These compounds are the building blocks of proteins. that are used to make aspartame. The bond between the amino acids is harder to break down than aspartame's, so neotame is more stable.
Why it's low-calorie: Our bodies can't metabolize me·tab·o·lize
1. To subject to metabolism.
2. To produce by metabolism.
3. To undergo change by metabolism.
to subject to or be transformed by metabolism. neotame, and only tiny amounts are needed to sweeten sweet·en
v. sweet·ened, sweet·en·ing, sweet·ens
1. To make sweet or sweeter by adding sugar, honey, saccharin, or another sweet substance.
2. To make more pleasant or agreeable. foods.
Safety: Unlike aspartame, neotame isn't broken down in the body into the amino acid phenylalanine, which is toxic to people with the rare disorder phenyl-ketonuria (PKU PKU: see phenylketonuria. ). Animal and human studies have raised no safety concerns.
Comments: Neotame is so new that it hasn't yet appeared in any foods. It's always possible that once millions of consumers start eating neotame, some people may turn out to be sensitive to it.
Safe, but large amounts can cause diarrhea
Also known as: sorbitol sorbitol /sor·bi·tol/ (sor´bi-tol) a six-carbon sugar alcohol from a variety of fruits, found in lens deposits in diabetes mellitus. , xylitol xylitol /xy·li·tol/ (zi´li-tol) a five-carbon sugar alcohol derived from xylose and as sweet as sucrose; used as a noncariogenic sweetener and also as a sugar substitute in diabetic diets. , mannitol mannitol /man·ni·tol/ (man´i-tol) a sugar alcohol formed by reduction of mannose or fructose and widely distributed in plants and fungi; an osmotic diuretic used to prevent and treat acute renal failure, to promote excretion of toxic , maltitol, lactitol, isomalt, erythritol erythritol
the sugar present in high concentration in the genital tract of the male and the pregnant female and enhances the growth of Brucella abortus, which preferentially utilizes erythritol. , hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.
What are they? Sugar alcohols aren't sugar and won't make you tipsy. They're made by adding hydrogen atoms to sugars. For example, adding hydrogen to glucose makes sorbitol.
Why they're low-calorie: Some sugar alcohols are absorbed better than others. Erythritol, which is largely unabsorbed, has virtually no calories, while maltitol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates are absorbed enough to provide three-quarters the calories of sugar.
Safety: Too much sugar alcohol traveling unabsorbed through the intestinal tract can cause bloating bloating Vox populi A lay term for post-prandial abdominal fullness or swelling , gas, and diarrhea. Unfortunately, the FDA FDA
Food and Drug Administration
n.pr See Food and Drug Administration.
n.pr the abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration. only requires a "laxative laxative, drug or other substance used to stimulate the action of the intestines in eliminating waste from the body. The term laxative usually refers to a mild-acting substance; substances of increasingly drastic action are known as cathartics, purgatives, effect" warning notice on labels if consumers could ingest in·gest
tr.v. in·gest·ed, in·gest·ing, in·gests
1. To take into the body by the mouth for digestion or absorption. See Synonyms at eat.
2. 50 grams of sorbitol or 20 grams of mannitol from the food in a day. But just 10 grams of sorbitol, for example, can cause GI distress. (If sugar alcohols have made you sick, send a letter to CSPI--JE, Suite 300, 1875 Conn. Ave. N.W., Washington DC 20009. We'll forward it to the FDA.)
Comments: Sugar alcohols don't raise blood sugar as rapidly as sugar does, yet they're as bulky as sugar. So they can be used tablespoon-for-tablespoon to replace the sugar that's been removed from lower-carb foods. But while they may have a minimal impact on your blood sugar, they may have more than a minimal impact on your waistline and hips.
Also known as: Naturlose.
What is it? A "mirror-image" form of sugar that's manufactured from milk sugar (lactose).
Why it's low-calorie: Unlike sugar, tagatose can't be digested by enzymes in the intestines. Most passes through the body unabsorbed. Safety: Because tagatose isn't well-absorbed, consuming large amounts can cause flatulence flatulence /flat·u·lence/ (flat´u-lens) excessive formation of gases in the stomach or intestine.
flat·u·lence or flat·u·len·cy
The presence of excessive gas in the digestive tract. , rumbling noises, bloating, and nausea. Studies have raised no other safety concerns.
Comments: Tagatose is so new that you're only likely to find it in one food--Diet Pepsi Slurpees sold at 7-Eleven.
Probably safe, but certain people should avoid
Also known as: Equal, NutraSweet, NatraTaste.
What is it? A synthetic derivative of a combination of the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
Why it's low-calorie: Only tiny amounts of aspartame are needed to sweeten foods.
Safety: People with the rare disorder phenylketonuria phenylketonuria (fĕn'əlkēt'ənr`ēə) (PKU), inherited metabolic disorder caused by the absence of a specific enzyme (phenylalanine hydroxylase). (PKU) can't metabolize phenylalanine, so they should avoid aspartame.
Whether aspartame causes headaches is unclear. An industry-funded study of people who complained of aspartame-induced headaches concluded that it doesn't. But an independent test in 1994 of 26 similar people found that the sweetener was linked to symptoms in the 11 who were "very sure" they were sensitive. That suggests that some people react to aspartame, though fewer than the number who believe they do.
The most serious charge--that aspartame increases the risk of cancer--has never been proved. Among the many animal studies on aspartame, only one hints at an increased risk.
There's no foundation to claims floating around the Internet that aspartame causes everything from Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease (ăls`hī'mərz, ôls–), degenerative disease of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex that leads to atrophy of the brain and senile dementia. to multiple sclerosis.
Comments: Clouds hang over both aspartame and acesulfame, but researchers have done more--and better--studies on aspartame. Even so, because aspartame is used in so many foods, the FDA should err on the side of caution and require non-industry-funded studies to resolve any questions about aspartame's safety.
People who believe they suffer from headaches or other symptoms after consuming foods that contain aspartame should avoid the sweetener.
Also known as: Sweet One, Sunett, acesulfame potassium Acesulfame potassium is a calorie-free artificial sweetener, also known as Acesulfame K or Ace K (K being the symbol for potassium), and marketed under the trade names Sunett and Sweet One. .
What is it? A synthetic chemical.
Why it's low-calorie: Our bodies can't metabolize acesulfame.
Safety: The safety of acesulfame (pronounced ace-SULL-fame) rests on three animal studies conducted in the mid-1970s. The first was inconclusive because it found a variety of tumors both in mice fed acesulfame and in control mice fed acesulfame-free diets. The second was so plagued with sick animals that the FDA tossed out the results as unreliable.
In the third study, female rats fed acesulfame were twice as likely to develop breast tumors as control rats. While most of the tumors were benign, there were some malignant tumors--one in the 60 control rats, two in the 60 rats given low doses of acesulfame, and three in the 60 rats given high doses of acesulfame. The sweetener's manufacturer argued that acesulfame seemed to cause more tumors only because the control rats happened to remain unusually tumor-free. The FDA bought the company's interpretation and refused to require more safety testing.
Comments: Acesulfame should be better tested. Until then, try to avoid it.
Also known as: Sweet Leaf (Bot.) horse sugar. See under Horse.
See also: Sweet , Honey Leaf.
What Is it? An extract from a shrub shrub, any woody, perennial, bushy plant that branches into several stems or trunks at the base and is smaller than a tree. Shrubs are an important feature of permanent landscape planting, being used for formal decorative groups, hedges, screens, and background that grows in Brazil and Paraguay.
Why it's low-calorie: Our bodies can't metabolize stevia.
Safety: When male rats were fed high doses of stevioside (stevia's active ingredient An active ingredient, also active pharmaceutical ingredient (or API), is the substance in a drug that is pharmaceutically active. Some medications may contain more than one active ingredient. ) for 22 months, they produced fewer sperm and there was increased cell proliferation proliferation /pro·lif·er·a·tion/ (pro-lif?er-a´shun) the reproduction or multiplication of similar forms, especially of cells.prolif´erativeprolif´erous
n. in their testicles Testicles
Also called testes or gonads, they are part of the male reproductive system, and are located beneath the penis in the scrotum.
Mentioned in: Testicular Cancer, Testicular Surgery, Vasectomy , which could cause infertility infertility, inability to conceive or carry a child to delivery. The term is usually limited to situations where the couple has had intercourse regularly for one year without using birth control. . And when female hamsters were fed large amounts of a derivative of stevioside, they had fewer and smaller offspring. That--combined with the absence of other animal studies that are normally required for food additives--led the FDA, Health Canada Health Canada (French: Santé Canada) is the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for national public health.
Health Canada's goal is to improve Canadian life by improving Canadian longevity, lifestyle and use of public healthcare. , the European Union European Union (EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the
European Community , and the World Health Organization to conclude that stevia shouldn't be allowed in food.
Comments: Stevia can't be used as an ingredient in food. But it can be sold as a supplement, since safety rules for supplements are looser than for foods. Stevia is promoted by the health-food industry as a natural alternative to synthetic sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. But "natural" doesn't automatically mean "safe."
Also known as: Sweet 'N Low.
What is it? A synthetic chemical that was discovered in 1879 when a researcher at Johns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins University, mainly at Baltimore, Md. Johns Hopkins in 1867 had a group of his associates incorporated as the trustees of a university and a hospital, endowing each with $3.5 million. Daniel C. in Baltimore noticed that a compound he spilled on his hand tasted sweet.
Why it's low-calorie: Our bodies can't metabolize saccharin, and only tiny amounts are needed to sweeten foods.
Safety: In 1977, the FDA tried to ban saccharin because animal studies showed that it caused cancer of the bladder, uterus, ovaries Ovaries
The female sex organs that make eggs and female hormones.
Mentioned in: Choriocarcinoma
ovaries (ō´v , skin, and other organs. Bowing to pressure from the diet-food industry and dieters, Congress intervened to keep saccharin on the market, though with a warning notice on the label. (At the time, saccharin was the only high-potency sweetener.)
In the late 1990s, the Calorie Control Council--which represents the low-calorie food and beverage F&B is a common abbreviation in the United States and Commonwealth countries, including Hong Kong. F&B is typically the widely accepted abbreviation for "Food and Beverage," which is the sector/industry that specializes in the conceptualization, the making of, and delivery of foods. industry--convinced the FDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH "Not invented here." See digispeak.
NIH - The United States National Institutes of Health. ) that the main health concern about saccharin was bladder cancer bladder cancer
Malignant tumour of the bladder. The most significant risk factor associated with bladder cancer is smoking. Exposure to chemicals called arylamines, which are used in the leather, rubber, printing, and textiles industries, is another risk factor. in male rats, but that people didn't develop bladder cancer through the same mechanism as the rats. In 2000, over the objections of a number of scientists, the NIH removed saccharin from its list of carcinogens Carcinogens
Substances in the environment that cause cancer, presumably by inducing mutations, with prolonged exposure.
Mentioned in: Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer and Congress removed the requirement for warning notices.
Yet last year the National Cancer Institute noted that one of its own studies--the best human study of saccharin use ever done--had found "some evidence of an increased risk of bladder cancer" in heavy saccharin users, "particularly for those who heavily ingested in·gest
tr.v. in·gest·ed, in·gest·ing, in·gests
1. To take into the body by the mouth for digestion or absorption. See Synonyms at eat.
2. the sweetener as a table top sweetener or through diet sodas." "Heavy" meant "six or more servings of sugar substitute or two or more eight-ounce servings of diet drink daily."
Comments: Just because saccharin no longer carries a warning doesn't erase the evidence that it may cause cancer in humans.
Sweet vs. Sweet
Don't expect the same sugar substitutes in all light yogurts, all no-sugar-added ice creams, all diet soft drinks, or all gums. Ingredients vary from brand to brand, and sometimes from flavor to flavor. While you should always read food labels before buying, here's a little crib sheet that you can take to the store with you.
Sweet vs. Sweet Sugar Frozen Desserts Sucralose Alcohols Tagatose Atkins Endulge Ice Cream (1) * * Baskin Robbins No Sugar Added Ice * Cream (1) Baskin Robbins Truly Free Frozen * Yogurt (1) Ben & Jerry's Carb Karma Ice * * Cream (1) Ben & Jerry's No Sugar Added Ice * * Cream (1) Breyers Carb Smart Ice Cream (1) * * Breyers No Sugar Added Ice * Cream (1) Carb Solutions Ice Cream (1) * * Edy's or Dreyer's No Sugar Added * * Ice Cream (1) Eskimo Pie No Sugar Added Reduced * Fat Vanilla Ice Cream Bars Healthy Choice No Sugar Added Ice * Cream, except Chocolate Fudge Brownie (1) Healthy Choice No Sugar Added * Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream Klondike Carb Smart Fudge or Ice * * Cream Bar Klondike Reduced Fat & Calorie No * Sugar Added Slim-a-Bear TCBY No Sugar Added Nonfat Frozen * Yogurt (1) Weight Watchers Smart Ones Reduced * * Fat Ice Cream Yogurt Breyers Light Fat Free Yogurt (1) Dannon Light 'n Fit Carb Control * Yogurt (1) Dannon Light 'n Fit Yogurt (1) Yoplait Light Fat Free Yogurt (1) Soda 7-Eleven Diet Pepsi Slurpee * * Diet 7UP or Diet Vanilla Coke Diet Coke (from fountain) Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi Diet Dr Pepper or Diet Mountain Dew Diet Mountain Dew Code Red Diet Pepsi (from fountain) Diet Rite * Fresca, Diet Sierra Mist, or Diet Sprite Pepsi One, Diet Vanilla Pepsi, or Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi TAB Other Drinks Diet Nestea Lemon Tea Diet Snapple, except Apple and Lime Green Tea (1) Diet Snapple, Apple or Lime Green Tea Diet V8 Splash (1) * Folgers Cafe Latte (1) General Foods Sugar Free Fat Free International Coffees (1) Nestle Fat Free or No Sugar Added * Hot Cocoa Mix Ocean Spray Light, except * Cranberry Cocktail (1) Ocean Spray Light Cranberry * Cocktail Swiss Miss Fat Free Hot Cocoa Mix * Tropicana Light 'n Healthy Orange * Juice Cookies & Candy Hershey's Sugar Free Chocolate * * Candy (1) Russell Stover Low Carb Chocolate * * Candy (1) SnackWell's Sugar Free Chocolate * * Chip Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Chocolate * * Sandwich Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Fudge * * Brownie Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Lemon Creme * * Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Oatmeal * * Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Shortbread * * Cookies Miscellaneous Atkins Morning Start Cereal (1) * Fiber One Bran Cereal Log Cabin Sugar Free Syrup * * Smuckers Sugar Free Breakfast * Syrup Smuckers Sugar Free Preserves (1) Sugar Free Jell-O or Jell-O Pudding (1) Gum Dentyne Ice, Eclipse, Extra, * Freedent, Orbit, or Trident (1) Doublemint or Winterfresh Ice Breakers (1) * * Juicy Fruit (original) * Tabletop Sweeteners Equal, NutraSweet, or NatraTaste Splenda * Sweet 'N Low Frozen Desserts Aspartame Acesulfame Saccharin Atkins Endulge Ice Cream (1) Baskin Robbins No Sugar Added Ice * * Cream (1) Baskin Robbins Truly Free Frozen * * Yogurt (1) Ben & Jerry's Carb Karma Ice * Cream (1) Ben & Jerry's No Sugar Added Ice * Cream (1) Breyers Carb Smart Ice Cream (1) * Breyers No Sugar Added Ice * * Cream (1) Carb Solutions Ice Cream (1) Edy's or Dreyer's No Sugar Added * Ice Cream (1) Eskimo Pie No Sugar Added Reduced * Fat Vanilla Ice Cream Bars Healthy Choice No Sugar Added Ice * Cream, except Chocolate Fudge Brownie (1) Healthy Choice No Sugar Added * * Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream Klondike Carb Smart Fudge or Ice * Cream Bar Klondike Reduced Fat & Calorie No * Sugar Added Slim-a-Bear TCBY No Sugar Added Nonfat Frozen * Yogurt (1) Weight Watchers Smart Ones Reduced Fat Ice Cream Yogurt Breyers Light Fat Free Yogurt (1) * Dannon Light 'n Fit Carb Control Yogurt (1) Dannon Light 'n Fit Yogurt (1) * Yoplait Light Fat Free Yogurt (1) * Soda 7-Eleven Diet Pepsi Slurpee Diet 7UP or Diet Vanilla Coke * * Diet Coke (from fountain) * * Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi * Diet Dr Pepper or Diet Mountain * Dew Diet Mountain Dew Code Red * * Diet Pepsi (from fountain) * * Diet Rite * Fresca, Diet Sierra Mist, or Diet * * Sprite Pepsi One, Diet Vanilla Pepsi, or * * Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi TAB * * Other Drinks Diet Nestea Lemon Tea * * Diet Snapple, except Apple and * Lime Green Tea (1) Diet Snapple, Apple or Lime * * Green Tea Diet V8 Splash (1) * Folgers Cafe Latte (1) * * General Foods Sugar Free Fat Free * * International Coffees (1) Nestle Fat Free or No Sugar Added * Hot Cocoa Mix Ocean Spray Light, except Cranberry Cocktail (1) Ocean Spray Light Cranberry * Cocktail Swiss Miss Fat Free Hot Cocoa Mix * Tropicana Light 'n Healthy Orange Juice Cookies & Candy Hershey's Sugar Free Chocolate Candy (1) Russell Stover Low Carb Chocolate Candy (1) SnackWell's Sugar Free Chocolate * Chip Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Chocolate * * Sandwich Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Fudge Brownie Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Lemon Creme * Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Oatmeal Cookies SnackWell's Sugar Free Shortbread Cookies Miscellaneous Atkins Morning Start Cereal (1) Fiber One Bran Cereal * Log Cabin Sugar Free Syrup Smuckers Sugar Free Breakfast * * Syrup Smuckers Sugar Free Preserves (1) * Sugar Free Jell-O or Jell-O * * Pudding (1) Gum Dentyne Ice, Eclipse, Extra, * * Freedent, Orbit, or Trident (1) Doublemint or Winterfresh * * Ice Breakers (1) * * Juicy Fruit (original) * Tabletop Sweeteners Equal, NutraSweet, or NatraTaste * Splenda Sweet 'N Low * (1) entire line. Source: manufacturers. The information for this chart was compiled by Heather Jones.
For the chemical structures of the sweeteners described in this article, see www.cspinet.org/sweetatoms.