There are two types of sweeteners:
- Caloric (nutritive)
- Noncaloric (non-nutritive)
The caloric sweeteners provide 4 calories per gram. The noncaloric varieties provide zero.
Caloric sweeteners provide sweet flavor and bulk when added to food. They also maintain freshness and contribute to product quality. Caloric sweeteners act as a preservative in jams and jellies, and a flavor enhancer in processed meats. They provide fermentation for breads and pickles, bulk to ice cream, and body to carbonated beverages. Some caloric sweeteners are made by processing sugar compounds. Some occur naturally.
Noncaloric sweeteners are used in place of caloric sweeteners in some cases. They do not provide calories, but they do provide the sweet taste. All noncaloric sweeteners are chemically processed.
- Confectioner's sugar (also known as powdered sugar) is finely ground sucrose.
- Corn sweeteners are sugars obtained from corn (for example, corn syrup). Corn syrup is used frequently in carbonated beverages, baked goods, and some canned products. It is a liquid that is a combination of maltose, glucose, and dextrose.
- Dextrose is glucose combined with water.
- Invert sugar is a sugar that is made by dividing sucrose into its two parts: glucose and fructose. Sweeter than sucrose and used in a liquid form, invert sugar helps in maintaining the sweetness of candies and baked items.
- Sucrose includes raw sugar, granulated sugar, brown sugar, confectioner's sugar, and turbinado sugar. It is made up of glucose and fructose. It is made by concentrating sugar beet juice and or sugar cane.
- Turbinado sugar is unrefined sugar made from sugar cane juice.
- Raw sugar is granulated, solid, or coarse, and is brown in color. It is obtained by the evaporation of the moisture from the juice of the sugar cane.
- Brown sugar is made from the sugar crystals obtained from molasses syrup.
- Fructose is the naturally occurring sugar in all fruits. It is also called levulose or fruit sugar.
- Glucose is found in fruits but in limited amounts. It is also a syrup made from corn starch.
- Honey is a combination of fructose, glucose, and water, produced by bees.
- Lactose (milk sugar) is the carbohydrate that is in milk. It is made up of glucose and galactose.
- Maltose (malt sugar) is produced during the process of fermentation. It is found in beer and in breads.
- Mannitol is a byproduct of alcohol production but does not contain any alcohol. It may have a laxative effect when eaten in large quantities. It is used in dietetic food products because it has half the calories of sugar and is no well absorbed by the body.
- Maple sugar is obtained from the sap of maple trees. It is made up of sucrose, fructose, and glucose.
- Molasses is obtained from the residue of sugar cane processing.
- Sorbitol is used in many dietetic food products. It is produced from glucose and it is also found naturally in certain berries and fruits. It is absorbed by the body at a much slower rate than sugar.
- Aspartame is a combination of phenylalanine and aspartic acid, which are two amino acids. It is also known by the brand names Equal and Nutrasweet. It is 180 - 220 times sweeter than sugar.
- Acesulfame K is an artificial sweetener, also known as Sunett. It is heat stable and can be used in cooking and baking. It is also available as a tabletop sweetener, marketed under the name Sweet One. It is FDA approved and is used in combination with other sweeteners such as saccharin in carbonated low-calorie beverages and other products.
- Cyclamates are 30 times sweeter than sugar. They are banned in the United States because in 1970 they were shown to have caused bladder cancer in animals.
- Saccharin is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It is used in several dietetic food and beverage products.
- Sucralose (Splenda) is an artificial sweetener made from sugar. It is 600 times sweeter than sugar. It is heat stable and can be used in baking. It is used in many dietetic food and beverage products.
Sugar provides calories and no other nutrients. There is a concern that sugar or caloric sweeteners can cause tooth decay. Drinking a large amounts of sugar-containing beverages is also associated with obesity in children.
A high intake of sugar does not cause diabetes, but if you are diagnosed with diabetes the amount of simple sugar you eat often needs to be reduced.
People have reported side effects from eating aspartame, but this has not been proven through scientific studies.
Sugar is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) list of safe foods. It contains 16 calories per teaspoon and can be used in moderation. All of the various types of sugars described earlier can be used in moderation.
The artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesulfame K , and sucralose are all FDA approved.
Saccarin was removed from the National Toxicology Program's list of cancer-causing substances in May 2000.
Reviewed By: Alice O'Connor, MS, RD, LDN, CNSD, Clinical Dietitian, Baystate Medical Center, Department of Food and Nutrition Services, Springfield, MA and Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD, family physician specializing in nutrition, fitness, and preventive health, St. John's Mercy Medical Center, St. Louis, MO, and Assistant Clinical Professor, St. Louis University's School of Medicine, Department of Community and Family Medicine. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.