Sugar substitutes are any substances that mimic the taste and texture that sugar gives to food and drinks, but with reduced calories and carbohydrates. They can be made from both artificial and natural ingredients. Sugar substitutes can be consumed by diabetics as a means to safely provide a sweet taste without increasing blood sugar levels, according to the American Diabetes Association, but they should still be used sparingly because they offer little to no nutritional value.
One of the most common sugar substitutes used in foods and beverages is aspartame, states the Mayo Clinic. Aspartame is a product engineered from aspartic acid, a substance found in some plants, along with additional stabilizing chemicals to prevent decomposition. The artificial sweetener's chemical composition cannot withstand heat, so it is not used in products that require cooking; however, it is a substitute in sugar-free versions of items such as soda, pudding, ice cream, yogurt and gelatin. Two brand-name aspartame sweeteners are Equal and NutraSweet.
Another sugar substitute that is as widely used as aspartame is saccharin, reports the American Diabetes Association. Saccharin is used in the brand name sugar substitutes SugarTwin and Sweet 'N Low. It is the result of combining acids, such as nitrous acid and anthranilic acid, with other chemicals that can mimic the sweet flavor of natural sugar. The product does not have one definite chemical compound and can be achieved with different combinations of acids and chemicals. Unlike aspartame, saccharin can handle hot temperatures and can be used in place of sugar in baking. It is also added to soft drinks, frozen desserts and commercial baked goods.
Sucralose, more commonly referred to by its brand name Splenda, is the only sugar substitute product on the market that is actually derived from sugar and not made from artificial chemicals in a laboratory, according to the American Diabetes Association. The exact chemical process for sucralose is trademarked, but the chemists who make sucralose are thought to remove compounds in natural sugar molecules to prevent it from turning into granulated sugar compounds. The end product is a substitute that is sweet but does not have any calories. Sucralose is acceptable for both hot and cool temperatures and can be used in place of sugar in any sweet beverages or food items.
Acesulfame potassium, also known as ace K, is a sugar substitute that is primarily made by chemically altering potassium into a white powdered form with a sweet taste. Although acesulfame potassium has a sweeter taste than sugar, it is usually one of the least sweet out of the four most commonly used sugar substitutes, states the Mayo Clinic. When acesulfame potassium is used in soft drinks, it is often combined with sweeter sugar substitutes (such as aspartame) to produce a more mild, less overwhelming taste for people who do not like the high level of sweetness from other sugar substitutes but who may find acesulfame potassium too bland on its own.
- Photo Credit sweet image by martini from Fotolia.com
List of Natural Cane Sugar Substitutes
Finding a healthy alternative to cane sugar is easier than you might think. Most people know only of the artificial sugar substitutes...
What Substances Are Produced by Photosynthesis?
While animals and fungus get energy secondhand, by digesting the remains of animals or plants, plants use a process called photosynthesis to...