Sugar substitute sweeteners
Sweeteners – sugar substitute
Today, there are several alternatives to sugar known as sweeteners or sugar substitute. They are artificially synthesized sugars which are derived from naturally occurring plants such as herbs or even sugar itself. They are also referred to as intense sweeteners because they are very much sweeter than sugar. These sweeteners are very good alternative to sugar because it adds little or no calories to diet. Unlike sugar, only a fraction of sweeteners is required to make drinks sweet compared to sugar which may require a relatively large amount. Because they offer sweetness taste without any calories, sweeteners could be the answer to an effective weight loss.
Importance of artificial sweeteners
There is several importance of replacing sugar with sweeteners. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and American Heart association (AHA) have approved the use of sweeteners to replace sugar to combat diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome and other risk factors for heart disease. The effective use of sweeteners could help reduce the added sugars in diet, and therefore reduce the number of caloric intakes. It is important to note that reducing caloric intake could help achieve and maintain a good body weight, and also reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Health benefits of artificial sweeteners
Prevents tooth decay
Tooth decay or caries occur when the bacteria in the oral cavity (mouth) produces acid by fermenting sugar. This acid is responsible for damaging the enamel of the tooth. Artificial sweeteners cannot be fermented by these bacteria, unlike sugar which is readily fermented. This implies that sweeteners do not cause tooth decay as they are not fermented to produce acid.
According to the European Food Authority, all artificial sweeteners when consumed in place of sugar helps to neutralize acid and prevent tooth decay.
The gold standard in scientific research and randomized controlled studies have reported that the use of artificial sweeteners may reduce fat mass, waist circumference and body weight.
It has been established that eating sweetened foods in place of foods with added sugar may decrease the number of calories consumed each day. Studies revealed that this can lead to a weight loss of up to 1.3kg (2.9 pounds).
Note: If you have diabetes or other medical diagnosis and want to experience better health, you should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners.
List of sweeteners
Stevia, also commonly known as sweet leaf or sugar leaf, is a natural sweetener indigenous to the Amazon. For centuries the Guaraná people of Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia have used fresh stevia leaves to sweeten recipes, teas and medicinal preparations.
Dextrose is another name for glucose, a simple sugar that plays an important role in cellular energy production. Dextrose is actually the primary source of energy for most living organisms.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally present in small amounts in various fruits and vegetables. The Finnish name for Xylitol is “koivusokeri”, or birch sugar, a reference to the extraction of Xylitol from birch bark.
Coconut Palm Sugar
Coconut has long been used as a traditional superfood in many cultures around the world. Coconut palm sugar is one of natures most incredible sweeteners with a much lower glycemic index than conventional sugar, honey or agave.
Erythritol is a wonderfully sweet way to avoid sugar and all of its unwanted calories. Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol derived from non-GMO corn and is about 70% as sweet as sugar without any calories.
Date Sugar is finely chopped dry dates. There’s no processing whatsoever, so you get an unrefined natural sweetener that’s uniquely suited to certain culinary applications.
Also known as “fruit sugar”, Fructose is a simple sugar commonly found in honey, melons, berries, tree fruits, vegetables, and other natural sources. Fructose is the sweetest of all sugar molecules, ranging from 1.2 to 1.75 times sweeter than table sugar.
Lactose is a sugar found in milk and is actually the first carbohydrate you and every other mammal on Earth consumes.
Is Sugar too Bad Afterall?
Depending on the form it is consumed, sugar might not be too bad. Foods that contain sugar in its natural form such as whole fruit tends to be very nutritious, low in glycemic load, high in fiber and nutrient dense. But concentrated and refined sugar on the other hand, when eaten in large quantity rapidly increases blood sugar and insulin levels, oxygen radicals and inflammatory mediators, increases triglycerides, and with these increases, the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. In addition, natural sugars that are present in some fruits are different from added sugars. Vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are some of the packages that comes with natural sugars, and they help in offsetting many of the negative aspect of the sugar content.
Artificial or synthetic sweeteners are used widely in food, dietary products, cosmetics and so on. Eliminating their use is an uphill task. Nevertheless, sweeteners should be used with caution especially with some high-risk individuals like diabetic, pregnant, migraine, lactating women, epileptic patients and even children.
In conclusion, artificial sweeteners pose only a few risks and may even have benefits for dental health, blood glucose control and weight loss. They are beneficial if used to reduce the amount of added sugars in diet. Also, the potential for the negative effects vary, depending on the type of sweetener consumed and the individual. Some persons may experience the negative effects of consuming artificial sweeteners while other persons don’t.