Types of Sweeteners
When it comes two replacing sugar, there are many sweetener options available.
The first distinction to make when choosing a sweetener is whether or not it has nutritional value. Not all sweeteners are zero calories. Some sweeteners have a caloric value and provide energy in the form of carbohydrates. These are called nutritive sweeteners. An example of a nutritive sweetener is honey or agave syrup.
The other type is non-nutritive sweeteners. Non-nutritive sweeteners provide zero or very few calories and have no presence of vitamins and minerals. Most people tend to choose non-nutritive sweeteners over nutritive sweeteners when looking to replace sugar. Some common examples of non-nutritive sweeteners include stevia extract, sucralose, aspartame and more.
The next distinction to make when choosing a sweetener is whether it is artificial or natural.
Artificial sweeteners are sugars which have been chemically modified in a laboratory environment to provide sweetening properties without any caloric value. Some common artificial sweeteners are Sucralose, Saccharin, Acesulfame Potassium, Aspartame, and Cyclamate.
Natural sweeteners on the other hand are found in a variety of plants. Unlike artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners aren’t made with tons of chemicals in a laboratory, they are refined and extracted from plants that grow in the natural environment. Some common natural sweeteners are stevia extract, monk fruit extract, erythritol, inulin and more.
There can be pros and cons to both artificial and natural sweeteners:
Natural Sweetener Pros:
- Non-nutritive – zero calories
- Clean label – natural sweeteners allow you to keep a clean natural product label
- Healthy – natural sweeteners have not been linked to higher risks of disease
- Sustainable – natural sweeteners have a lower environmental impact
- No glycemic impact – natural sweeteners are safe for diabetics
- Lower dental impact
- Aftertastes – some low grade stevia and monk fruit extracts can produce a metallic or licorice aftertastes
- Gastrointestinal distress – some natural sweeteners like erythritol can cause gas and bloating if consumed in excess
- Higher cost – natural sweeteners can be more expensive due to lower availability caused by specific growing conditions.
Artificial Sweetener Pros:
- Non-nutritive – zero calories
- Low cost – artificial sweeteners are cheaper to produce than the natural sweetener alternatives
- Easily made with common ingredients and laboratory materials
- Aftertastes – many artificial have an unpleasant chemical aftertaste
- Health risks – some artificial sweeteners have been linked to higher risks of cancer shown in animal studies
- Gastrointestinal distress – some artificial sweeteners can cause gas and bloating if consumed in excess
- Lack of bulk – artificial sweeteners are commonly more than 300 times sweeter than sugar, meaning you use less and the product’s volume decreases
- Declining demand – consumers are shifting away from artificial sweeteners and more towards natural sugars and sweeteners
When it comes to replacing sugar, the best choice is always going to be using natural sweeteners. Natural sweeteners are far healthier than artificial sweeteners, they allow for a clean label on your product, they are more sustainable with a lower environmental impact and they have not been linked to any diseases in studies.
One of the big downsides of natural sweeteners is that some have metallic, licorice aftertastes. However, with The Sweetener House’s patented encapsulation technology, you can get rid of these aftertastes and off effects. Click here to learn about encapsulation