the name implies, sweeteners are ingredients that add sweetness
to foods. Sweeteners are ingredients in soft drinks, desserts, candies
and pastries. They are often added to cereals, pasta sauces, mixed
dishes, soups and a variety of other foods.
There are 2 categories
of sweeteners: nutritive (those which have calories) and nonnutritive
(those without calories). Nutritive sweeteners include sugars
alcohols. Since these sweeteners contribute calories to the diet that
contain few vitamins or minerals, they are called "empty" calorie
foods. In moderation, they are considered safe for consumption during
pregnancy and lactation provided they are not contributing to excess weight
gain. Women with carbohydrate intolerance such as gestational diabetes,
diabetes mellitus, or insulin resistance (common in polycystic ovarian
syndrome) need to limit their use of nutritive sweeteners.
Nonnutritive sweeteners do not add calories to the
diet and include saccharin, acesulfame K, aspartame, and cyclamate.
on the effect of normal daily intakes of nonnutritive sweeteners
on the health and development of offspring are limited. However,
current data suggest that use of acesulfame K and aspartame are
safe, even at high levels of intake. Studies on saccharin and cyclamate
are less convincing. Data on saccharin suggest that a person is
most vulnerable to development of saccharin associated bladder cancer
when they are exposed to high saccharin intakes in utero and throughout
their lives. Cyclamate has also been linked to cancer and is currently
banned in the United States. As research on saccharin and
a risk, it is recommended that during
pregnancy and lactation
careful use if any of these nonnutritive sweeteners be considered.
All sugars contain 4 calories per gram and there are 4 grams of
carbohydrate per level teaspoon. In the context of a healthy overall
diet, good blood sugar control and when eaten in moderation with
a mixed meal, these sweeteners do not cause special problems for
people with carbohydrate intolerance. They may be used. However,
total carbohydrate is of concern in the diet. It is important to
recognize that these sweeteners add carbohydrate to food, whereas
nonnutritive sweeteners do not.
of carbohydrate is found in table sugar, raw sugar, cane sugar,
powdered sugar and brown sugar. It is also the primary sugar
in molasses. Sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
35% glucose and 40% fructose, a close relative to Honey sucrose.
and sweeter than sucrose, it is primarily glucose. It is usually
found in sodas and soft drinks
Or Corn Sugar
cornstarch, this sugar is high in glucose.
sweetener, fruit sugar. Because fructose is sweeter than sucrose,
less can be used in recipes. For that reason, it may be a better
sweetener choice for people with carbohydrate intolerance.
malt, beer and ales, this sugar is formed from 2 glucose molecules.
It is potent and adds quickly to the blood glucose pool.
are added to foods as alternative sweeteners, and often the foods
with these sweeteners are called sugar free. Technically, they are
not sugars. But, they have calories. They are readily converted
to glucose in the liver, especially when blood sugar is already
high and carbohydrate intolerance is out-of-control. They can also
be converted to fat, and may contribute to high triglycerides or
weight gain. They are known for their potent laxative effect when
eaten in excess.
||Derived from glucose; this sweetener is 60% as sweet as sucrose.
||Derived from xylose, it is equal in sweetness to sucrose.
||Derived from sucrose; it is about 60% as sweet as sucrose.
||Derived from mannose; it is about 70% as sweet as sucrose.
|Derived from corn, wheat or potato starches. These sweeteners range from 40% to 90% as sweet as sucrose.
are added in very small amounts to foods for a significant sweetening
effect. These sweeteners have been approved for use in a number
of dietetic or reduced-calorie foods and beverages. While safety
is a concern, only minute amounts are necessary. However, cautious
use of saccharin and cyclamate is indicated as they may cause potential
health risks for the fetus and research is limited on their safety
during pregnancy. For people with carbohydrate intolerance during
pregnancy, the nonnutritive sweeteners acesulfame
K and aspartame can be helpful in keeping total carbohydrate lower in the diet.
is about 300 times as sweet as sucrose. It has been in use
since the late 1800s and is a popular tabletop sweetener.
In the 1970's, its safety was questioned in the United States
because of studies suggesting an increased risk of bladder
cancer in male rats given very high levels of saccharin. Later,
the research design was called into question and its conclusions
refuted. It is now determined that up to 1 gram per day of
saccharin poses no health risks to adults.
there is no evidence of harmful effects reported, recent studies
show that saccharin does cross the placenta and may be of
concern to some women during pregnancy. High saccharin intakes
in utero and throughout life have been linked to increased
risk of developing bladder cancer.
Potassium (K) is 200 times as sweet as sucrose. It is heat
stable so, unlike aspartame, it can be used in cooking. It
is added to dry mixes for sugar free gelatins, puddings and
beverages. It can also be used in baked goods. In Canada and
Europe it is approved for soft drinks.
are no safety concerns raised about Acesulfame K. It has been
deemed safe for all age groups.
is 200 times sweeter than sucrose. It became available as
a tabletop sweetener in the 1970s and is now added to thousands
of foods. It is not stable in heat nor for long periods in
liquid form. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated
that high heat or long storage times could decrease the quality
of the food products, they concluded that this did not pose
a health risk.
a by-product of aspartame breakdown, is the concern. However,
as a comparison, 1 liter of beverage sweetened with aspartame
can produce up to 58 mg of methanol. The average amount of
methanol in fruit juice is 140 mg per liter, or 3 times the
amount found in the aspartame-sweetened beverage. The FDA
has approved aspartame for use during pregnancy and lactation.
for Disease Control did state that some individuals might
be unusually sensitive to aspartame. Anyone who experiences
a reaction to aspartame is encouraged to document it and discuss
it with his or her physician. Phenylalanine is a component
of aspartame that should be avoided by individuals with a
rare metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU). Phenylalanine
does cross the placenta and has been a concern in producing
PKU in offspring. However, even at high levels of intake placental
transport of this substance does not appear to be clinically
is a non-caloric sweetener that is made from sugar. It was approved
in April of 1998 for use as a table top sweetener. It is now
used to sweeten products in more than 30 countries. Sucralose
is 600 times sweeter than sugar and it is heat-stable, which
means in can be used for baked goods. Sucralose has no effect
on blood sugar, offers no calories and is deemed safe for use
with all populations, including pregnant and lactating women
as well as children.
is 30 times sweeter than sucrose and had been used in foods
since the 1950s. It was removed from food products in the USA
and Canada by the 1970s because several animal studies suggested
it posed an increased cancer risk. While it is completely banned
in the USA, it is available in Canada as a tabletop sweetener.
Studies in the 1960s that resulted in the cyclamate ban have
since been questioned. The scientific community is reviewing
more current data that may support cyclamate approval again.
The maximum daily limit suggested is 1.5 grams per day.