Comparison of Artificial Sweeteners
—Jill Fandrich, PharmD, CRPh
Artificial sweeteners are substances used as sugar substitutes to provide a sweet taste to foods and beverages without adding calories. They are often used by individuals looking to reduce their sugar intake or manage conditions such as diabetes. Let's compare some commonly used artificial sweeteners:
1. Aspartame - Aspartame, often seen as Equal (the blue packets), is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners. It is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar and is commonly found in sugar-free products such as diet sodas, chewing gum, and desserts. However, it is unsuitable for cooking or baking as it breaks down when heated.
2. Sucralose - Sucralose is known by its brand name Splenda (the yellow packets). It is 600 times sweeter than sugar and has gained popularity due to its stability at high temperatures. Sucralose can be used for cooking and baking and is found in various food products, including beverages, baked goods, and dairy products.
3. Saccharin - Saccharin, often sold as Sweet'N Low (the pink packets), is one of the oldest artificial sweeteners. It has about 200-700 times the sweetness of sugar and is commonly used in tabletop sweeteners, as well as in diet drinks, canned fruit, and sugar-free gum. While it was once linked to cancer, extensive studies have since concluded that saccharin is safe for human consumption.
4. Stevia - Stevia (the green packets) is a natural sweetener derived from the sweet leaf plant. It is 200-400 times sweeter than sugar but contains no calories. Stevia is often used in powdered form and can be found in various food products like beverages, yogurt, and desserts. It is generally considered safe, although a few studies have questioned its potential impact on blood sugar levels.
5. Neotame - Neotame is a relatively newer artificial sweetener that is approximately 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. It is heat-stable and can be used for cooking and baking. Neotame is found in some products, but its use is not as widespread as other artificial sweeteners. Its packaging is generally white/orange in color.
Each artificial sweetener has its own advantages and limitations, so it's important to consider your specific dietary needs and preferences when choosing one. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can also provide personalized guidance on selecting and using artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners may add sweetness to our taste buds, but true satisfaction lies in savoring the natural sweetness of life.
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