Sugar sweeteners are sweetening agents often used as food additives. Sugars are carbohydrates and thus sweeten foods; however, they also have a bitter or metallic aftertaste that many people find unpleasant.
Some sugar sweeteners have been chemically treated to make them taste sweeter than naturally produced sugars. Artificial sweeteners can be divided into two main classes: sweeteners with a high sweetening potency, which may be called “intense sweeteners”, and sweeteners with lower sweetening potency, referred to as “non-sweet” or “low-intensity sweeteners.” In the U.S., intense sweeteners are designated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
The sweetener industry began in the 19th century when sucrose, fructose and glucose were first marketed. Saccharin was discovered in 1879. Several other sweeteners have been discovered since then, including a substance now known as sweet n’ low. Sucralose was discovered by accident in 1976 when researchers were trying to create new insecticides.
Sugars are sweetened in food with little or no modification, while sugar substitutes that contain carbohydrates such as polydextrose and polyols must be altered or treated so they do not metabolize into glucose in the human body. These modifications include methylation, citric acid esterification, acetylation and glycosidation.
Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sucrose, as sweet as sugar in bulk; it is used widely in soft drinks, sweet baking goods like cookies and cakes, sweetened yogurt or other dairy desserts, liquid sweeteners for coffee, tea, hot cocoa and some brands of cereals. Aspartame is also known as E951.
Acesulfame potassium or Ace-K has a sweetening potency between 200 and 300 times that of sucrose; it is used in baked goods, sweetened dairy products, chewing gum, beverages like carbonated soft drinks and energy and sport drinks. It’s often blended with other sweeteners. It’s also known as sweet one, sweet and safe, sweetex and Sunette.
Alitame is 1000-1400 times sweeter than sucrose on a weight basis, or 300 times the potency of saccharin; it has no aftertaste and is often used in combination with other sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin or sucralose. It was approved in the U.S. in 1999 as a general sweetener and flavor enhancer intended for tabletop sweeteners, baked goods, chewing gum, confections, beverages and gelatins; it is used in combination with other sweeteners like cyclamate and saccharin. It is also known as sweetex.
Aspartame-acesulfame salt is a variant of aspartame sweetened with both the sweetener acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) and the amino acid phenylalanine; it is often blended with other sweeteners especially for baked goods, chewing gum, candy and beverages. It’s also known as acesulfame sweetener, sweet one, sweet and safe.
Cyclamate is 30-60 times sweeter than sucrose in bulk and has been used for more than 40 years in over 120 countries; it is heat stable and inexpensive but must be combined with other sweeteners to achieve the taste of sucrose in sweetened products like baked goods. It’s known as sweet n’ low, sugar twin and sweetex.
Saccharin is 300-700 times sweeter than sucrose depending on the product and amount used. It began to be produced commercially in 1879, but lost favor after a study revealed it caused bladder tumors in rats. Further animal studies found similar tumors in rats, but not mice or hamsters. It remains controversial and is still sweetened with other sweeteners like acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) and aspartame to achieve the taste of sucrose. It’s sweet’ n low, sweetex, sweet one, sweet booster; sweet’n pure and sweet one.
Sorbitol sweetener was approved in the U.S. for use as a general sweetener and flavor enhancer; it is used in combination with other sweeteners like Aspartame, Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) or Sucralose such as in “sugar free” chewing gum. Sorbitol sweeteners are sweetened with other sweeteners like acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) and aspartame. It’s sweet drops, sweetex, sweet’n pure and sorbsweet.
Stevia is a plant native to South America; it is used as a replacement for sweeteners like sugar, honey, maple syrup and sweeteners used in a variety of products including sweetened beverages, baked goods, chewing gum candy, gelatins and puddings. It’s sweet leaf (stevia rebaudiana), sweet’n pure sweet drops and sweetleaf.
Sucralose (Splenda) sweetener is 600 times sweeter than sucrose and was approved by the FDA in 1999 as a general sweetener and flavor enhancer. It is sweetened with other sweeteners like Ace-K or Aspartame such as in “sugar free” chewing gum. It’s Splenda, sweetex, sweet one, sweet’n pure sweet’n safe sweet drops and sweet one.
Xylitol is a five carbon sugar alcohol sweetener used as a replacement for sweeteners like sugar, honey, maple syrup in sweetened products like candies, baked goods, chewing gum; it can be used to sweeten hot beverages and even used as a toothpaste sweetener due to its cavity preventing sweetening properties. It’s known as sweetex, sweet-one, sweetener used in various products such as sweetened beverages, baked goods, chewing gum and candies; it is also marketed under the tradename xilitol sweetdrops.