Sweeteners are sugar substitutes, which seem to be an interesting alternative to commonly used sucrose.
White sugar is a source of empty calories, which, however, is difficult to part with. Man prefers a sweet aroma and sugar is additionally addictive. Sweeteners can therefore be a good way to break with high-energy sucrose once and for all, without giving up the pleasantly sweet taste.
Sweeteners - what is it?
Sweeteners are sugar substitutes, i.e. chemical compounds, which stand out for their sweet taste and are often used as substitutes for classic food sugar.
Some sweeteners occur naturally in nature, others are obtained by chemical synthesis.
Types of sweeteners
Sweeteners can be divided into two groups, namely:
- intensive sweeteners,
Intense sweeteners can be compounds of natural or synthetic origin. Usually, their taste is much sweeter than the aroma of traditional sugar. Thanks to this property, they can be used in commonly available food products in very small quantities. Most intense sweeteners are also resistant to high temperatures. This group includes compounds such as:
- Acesulfame K,
- steviol glycosides,
Polyols on the other hand, are natural sweeteners, also known as sugar alcohols. Usually these are low-energy compounds. This group includes substances such as:
Popular sweeteners and their properties
There are many sweeteners, which are sugar substitutes. Some of them may be healthy alternatives, others - still arouse a lot of controversy.
Sweeteners, however, seem to be an interesting solution for people who can not give up the sweet taste, although they want to achieve a slim figure and want to take care of their own health.
Erythritol is a tetrahydric alcohol, i.e. an organic chemical compound, which as a food additive is used under the mysterious number E968. It occurs naturally in some fruit, e.g. in grapes or pears, as well as in mushrooms, soy sauce and red wine.
The sweetener does not contain calories. In addition, it may be distinguished by a zero glycemic index. Thus, erythritol can be an interesting alternative for diabetics and people using reduction diets. Since the sweetener is not metabolized by the human body, it does not contribute to the formation of caries and tooth decay.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener obtained from birch bark. It is also often called birch sugar. It is a five-carbon polyhydroxy alcohol with a sweet taste, which even looks like traditional sugar.
It is distinguished by a slightly mint aroma and a low glycemic index, thanks to which it is recommended among diabetics. In addition, xylitol can also be a prebiotic, as it can support the development of beneficial intestinal microflora.
It has two times less calories than sugar, it can have bacteriostatic and caricidal effects. As if that were not enough, xylitol can also promote the absorption of calcium in the gut and promote bone mineralization.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that is obtained from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, which is native to Paraguay and Brazil. The active substance is steviol glycosides, which are distinguished by much greater sweetness than sugar.
Stevia is thermally stable and does not ferment. It can inhibit the formation of plaque and counteract tooth decay. In addition, it can have antibacterial and antifungal effects. Steviol glycosides do not affect the glycemic index and because they are broken down only in the large intestine, they also do not contribute to an increase in blood glucose.
Acesulfame K is a heterocyclic chemical compound that can occur at room temperature in the form of white, water-soluble crystals. It is used as a food additive under the number E950.
It is distinguished by a zero glycemic index and thus does not contribute to a sharp increase in the level of glucose and insulin in the blood. It has no calories and can be fully excreted by the body. In addition, it is almost 200 times sweeter than sucrose.
Maltitol is an organic chemical compound from the group of polyols. In food production used as E965. It is naturally obtained from maltose contained in cereal grains, especially from corn. It can also be found in olives or potatoes.
Maltitol has a low glicemic index and is about Maltitol ma niski indeks glikemiczny i niemal połowę mniej kalorii niż sacharoza. Consumed in excess, it can cause a laxative effect.
Is it safe to use sweeteners?
According to the regulation of the European Parliament and the European Council, all sweeteners approved for use must undergo a number of tests, which will confirm their effectiveness and safety.
In addition, both EFSA - European Food Safety Authority and FDA - US Food and Drug Administration believe that sweeteners, which are used as directed and in appropriate amounts should not adversely affect human health and should not contribute to the occurrence of side effects.
Some sweeteners can cause unwanted symptoms such as laxative effect or abdominal pain, but only consumed in excessive amounts. Because most of these compounds are much sweeter than traditional sugar, their daily consumption is usually small, and thus should not adversely affect the human body.
Are sweeteners healthier than sugar?
So it can be concluded that sweeteners are healthier than sugar.
Consumed in large quantities, it may contribute to an increased risk of developing many serious diseases, i.a. type II diabetes or obesity.
In turn, sweeteners, especially those of natural origin, are distinguished by lower energy and lower glycemic index and some of them may also have additional health-promoting properties.
So they seem to be an interesting and safe alternative to classic sugar (of course, if consumed in moderation), which can be particularly useful among people who care about a slim figure or among diabetics.