Sweeteners are carbohydrates or substances similar in structure to them, having a low glycemic index. These substances have a sweet taste and caloric value, close to the calorie content of sugar. But their advantage is that they are absorbed more slowly, do not provoke sudden jumps in insulin because some of them can be used in diabetic nutrition.
Sweeteners, on the contrary, differ in structure from sugar. They have a very low or zero calorie content, but are often hundreds of times sweeter than sugar.
Both sweeteners and sweeteners are used to give the food a sweet taste, while reducing the amount of calories entering the body.
As mentioned above, sweeteners have become an “outlet” for those people who have to limit themselves to sweets or not use sugar for medical reasons. These substances practically do not affect the level of glucose in the blood, which is important for diabetics.
Sugar analogues can be divided into 2 large groups: natural and synthetic. The first include fructose, stevia, sorbitol, xylitol. The second includes saccharin, cyclamate, aspartame, sucrasite, etc.
Reading various reviews about sweeteners, most often as part of the fight against weight, you can see 2 main lines: extremely negative, based on the opinion that they cause cancer, dementia, "and indeed chemistry", the second positive - no calories, no psychological discomfort , “A diabetic neighbor has been drinking sweeteners for 10 years and nothing.”
Smoke without fire, as you know, does not exist and different opinions - this is not always the result of someone’s fiction.
So: almost all side effects were identified in experiments on laboratory animals. It has been proven that sweeteners can cause serious illnesses (oncological, neurological).
A small “but” - in scientific research, VERY large doses of sugar substitutes were used, which significantly (more than 100 times) exceed the recommended daily allowance. We will talk about the latest studies on the safety of sweeteners later.
Things to keep in mind: the presence of concomitant diseases can limit the intake of certain sugar substitutes - with phenylketonuria, aspartame should not be used, with acesulfame-K, heart disease can be aggravated with xylitol, and diabetes mellitus and obesity should not be consumed with fructose.
Sweeteners are artificial and natural.
They, like sugar, are consumed in large enough quantities and have an energy value comparable to glucose. These are fructose, xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, isomalt, palatinite and others. It is very important that these sweeteners are both carriers of a sweet taste, a source of energy and a filler of food products.
The sweeteners in this category are actually carbohydrates and not at all alcohol. They are found in fruits and vegetables. And on an industrial scale, they are obtained from products rich in sugars, for example, corn by hydrogenation using catalysts, with the exception of erythritol, for the production of which sugars are fermented.
They are united not by zero, but by a relatively small number of calories and a low glycemic index relative to sugar. Their sweetness is usually lower than sugar, but their physical properties and cooking behavior make them a good alternative to other sweeteners.
All of them, except erythritis, can cause flatulence and diarrhea when the recommended dosage is exceeded, and this is fraught not only with unpleasant sensations in the intestine, but also with the danger of dehydration of the body with disturbance of electrolyte balance, which leads to big problems.
Here are some of the sugar alcohols.
A sugar derivative that, after enzymatic treatment, contains half the calories, but also half the sweetness. It has a low glycemic index. Marked as E953. It is often used for the production of laxatives, so keep in mind that isomalt can cause flatulence and diarrhea, as it is perceived by the intestines as dietary fiber, although it does not violate the intestinal microflora and even vice versa - contributes to its favorable prosperity.
Do not exceed 50 g per day (25 g - for children). In addition, read the composition on the package, because, due to the small sweetness of izolmata, other artificial sweeteners are often used along with it to enhance the taste. Found wide application in the confectionery industry.
Another sugar alcohol made from lactose is E966. Like isomalt, it does not reach sugar sweetness by half, but has a clean taste, and has half as many calories as sugar. And the rest is similar to a brother and is used in pharmacology as a laxative with possible concomitant flatulence, therefore it is not recommended to exceed a dose of 40 g per day.
Polyhydric sugar alcohol produced from corn starch - E965. Contains 80-90% sweetness of sugar and has all its physical properties, only the glycemic index is half as much and calories also half as much.
The food supplement, codenamed E421, is in fact little used as a sugar substitute because of insufficient sweetness, but has found its vocation in pharmacology as a decongestant and diuretic.
It is used in cases of renal failure, to reduce intraocular and cranial pressures. And, like any medicine, it, of course, has contraindications: congestive heart failure, severe kidney disease, blood disease.
Due to the effect of dehydration, it contributes to the violation of electrolyte balance, leading to convulsions and heart disorders. Does not raise blood glucose. It is not metabolized in the oral cavity, which means it does not lead to the development of caries.
Its marking is E420. This is an isomer of the aforementioned mannitol, and it is most often obtained from corn syrup. Less sweet than sugar by about 40%. Calories contain less than sugar all at the same 40%.
Its glycemic index is low, but laxative abilities are high. Sorbitol is a choleretic agent and stimulates the digestive tract, but there is unconfirmed evidence that it can cause intestinal damage. According to some reports, sorbitol has the ability to be deposited in the lenses of the eye.
And, finally, in my opinion, the most successful sweetener to date, which is the product of enzymatic hydrolysis of corn starch to glucose, followed by fermentation with yeast.
It is a natural component of some fruits. Erythritol almost does not contain calories, but it has 60-70% sugar sweetness. It does not affect blood glucose, which is why it is worthy of attention in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes.
Up to 90% of erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream before entering the intestines, so it does not cause a laxative effect and does not lead to bloating. It has sugar-like characteristics in cooking and behaves perfectly in home baking.
But not everything is as rosy as it might seem, and a fly in the ointment will now spill. Since the initial product for the production of erythritol is corn, and it is known to be universally genetically modified, this can be a potential danger.
Look for the words “Non-GMO” on the packaging. In addition, erythritol alone is not sweet enough and the final sweetener usually contains other artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, the safety of which may be doubtful.
At very high daily doses, it can still cause diarrhea, and it should be used with caution in people with irritable intestines. Some studies report the ability of erythritol to cause skin allergic reactions.
The first safe sweetener in the world to survive countless ups and downs. You can’t describe the history of saccharin, 120 years long, in a nutshell - it resembles a world-class spy detective with Roosevelt, Churchill and Swiss customs in the lead roles (19).
Supplement E954 got more than aspartame and cyclamate combined. At the end of the section, I will focus on the most sensational study, the methodology of which resonated in the scientific community and almost buried the first safe sweetener.
- Chemical formula: C7H5NO3S
- Molecular Weight: 183.18 g / mol
- Flavourless crystalline powder.
- It has a metallic aftertaste and bitterness in high concentration, but when mixed with cyclamate it gives sugar sweetness.
- It does not spoil for decades.
- Sweeter than sucrose from 300 to 550 times (depending on the method of preparation).
- Strengthens and enhances the aroma of products.
- In baking preserves properties.
Effect on the body
Saccharin is not digested and is rapidly excreted unchanged in urine (20). Long-term effects have been tested on several generations of different laboratory animals. The results indicate the absence of any effect on DNA (21).
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were concerns that saccharin could be metabolized to sulfamoylbenzoic acid, but laboratory methods did not confirm this (22). In vitro studies allow hydrolysis of the sweetener to sulfamoylbenzoic acid at a pH of not higher than 5 and only after 48 hours of finding saccharin in the solution (no one can hold urine for so long, and PH 5 is far from normal).
The synthesis of saccharin according to one of the many patents. From coal, it has not been received for about 80 years.
In rats, which were injected with 50 mg of saccharin daily for a year, 96% of the substance was excreted for 7 days, after which each organ was tested for the remaining radioactive molecules. Individuals who were given an adequate norm for life were excreted 96-100% with urine and feces within 24-72 hours (23).
Some more theory
Oddly enough, but sugar was born as ... a cure. In ancient India, it was evaporated from sugar cane and various diseases were treated. I think the effect was approximately the same as in many modern dietary supplements.
But, times changed, the placebo effect did not last long, and people began to use sugar for food. Until the 18th century, sugar was imported into Europe and was very expensive. It was sold in pharmacies and sold in grams.
In 1747, the German chemist Maggraf discovered the production of sugar from beets. After that, sugar began its victorious march around the world, as it had fallen in price. For ease of transportation, the English merchant Henry Tate in 1872 came up with the idea of transporting sugar in pieces.
At the moment, sugar is usually obtained from sugarcane and sugar beets.
There is a theory of economical phenotype. According to her, mankind, in conditions of intermittent and inadequate food intake, could survive only with the ability to accumulate energy in the form of fat. Stocking was made possible thanks to the development of insulin resistance (more on this can be found in any section on diabetes).
However, in modern conditions, when the balance between energy consumption and energy consumption is violated, insulin resistance has become not a favorable, but a negative factor leading to a progression in the prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes and an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity.
It is estimated that the average American consumes about 200 grams of sugar per day (≈800 kcal). Russians about 100 grams per day. Now the question is backfill: which country in the world takes first place in the number of obese people?
In addition to sucrose, there are other carbohydrates: fructose and glucose in fruits and honey, maltose in grains, and lactose in milk.
70s of the 19th century. Chemist Konstantin Falberg (by the way, a Russian emigrant) returns from his laboratory and sits down for dinner. His attention is attracted by the unusual taste of bread - it is very sweet. Falberg understands that the matter is not in the bread - some sweet substance remained on his fingers.
The chemist recalls that he forgot to wash his hands, and before that he did experiments in the laboratory, trying to find a new use for coal tar. This is how the first synthetic sweetener, saccharin, was invented.
I must say that saccharin constantly became the object of persecution. He was banned in Europe and in Russia. But the total shortage of products that arose during the First World War forced European governments to legalize “chemical sugar”.
Chemists are developing a number of super-sweet and expensive compounds of plant origin: curculin, brazzein, glycoside from Monk fruits, miraculin, monatin, moneline, pentadine, thaumatin (E957). If you set a goal, almost all of this can be bought and tried now.
All other substances, such as fructose, erythritol, xylitol, sorbitol, and others are high-calorie. I will not write about them.
A modified form of aspartame, sweeter than sugar 8,000 times on average. Resistant to baking, has a zero glycemic index. Safe for people with PKU. Its metabolism differs from aspartame: only 8% methanol is obtained from the E961 molecule.
ADI Neotam 0.3 mg / kg bw or 44 cans of cola on the E961 (don't produce one yet). This is currently the cheapest synthetic sweetener: 1% of the cost of sugar.
The latest sweetener that has not yet received its E. It is made on the basis of aspartame and isovaniline, but 20,000 times sweeter than sugar. Due to homeopathic quantities in the product, suitable for phenylketonurics.
Advantam molecule is stable at high temperatures. The body is not metabolized. ADI Advantam 32.8 mg per kg body weight. The FDA approved the substance in 2014 after a series of animal tests. But as a homemade sweetener, we are unlikely to try it in the near future.
On the basis of aspartame, it was developed not only for adventure. Somewhat sweeter options than E951: alitam E956 (trade name for Aklam), Acesulfame-aspartame salt E962 (I drink Pepsi on this mixture, delicious), neotam.
This type of sweetener is considered safer. It contains components that do not have a negative effect on the human body.
The problem is the high calorie content of these substances, which is why they are not suitable for people who are on a diet. But they are effective for type 2 diabetes. They allow patients not to give up their favorite foods, but at the same time not to increase blood sugar levels.
It is necessary to consider the most famous sweeteners from this group.
This product is obtained from a plant called Sweet Leaves. The compound contains substances with a small amount of calories. It has a pronounced sweet taste.
Positive features of stevia:
- does not increase glucose,
- does not have energy value unlike other sweeteners of natural origin,
- no side effects
- no toxic effect
- it is permissible to use it for the preparation of any dishes, since it does not lose its properties during heat treatment,
- insulin is not required for assimilation by the body,
- improves the digestive system, pancreas and liver,
- reduces the risk of developing cancer,
- contributes to increased performance and mental activity,
- strengthens blood vessels.
The negative properties of a substance include:
- insufficient knowledge of the action,
- risk of decreased activity of male sex hormones during product abuse.
Due to its properties, this product is considered the safest for diabetics. It can also be used for weight loss.
This substance is also called fruit sugar, as it is obtained from fruits and fruits. The product has the form of a white powder, which is highly soluble.
The advantages of fructose include:
- less fatal effect on the teeth,
- Preservative properties
- reduced energy value (compared with sugar).
Negative features are also inherent in it:
- the presence of side effects from the gastrointestinal tract,
- the risk of increased blood glucose,
- the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disorders.
Based on these features, fructose can hardly be called the best sugar substitute for patients with diabetes. They are allowed to use this substance from time to time in small doses.
This sweetener is made from corn starch, as well as from some fruits and vegetables. It has the form of a powder with a yellowish or white color, which is soluble in water.
The advantages of sorbitol include:
- no risk of tooth decay,
- normalization of intestinal activity,
- suitability for use in diabetes,
- preserving properties.
Among the shortcomings of the substance can be mentioned:
- high calorie content (not suitable for people on a diet),
- the likelihood of intestinal upset with abuse,
- the risk of visual pathologies with frequent use.
Proper use of this product makes it very useful, but it also has contraindications.
This substance is one of the most common sweeteners.
Its positive features include:
- natural origin,
- the possibility of assimilation without insulin,
- low glycemic index,
- lack of risk of hyperglycemia,
- good for teeth.
Among the shortcomings are called:
- high energy value
- side effects from the gastrointestinal tract during the period of addiction to the substance.
Xylitol can be used by diabetics, but is not very suitable for people who want to lose weight.
This compound is removed from the melon. Erythritol has a slightly lower taste intensity than sugar; it belongs to new sweeteners.
Its advantages are in the following features:
- low calorie content
- preservation of properties during heating,
- prevention of diseases of the oral cavity.
An unpleasant feature of erythritis is the possibility of side effects when using too much of this substance.
A group of natural products with a sweet taste, which makes their use an alternative to sugar. Usually their caloric content is not less than that of sugar, and sometimes even more, but the benefit can be in their lower glycemic index, as well as in the potential usefulness of some of them.
They get it, respectively, from agave - a plant similar to a huge aloe originating from Mexico and growing in hot countries. You can get syrup from a plant that has reached the age of seven years, and the process of obtaining it is not so simple that the final product is cheap and affordable.
Its calorific value is high - 310 kcal per 100 g of product, and although the glycemic index of agave syrup is slightly lower than the sugar index, it can hardly be called too dietary. In addition, such a high content of fructose can harm the body no less than sugar.
Fructose is metabolized by liver cells, turning into fatty acids. Its effect on the liver is akin to the influence of alcohol, up to the metabolic syndrome. In addition, fructose is absorbed faster than sugar, without giving a feeling of satiety, which provokes an even greater appetite.
Fructose has long been no longer considered a relevant substitute for sugar, as it causes insulin resistance, significantly increases triglycerides, promotes the accumulation of visceral fat, which increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
But manufacturers and sellers of this product attribute to it a lot of useful properties. And although these agave extracts contain a large amount of strong antioxidants, there is not a large amount of agave syrup or agave nectar in the final product.
Everyone, of course, knows more about honey than any Wikipedia, and since this product is very common in our latitudes, each of us has our own experience in using it. I will not embarrass you with my conclusions, just keep in mind that in addition to the incredible amount of vitamin-mineral components that are very useful for the body, it is also very high in calories (up to 415 kcal).
Another naturally sweet product, which is a condensed version of the juice of sugar, holly or red maple, which grows exclusively in North America. Its production is a whole era in Canada and some states of America.
juice from maples and be sure to catch it from January to April. In 100 g of product 260 kcal, 60 g of sugar, and fat is not contained, an abundance of vitamins and minerals in place.
Why is it needed?
Sugar is pure sucrose. Under the influence of enzymes of saliva and juice of the duodenum and small intestine 12, sucrose is broken down into glucose and fructose. The glycemic index is 100%, that is, it is absorbed by the body completely within a few minutes.
Sugar has only energy value. Each 1 g of sugar contains 4 kcal. If a person lives in conditions of reduced energy consumption, then the excess of calories turns into fat. It is estimated that eating just 2 extra teaspoons of sugar can lead to an increase in weight by 3-4 kg per year.
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You need to consider these sweeteners in more detail to find out if they are useful:
- Saccharin. It is considered a carcinogen in some countries, although it is allowed in Russia. The main criticism of this substance is associated with the presence of an unpleasant metallic taste. With frequent use, it can cause gastrointestinal diseases. Its advantages include low energy value, which makes it valuable for people with excess body weight. Also, it does not lose its properties when heated and does not emit toxic substances.
- Cyclamate. This compound has a very sweet taste in the absence of calories. Heating does not distort its properties. Nevertheless, under its influence, the effect of carcinogens increases. In some countries, its use is prohibited. The main contraindications to cyclamate include pregnancy and lactation, as well as kidney disease.
- Aspartame This product is significantly superior to sugar in taste intensity. However, he has no unpleasant aftertaste. The energy value of the substance is minimal. An unpleasant feature of aspartame is instability during heat treatment. Heating makes it toxic - methanol is released.
- Acesulfame potassium. This compound also has a more pronounced taste than sugar. Calories are missing. When using the product there is almost no risk of allergic reactions. It also has no harmful effect on the teeth. Its long storage is allowed. The disadvantage of this sweetener is that it is not absorbed by the body and does not participate in metabolic processes.
- Sucrazite. The properties of sucrasite are not affected by temperature - it remains unchanged when heated and frozen. Necalorien, because of which it is widely used by those who want to lose weight. The danger is the presence in it of fumaric acid, which has a toxic effect.
This group of chemically obtained concentrates combines an extremely high sweetness, hundreds of times superior to sugar, with a negligible calorie tending to zero.
A synthetic sweetener labeled E952 is 40-50 times sweeter than sugar. It is still banned in the USA, Japan and other countries, although the issue of lifting the ban is being considered. This is due to some animal experiments that testified to its carcinogenicity in tandem with saccharin.
Studies have also been conducted to ascertain the effects of cyclamate on male fertility, and this study was initiated after reporting that the substance causes testicular atrophy in rats. But the root of the problem with cyclamate is the ability or inability of each particular organism to metabolize, that is, absorb this substance.
According to studies, some intestinal bacteria produce cyclohexylamine, a compound that is thought to have some chronic toxicity in animals during cyclamate processing. And, although many subsequent trials have not proved such a connection, cyclamate is not recommended for children and pregnant women.
On the labels you can meet it under the code E950. And they get it through various chemical reactions, as a result of which the sweetener is 180-200 times sweeter than sugar at zero nutritional value. The concentrate tastes bitter-metallic aftertaste, and many manufacturers add third chemical components to mask the aftertaste.
Acesulfame is resistant to heat and stable in moderately alkaline and acidic conditions, which allows it to be used in baking, in jelly desserts and in chewing gum. It is often used in the production of protein shakes, so keep in mind that although potassium acesulfame has a stable shelf life, however, after it expires, it degrades to acetoacetamide, which is toxic in high doses.
In the seventies, acesulfame was accused of carcinogenicity, but later long-term studies removed all suspicions from acesulfame, as a result of which it was approved for use in Europe. And those critics who still question the safety of acesulfame potassium, continue experiments on mice.
And although my indignation about this knows no boundaries, I have to report that acesulfame stimulates dose-dependent secretion of insulin in rats in the absence of hyperglycemia. Another study reports an increase in the number of tumors in male mice in response to drug administration.
In common people known as E951 is a chemically synthesized substitute that are 160-200 times sweeter than sugar. Its nutritional value tends to zero, as well as the duration of the sweet aftertaste, because of which it is often mixed with other counterparts to maximize the sugar taste.
Due to the fact that phenylalanine (amino acid) is one of the decay products of aspartame in the human body, all products containing this supplement are marked with the inscription “Contains a source of phenylalanine” on the label and can be dangerous for people with a genetic disease phenylketonuria .
No association with neoplasms or psychiatric symptoms was found, but consumers often report headaches. Because aspartame is considered a trigger product for migraines, along with cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits, monosodium glutamate, ice cream, coffee and alcoholic beverages.
Artificial sweetener labeled E954 on labels. Having a sweetness 300-400 times superior to sugar, it has zero nutritional value. It is resistant to high temperatures and does not enter into chemical reactions with other food ingredients, it is often used in combination with other sweeteners to mask their taste deficiencies, although it itself has an unpleasant metallic taste.
The early (1970s) experiments on rats revealed a link between high doses of saccharin and bladder cancer. Later experiments on primates showed that this relationship is not related to humans, as rodents, unlike humans, have a unique combination of high pH and a high concentration of protein in the urine, which contributed to negative test results.
Of course, it is up to you to decide how to relate to it, but I hope all these mouse victims were not in vain.
One of the “youngest” artificial sweeteners, labeled E955, is derived from sugar by selective chlorination in multi-step synthesis. The final product is about 320-1000 times sweeter than its parent (sugar) and has zero nutritional value, and it inherited a pleasant sweetness from her father.
Of course, a big plus in the karma of sucralose is its inability to influence insulin levels. In addition, it does not cross the placenta and almost all is excreted from the body. According to the documentation, only 2-8% of consumed sucralose is metabolized.
The experiments on rodents did not reveal a connection with the development of oncology, but large doses led to a decrease in fecal mass, an increase in acidity in the stomach and, ATTENTION!, An increase in body weight. In addition, some studies, although invalidated due to various deficiencies in their conduct, found the effect of large doses of the drug on the development of leukemia in rats and damage to DNA structures.
Before deciding which sweetener is the best, you should consider products that are a combination of several substances. It seems to some users that such sweeteners have more valuable features.
The most famous are:
- Milford This substitute is found in several varieties, the composition of which has differences. Features of the influence of products depend on the components included in them. Some of them are close to natural (Milford Stevia), others are completely synthetic (Milford Suess).
- Feed parad. This product contains components such as sucralose, erythritol, stevioside and rosehip extract. Almost all of them (except for rose hips) are synthetic. The tool is characterized by low calorie content and a small glycemic index. The product is considered safe, although systematic abuse of it can cause negative consequences (weight gain, decreased immunity, nervous system disorders, allergic reactions, etc.). Since there are several ingredients in this sweetener, you need to take into account the peculiarities of each of them.
The use of combined sweeteners seems convenient to many. But you need to remember the presence of synthetic components in them, which can be harmful.