NutriPro Sweetened Beverages - All sweeteners are not created equal

Monday, January 8, 2018

Sugar is not the only way to sweeten a drink. Today’s food operators can provide a wide range of alternative sweeteners to meet diverse customer preferences and needs.

Added sugars can be divided into two categories:

  • Nutritive sugars: Added sugars like sucrose, fructose, and high fructose corn syrup
  • Non-nutritive sugars: Additives that provide sweetness without a lot of calories

Health organizations are most concerned with the added sugars that provide calories without many nutrients. In parts of the world where food is abundant, using less of these added sugars is a simple easy way to achieve global health goals.

Non-nutritive sweetener safety

Non-nutritive sweeteners, also known as artificial sweeteners, are food additives designed to duplicate the taste of sugar without all the calories. Sugar substitutes have been widely used across the food industry for the past 30 years, especially in diet and low-calorie products. Their increased use has also been particularly important for people with diabetes and those interested in reducing their risk of dental caries.

Many nutritionists recommend that consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive sweeteners and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed within an eating plan that is guided by nutrition recommendations.

Aspartame is perhaps the most thoroughly researched additive. While its safety has been consistently demonstrated, adverse effects ranging from rash to cancer continue to be attributed to it. Serious scientific evaluation could not substantiate any of these claims,15 which is why it is allowed in foods today. While cyclamate is approved in 55 countries around the world, it was banned in the U.S. in 1969 and has not yet been reapproved.

Common non-nutritive sweeteners

  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Sucralose
  • Neotame
  • Saccharine
  • Aspartame
  • Neohesperidine
  • Cyclamate

A Comparison of Common Sweeteners

SweetenerSourceCulinary Tips
Sucrose/ Table sugar (natural)Sugar cane and sugar beetsRim a glass with table sugar to provide an interesting contrast to tart drinks like lemonade.
Fructose (natural)Fruits and honeyExperiment with honeys sourced from crops such as orange trees or blueberries to provide flavor differences for hot tea.
High fructose corn syrup (artificial)Enzymatic treatment of corn starchWhile most carbonated soft drinks contain HFCS, some brands are replacing it with natural sugars. Experiment to see what your customers prefer.
Sucralose (artificial)Synthetic mix of sucrose and chlorineSold under the Splenda® brand name, it’s often used to sweeten diet carbonated drinks.
Aspartame (artificial)Modified amino acids120-200 times sweeter than sugar, it allows you to provide sweetness by adding much less.
Stevia (natural)South American plant extract30-300 times sweeter than sugar, it can be used sparingly in hot or cold drinks.
Agave nectar (natural)Heart of the agave plantSweeter than sugar, it also dissolves very easily in cold drinks. Just a little goes a long way.
Luo han guo (natural)Monk fruit extractTraditional Chinese medicine attributes longevity to this low-calorie sweetener, which can be used to flavor herbal teas.