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What are Some Different Types of Sugar Substitutes?

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  • Written By: Deborah Ng
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2014
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For many people, sugar in coffee or baked goods isn't an option. This can be due to weight watching or for health related matters. Fortunately, there are a variety of sugar substitutes on the market for one to choose from. Knowing about the different types of sugar substitutes can help you to choose the best product for your lifestyle.

Saccharine — The main ingredient in the popular pink-packets of "Sweet N Low," saccharine is one of the more well-known sugar substitutes. Saccharine was popular years ago but fell out of favor when it was concluded laboratory rats developed cancer after using this artificial sweetener. While rats may have experienced unfortunate side effects, this has not been proven to be the case with humans. It's not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, however. Saccharine can be used to sweeten drinks of all temperatures and can be used in place of sugar in recipes.

Aspartame — You might recognize aspartame as the product contained in the blue packet with "Nutra Sweet" printed on the front. Once saccharine began to lose its luster, aspartame gained popularity. While aspartame might be popular in diet soft drinks, coffee and tea, it's not recommended for baking as it can lose its flavor after being exposed to heat for certain period of time. Adding it to foods once they stop cooking, however, is fine.

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Acesulfame-K — Also know as "Ace-K," this sugar substitute is actually two hundred times sweeter than sugar! This sweetener should be used in moderation. Ace-K is fine for baking, just use it sparingly.

Cyclamate — This is the sugar substitute used by Weight Watchers. It's great for cooking and baking. It's sweeter than sugar, about ten times sweeter, so keep this in mind when opening a package of "Sugar Twin."

Sucralose — Sucralose is what is contained in a yellow packet of "Splenda." Splenda is gaining in popularity not only because it's made of sugar, thereby tasting just like sugar, but because it measures the same as sugar, which makes it more convenient for baking than other sugar substitutes. Sucralose is six hundred times sweeter than sugar, however, so if one is not using the Splenda brand, one will have to do some math to figure out how much to add to your baking.

Most of the above sugar substitutes have been approved by the FDA as safe for use by diabetics. Those who are diabetic, pregnant or nursing would probably find it in their best interests to check with their physicians before using any of these products regularly.

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Discuss this Article

turquoise
Post 18

@surreallife-- I think what happens with artificial sugar substitutes is that our body thinks that we are eating sugar but doesn't actually get any carbohydrates in the process. So immediately after consuming these substitutes, you crave carbohydrates. This is probably why some people gain weight with sugar substitutes.

But I think you can work around this if you have it along with meals or a snack that actually has carbs.

I don't like table sugar or artificial sweeteners. I use agave nectar which I think is the most healthy sugar substitute out there next to honey. It doesn't taste like sugar but you get used to it. Plus, it's natural, it doesn't have side effects, and it has fructose (fruit sugar) so it's not that bad for you.

fify
Post 17

@simrin-- Sucralose is safe for diabetics, it is not sugar. It won't affect your blood sugar levels, so don't worry.

I think some confusion also comes from the name. The scientific name for sugar is "sucrose." Sucralose sounds similar because it is made from sugar but it doesn't actually get recognized as sugar by the body.

What they do is they break apart the sugar atoms and add chlorine atoms to them which forms sucralose. It's still sweet, but it doesn't act like sugar in the body. So it's safe to consume for diabetics.

SteamLouis
Post 16

I'm a little confused about sucralose (Splenda). I'm a diabetic, I just got diagnosed recently so I had to give up sugar and switch to other alternatives. I've been using Splenda thinking that it's a natural sweetener that is sugar-free. Am I wrong?

The article said that it's made of sugar so it cannot be sugar-free right?

What's the best sugar substitute for a diabetic?

LisaLou
Post 15

@surreallife-- I remember seeing something about this on the Dr Oz show. Using these sugar substitutes actually had the opposite effect of what they were hoping for. Most all of these sugar substitutes are sweeter than sugar and they somehow trick your brain.

I don't remember all of the scientific facts they mentioned but clearly remember that using these sugar substitutes as a regular part of your diet was not good, and you might end up gaining weight instead of losing it.

With all the studies out there that show many of these as being unhealthy, I think it would be best to stay away from them. That is much easier said than done for many people though because they have become so used to how sweet they are and nothing else seems to taste as sweet or as good.

It might take some time to "wean" yourself off of them, but I think you would be better off in the long run if you could.

sunshined
Post 14

@John57-- You can replace sugar with honey, but I am not sure if diabetics can use honey or not. I am thinking that most of them are not able to and would need to use some other kind of sugar substitute.

The best sugar substitute for baking I have found is Splenda. Everything I have made with this has turned out great and you can't tell the difference. It is more expensive than buying sugar so that is the only drawback I have found with it.

John57
Post 13

What about using honey as a sugar substitute?

That would be considered a natural product and I have heard it is sweeter than sugar so you wouldn't need to use as much of it. There are also other properties in honey that are good for you, and I don't think it would cause your blood sugar to spike as much either.

bagley79
Post 12

I am not diabetic and don't know what I would do if I had to rely on artificial sugar substitutes. I am scared to use any of the sugar substitutes mentioned whether they are approved by the FDA or not.

It seems like everyone is all excited about them when they first come out, then later on down the line you hear they cause cancer or something like that.

I would rather use sugar in moderation than any of the artificial sweeteners that many people use every day. I also like to look for natural sugar substitutes or sweeteners and limit my sugar as much as I can.

wavy58
Post 11

I'm glad that sugar substitutes exist for diabetics. Being unable to eat any sweet food ever again would be a terrible thing.

However, I'm not diabetic, and I hate the taste of sugar substitutes. They just taste fake to me, like the sweetness they impart just isn't real.

The only exception to this is isomalt. I've had hard candies sweetened with this, and I couldn't tell the difference between them and the kind that contained real sugar.

Kristee
Post 10

Aspartame is definitely not the best sugar substitute. I have heard that it can cause depression, cancer, and fibromyalgia in someone who uses it regularly.

I used to drink diet sodas to lose weight, and they were all sweetened with aspartame. I didn't particularly like the taste, but I figured they were helping me keep off the weight.

After I heard from multiple reliable sources all the damage it can do, I stopped drinking diet sodas. I did start feeling better than I had in months. I had just been feeling achy and tired for no reason, but that went away once I eliminated aspartame from my diet.

healthy4life
Post 9

I chew a lot of sugar-free gum, and xylitol is the sugar substitute that many of these gums have in them. It's great for you teeth, because it can prevent cavities, so I make it a point to chew a piece of gum after every meal.

However, I have heard that xylitol can kill a dog. One of my neighbors said that his dog died after eating some cake that had been sweetened with xylitol. So, I keep my gum up in the cabinet where my dogs can't reach it.

kylee07drg
Post 8

Sucralose is a relatively safe sugar substitute. I've read that our bodies don't absorb much of it, and it just passes through as waste.

So, really it's only purpose is to make foods taste better. You can't get fat from eating sucralose, because it has no calories. Using it as a sugar substitute sounds like a good diet plan for someone with a major sweet tooth.

anon113773
Post 7

Sucralose doesn't "taste like sugar." That's just an advertising lie. It's sweet, yes, but with an unpleasant aftertaste that is nothing like sugar.

anon111605
Post 6

Cheers to this site for not parroting junk science fear mongering.

anon81188
Post 5

How can you promote aspertame or sucralose when the are scientifically proven to be harmful?

anon64907
Post 4

Is there a safe limit you can consume? Like how many packages per day?

anon41935
Post 3

Every single one of the sugars you listed has known unhealthy side effects including birth mutations, cancer and liver failure. I think that is quite important to at least mention above.

anon21489
Post 2

Hi, I am curious why you chose not to include any of the information about how un-healthy aspartame is?

surreallife
Post 1

I have read that sugar substitutes might not be the best thing if you want to slim down. Some studies on animals have supported that theory. This is not conclusive yet, and studies have not been done on humans, but it appears that using sugar substitutes instead of sugar leads to overeating.

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