Types of Sweetener

Types of Sweetener


Contrary to popular belief, not all sugars are non-nutritive. While nutritive sweeteners are sugars such as dextrose, fructose, honey, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, sucrose; sugar alcohols (erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol) and artificial sweeteners (acesulfame potassium, advantame, aspartame, saccharin) are classified as non-nutritive sweeteners. 


Nutritive sweeteners are a source of energy since they contain carbohydrates. They are also known as caloric sweeteners. Some sugars occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Also, sugars commonly found in foods include glucose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, maltose, and corn-based sweeteners. Added sugars such as sucrose, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) are used to enhance the flavor and texture of foods. 


In addition to giving sweet taste, sugar has important functions in the food industry. For example, it inhibits the microbial growth by binding water in jam, manages the color and texture of baked foods, promotes the growth of yeast for fermentation, and provides crystallization in sweet products. On the other hand, excess use of nutritive sweetener results in a risk of dental caries, risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and gastrointestinal symptoms.


Non-nutritive sweeteners are alternative for nutritive sweeteners as zero or low calorie to minimize carbohydrates and energy. Artificial sweeteners are sweeter than nutritive ones so a small amount of them is sufficient to use. Individuals use them because they want to lose weight and to decrease daily calorie intake. These sweeteners are also called as a high-intensity sweetener. The reason for this is that they are much sweeter than sucrose. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently has approved the use of artificial sweeteners like acesulfame-potassium (Ace-K), aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, and stevia. There is no evidence that they are carcinogenic, mutagenic, cytotoxic, or teratogenic. However, since saccharin and its many alternatives have health hazards, they were forbidden in many countries. Some of the non-nutritive sweeteners can be seen in the next table.



Relative sweetness to sugar

Energy (kcal/g)

Acceptable daily intake

Approved uses




5 mg/kg of body weight

Tabletop sweetener, a wide range of foods, beverages, and non-food item, can be used in baked foods




50 mg/kg of body weight

General-purpose of sweetener

Acesulfame potassium



15 mg/kg of body weight

Chewing gums, instant coffees, teas, gelatins, and no dairy creamers




5 mg/kg of body weight

General-purpose of sweetener, stable at high temperatures




12 mg/kg of body weight

General-purpose of sweetener, safe for diabetics

•Acesulfame potassium (Sunett)

•Aspartame  (Equal/Nutrasweet)

•Saccharin (Sweet 'n' Low)

•Sucralose (Sucra Plus/Splenda)


Moreover, Stevia is an exception for high-intensity sweetener because it is produced naturally and It does not contain artificial ingredients.


Sugar alcohols are other non-nutritive sweetener types. They are found in fruits and vegetables naturally but also are produced commercially in great quantities. Glycerol, mannitol, sorbitol, erythritol, and xylitol can be given as an example for sugar alcohols. They are not as sweet as an artificial sweetener. For instance, Xylitol is not sweet as sucrose and it is used in chewing gum to give a cooling sensation in the mouth. It has no significant side effects. On the contrary, it reduces dental caries. Also, it is non-cariogenic.


To sum up, it is generally recommended to reduce the non-nutritive sweeteners but it is known that nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners have similar metabolic effects, so sugar consumption should be limited for every individual. The American Heart Association recommends less than 25 g added sugars/d for women and less than 38 g added sugars/d for men (5.0% and 7.5% of total energy, respectively) for a 2000-kcal daily diet but more recently the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended limiting added sugar intake to a maximum of 10% of total daily energy intake. Current recommendations from the WHO state that the intake of free sugars should be reduced to less than 10% of total energy.


CONTENT: Ceyda İpek Selçuk




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