See if you can separate fact from fiction when it comes to choosing a sugar substitute.
1) Artificial sweeteners have been around a long time: which was approved for use first?
2) Which artificial sweetener is made from sugar?
a) Sweet ‘N Low
d) Sweet One
3) True or False: “Sugar alcohols” contain neither sugar nor alcohol.
4) True or False: “Sugar-free” foods have few or no calories.
5) Which 4 artificial sweeteners are approved for use by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration?
a) Sucrose, maltose, dextrose and fructose
b) Saccharine, mannitol, xylitol and lactose
c) Sucralose, saccharine, acesulfame K and aspartame
d) Stevia, xylitol, fructose and dextrose
(6) True or False: All artificial sweeteners can be used for cooking
1. C: Saccharine is oldest, invented in 1879. Although it is approved for use by the FDA, scientists continue to study saccharine. Moderate consumption is recommended.
2. B: Splenda, or sucralose, is manufactured using a chemical process that modifies a sucrose (sugar) molecule. It is not a “natural” sugar. It’s an artificial sweetener and is about 600 times sweeter than sugar. It’s also approved by the FDA for moderate use.
3. True. Also known as polyols, sugar alcohols include maltitol, sorbital, mannitol and xylitol. They are made from plants and are not calorie or carbohydrate-free. According to the International Food Information Council, sugar alcohols range from 1.5 to 3 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for sucrose or other sugars. If eaten in moderate amounts they have little effect on blood glucose. Beware: they can have an uncomfortable laxative effect when eaten in excess.
4. False. As noted above, sugar alcohols are not calorie-free and average about 2.4 calories per gram (about 40% fewer than sugar). Find any packaged food’s total carbohydrate and calorie count by just reading the nutrition facts panel on the package. Remember that all numbers listed represent one serving. Often times a package that you think contains one serving actually contains two or more!
5. C: sucralose (Splenda), saccharine (Sweet ‘n Low), acesulfame K (Sweet One), and aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet) are approved by the FDA as artificial sweeteners. Sucrose, maltose, dextrose, lactose and fructose are all different forms of natural sugar, and have 4 calories per gram. Mannitol and xylitol are sugar alcohols, or polyols.
6. False. Aspartame loses its sweetness when heated, making it inappropriate for cooking and baking. Sucralose, saccharine and acesulfame K do not lose their sweetness when heated. Baking requires special recipes because removing sugar from the recipe affects the baked item’s texture. Sucralose (Splenda) makes a special baking product that contains additional carbohydrate.