Updated: May 7
All you need to know about Natural & Artificial Sweeteners.
Sweeteners can either be of natural origin or of synthetic. Natural sweeteners are obtained from sources such as plants. Fruits or honey and have been a part of the human diet for centuries. In fact, the natural sweeteners were the only sweetening source known to mankind until sucrose or the table sugar became popular at the beginning of the 20th century.
Natural sweeteners do not result in blood glucose rise due to their low glycemic index. Natural sweetening sources are also absorbed much slowly by the human body as compared to regular sugar. Hence the natural sweeteners like honey, fruit pulps, dates, palm sugar and other similar sweeteners are considered beneficial for people with diabetes, obesity and health-conscious individuals plan for low calories intake.
Stevia is one of the most popular natural sweeteners of the 21st Century across the globe. Stevia plant species having different varieties, but the most widely used is the stevia rebaudiana because of its extraordinary sweetening properties. Stevia plants, which is a native of the subtropical, tropical south and Central American regions. The leaves of this plant have been in use for about 1500 years. The local people of two regions in Brazil and Paraguay used the leaves as sweeteners for tea and medicines.
Rebaudioside A and Steviosides are extracted and purified from the leaves of Stevia Rebaudiana. Rebaudioside A 97% (purity) is 200 times sweeter than table sugar and Steviosides 95% (purity) is 150 times sweeter than table sugar.
Extracts from the stevia leaves are available as sweeteners in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Israel, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina. In December 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status to rebaudioside A.
Stevia apart from its sweetening properties, it also has many medicinal benefits. Some people take stevia for the purposes such as lowering blood pressure, treating diabetes, heartburn, high uric acid levels in the blood, for weight loss, to stimulate the heart rate and for water retention in the body.
Synthetic or Artificial Sweeteners
Synthetic or artificial sweeteners are developed by scientists in Labs. Artificial sweeteners impart a sweet taste to food or beverages without adding extra calories. Most of the countries regulating authorities have approved certain artificial sweeteners with the limits on average daily intake dose to the benefit of taste of sweet without adding calories into the human body.
It's imperative to know what you are putting into your body at the cost of trying to make lifestyle changes. Artificial sweeteners do not get metabolized in the body, but they may interact with the gut microbe leading to some health issues like Chronic fatigue, Brain tumour, Allergic reactions, Bladder cancer, Glucose intolerance, Lowering of insulin sensitivity, Carcinogenic and Neurotoxicity.
The most commonly used Synthetic or Artificial sweeteners are listed below which is being used as a sugar substitute and as sugar-free products.
Saccharin has been in use as a non-caloric sweetener for more than a century now. It is the first artificial sweetener that was synthesized in 1879. It is nearly 300 times sweeter than the sugar.
Aspartame was discovered in 1965 and it is nearly 200 times sweeter than table sugar. The unique property of aspartame is that it gets metabolized into its basic components such as amino acids, aspartic acid, phenylalanine and a small amount of ethanol. These compounds are also found in other food items such as meat, milk, fruits and vegetable.
Sucralose is about 600 times sweeter than table sugar, due to its heat stability; sucralose is used commonly in food items such as ice cream, dairy beverages, bakery and Indian sweets.
Acesulfame K (Potassium)
Acesulfame K has good solubility. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is used commonly to impart a sweet taste to liquid non-alcoholic beverages.
Neotame is 8,000 times sweeter than sugar and is chemically related to aspartame. it is being used rarely as compared to other artificial sweeteners.
The argument between artificial and natural sweeteners is a skewed debate for decades. The choice of individual's on natural sweeteners over synthetic or artificial sweeteners depends on awareness & affordability.
What is your Choice? Natural Sweetener or Artificial Sweetener?
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