Artificial Sweeteners

I’m living a relatively sugar free life but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to enjoy sweet tasting food and beverages.  Why?  Artificial (intense) sweeteners.  The FDA has approved several including:

Aspartame - an artificial sweetner that is ubiquitous in American society, occuyping a place in most diet sodas, Crystal Light and a host of other foods. It is know as “NutraSweet”. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is synthesized rather than extracted. Despite controversies concerning its saftey (and some wild claims), aspartame is viewed by the FDA as one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives every approved.

Sucralose - an artificial sweetener that is not digested which makes it non-caloric. Incredibly, it is 600 times as sweet as sugar and, unlike aspartame, is suitable for baking (i.e., stable when heated). The most common brand name is Splenda although it is also marketed under the names SucraPlus, Candys and others.

Stevia - as natural extracted from a plant in the sunflower family, the sweetener has a slower onset and longer duration than sugar but may have an after taste. Interestingly, it was once banned in the United Staets and the European Commission are currently deciding whether to approve it. However, recent studies suggest no adverse effects and that stevia may improve insulin sensitivity.

Saccharin – found in Sweet ‘N Low was once thought to cause cancer until scientists discovered that the animal model (rats) was invalid. Warnings have been removed and the sweetener has found a resurgance of use.

My favorate is Granulated Spenda – I use it every morning on my multi-grain cereal (yum).