Published on December 17th, 2012 | by Peggy3
I’m sure you’ve heard the rumours, sugar substitutes apparently lead to cancer, neurological damage and weight gain. What’s true and what’s not? What’s so wrong with sugar, at just 15 calories per serving…it can’t really be that bad for you, or can it? In moderation, sugar isn’t bad for the regular Joe off the street, but we all know we sometimes struggle with moderation, and that’s where we get into trouble.
Aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, stevia: From yogurt to diet pop, artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are everywhere, appealing to the growing number of consumers who want to watch their weight. I don’t know about you, but I’m a tad confused with the many options out there.
So what are the choices?
Discovered in 1879, saccharin was the first artificial sweetener on the market. It’s approximately three hundred times sweeter than regular table sugar and it has a bitter aftertaste. It is stable at high temperatures, so it can be added to your favourite cookie recipe, as long as you remember it is 300 times sweeter and modify the amount added. Two brands of saccharin are Sweet’N Low and Sugar Twin.
This artificial sweetener was discovered in 1965 but didn’t hit stores until the 80’s. It has zero calories and is approximately 200 times sweeter than table sugar. Cooking with it is a no-no, because it isn’t stable at high temperatures, it’s best at room temperature. Aspartame is marketed under the brands of NutraSweet and Equal.
At 600 times sweeter than regular table sugar, this option takes very little to sweeten the pot. Having been around since the mid 70’s, it’s one of the few options that is made from actual sugar but with an altered molecular structure. It’s found in many products due to it’s high temperature stability. It can be purchased under the brand name, Splenda.
Stevia, a plant that grows in Paraguay and Brazil, has been getting plenty of buzz as an alternative to chemically produced artificial sweeteners. It is approximately two hundred fifty times sweeter than table sugar and only recently was approved by Health Canada as an additive in food and beverage products.
There are controversies surrounding all of the substitute sweeteners, so consumers need to be aware of the potential side effects of whatever they choose to use. As with most products on the market, there are pros and cons, and educating yourself is always a good idea. Myself, I stay away from all things sweet…hubby says I’m sweet enough. ; )