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Also known as sugar substitutes

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Sweeteners definition:

They are low or zero calorie chemical compounds used as sugar substitutes to sweet foods and beverages to reduce its calorie content.

Sweeteners classification:

1-Nutritive sweeteners:

(add small amount of calories to body)

                        sugar alcohols (polyols)

            * Sorbitol    * mannitol

            * maltitol    * lactitol

            * xylitol

2-Non-nutritive sweeteners:

(Didn’t add any calories to body)  – also known as intense sweeteners.                    

v Natural:

*   Stevia

v Synthesized:

*   Aspartame      *  Saccharin

*   Cyclamate       *  Acesulfame – k 

*   Sucralose        *   Neotame

*   Advantame


1- Sugar alcohols:

* Sorbitol (E420):

Naturally occurring sugar substitute

It can be found in apples , pears and peaches.

It can be obtained by the (hydrogenation) reduction of glucose.

It has 50 % of the sweetness of sucrose.

It is metabolized slowly by the body.

Sold under brand names sorbo & glucitol.

Used in the processing of dried fruits , candies and cake.

* Mannitol (E 421):

It can be extracted from a wide variety of plants and can be synthesized through the hydrogenation of fructose.

It has 60 % of the sweetness of sucrose.

We can found it in candies, jams and chocolate.

* Maltitol (E 965):

It is a sugar alcohol made from maltose and has 75-90% of the sweetness of sucrose Used to replace sucrose because it has fewer calories, it does not promote tooth decay, and has a l effect on blood glucose. Like other sugar alcohols, large quantities can have a laxative effect.

* lactitol (E 966):

Lactitol is a non-natural sugar alcohol synthesized

through the hydrogenation of lactose.

It has 40 % of the sweetness of sucrose.

Lactitol is heat stable.

it is used in food to replace sucrose in gelly, jams, marmalades, chocolate and chewing  gums. it is also used in pharmaceuticals as it has a mild laxative effect.

lactitol is poorly absorbed in the small intestine as un changed lactitol.


64% of lactitol is degraded by the gut micro flora into butyric acid, propionic acid and acetic acid (VFA), and absorbed in the gastro intestinal tract .

The microbial fermentation result in acidification (pH reduction)and inhibition of ammonia production; this leads to increased colonic osmotic pressure and water levels in colon that result in laxative effect (so it is used to treat conctipation) .

6.5% of lactitol is excreted un changed in the stools and in urine.


* Xylitol (E 967)

Naturally occurring sugar substitute.

It is found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables, and can be extracted from fibrous material like sugar cane bagasse. Xylitol is as sweet as sucrose with only two-thirds of energy.

It can be synthesized by the reduction of xylose.

Its use may result in temporary gastrointestinal side effects, such as flatulence and diarrhea.

We can find it in candies, jams and chocolate.

Non-nutritive sweeteners:

a- Natural:

Stevia (E 960)

It is a product found in the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana.

It has many compounds and the most important compounds are :stevioside (A & B) , rebaudioside (A,B,C,D,E) & Dulcoside.

Stevioside is the major component (5-15%)

-has a bitter taste when consumed in high quantities.

-It is 200-300 times sweeter than sucrose.

rebaudioside A (known as Rebiana)

-dried leaves contains (3-4%) rebaudioside A

-It is 200-300 times sweeter than sucrose.

-Its stability decreases with increase in temperature.

-It doesn’t have any after taste.

It is approved in many food products including cereals , beverages , as well as a table top sweetener.

 ADI=12mg/kg body weight.


B- Synthetic sugar substitutes:

* Aspartame (E 951) :

It is the methyl ester of L-aspartic acid and L-phenyl alanine.

It is 180 : 200 times sweeter than sucrose and is marketed under the brand names : aspartil,equal and neutrasweet

Aspartame can be found in a wide variety of prepared foods e.g., carbonated soft drinks, chew­ing gum, gelatins, dessert mixes, puddings and fillings, frozen desserts, yogurt, and as a   tabletop sweet­ener, and some medications (e.g., vitamins and sugar-free cough drops).

It loses sweetening properties when exposed to high temperature then ,it isn’t recommended for baking (it can be added to food at the end of cooking cycle).

Metabolism of aspartame occurs in the intestinal lumen and mucosal cells by proteolytic and hydrolytic enzymes.

The byproducts (aspartic acid , phenyl alanine and methanol) are released into the portal blood.

Plasma phenyl alanine levels return to normal within 4 hours of taking aspartame.

Because aspartame contains phenylalanine, the FDA has mandated packag­ing bear a warning label to prevent individuals with the rare genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) from ingesting substances containing aspartame.

Cyclamic acid(E 952)

It can be found as sodium or calcium cyclamate.

it is 30:50 times sweeter than sucrose and it is heat stable.

FDA banned its use because the findings on animals suggested that its use may increase bladder cancer in humans.

Saccharin (E 954):

It consists of benzoic sulfamide .

It has no calories and it is 300 : 700 times sweeter than sucrose.

It is marketed as Sweet’N Low and sweetens a lot of products, including baked goods, jams, chewing gum, canned fruit, candy, dessert toppings, and salad dressings. Saccharin is also used in cosmetic products (e.g., toothpaste, mouthwash, and lip gloss), vitamins, and medications.

foods that contain saccharin were required to carry a warning label to indicate that “saccharin is a potential cancer causing agent.” Future research show­ the safety of this product led to this decision being overturned

saccharin is not absorbed or metabo­lized by the body . It is excreted, unchanged, via the kidneys and it is completely eliminated from the body within 16 to 18 hours.

 The FDA considers saccharin safe, because it is not metabolized.

Acesulfame – K (E 950):

It is marketed as sunett and sweet one.

it is 180: 200 times sweeter than sucrose and has no calories .

It is used to decrease the bitter aftertaste of aspartame

In 2003, it was approved for general use in foods, excluding meat or poultry.

It is heat stable so it can be found in baked goods, frozen desserts, can­dies, beverages, chewing gum,  cough drops, and breath mints.

Acesulfame-K is not me­tabolized by the body and it is excreted unchanged.

Sucralose (E 955):

It is trichloro galacto sucrose

It is a sucrose molecule in which 3 hydroxyl groups are replaced with 3 chlorine atoms.

It is approximately 600 times sweeter than sucrose and it is stable under heat and over abroad range of PH conditions.

It is marketed as splenda, sukrana, sukraplus and nevella.

it can be found in frozen desserts, can­dies, gums and can be also used in baking. 

Sucralose doesn’t add any calories to body because it is not digested and passes through the gastrointestinal tract and it is eliminated in the feces unchanged.

Neotame (E 961):

It is a derrivative of aspartame

It is 7000 : 13000 times sweeter than sucrose

It is heat stable

It is used in pharmaceuticals, jams, marmalades chewing gum, juices, jellies and as a table top sweetener

It is rapidly metabolized, the major metabolic path way is hydrolysis of the methyl ester by esterases . this yields de – esterification neotame (NC – 00751) and insignificant amount of methanol.

neotame and de – esterified neotame are rapidly cleared and completely eliminated in the urine and feces within 72 hours and doesn’t accumulate in the body.


It is chemically like aspartame.

It is 20000 times sweeter than sucrose

It is 100 times sweeter than aspartame.

It was approved by FDA in 2014 .



Benefits of sweeteners:

Sweeteners are used to provide sweetness of foods

and drinks with out providing calorie intake.  

They may be used to control weight, in diabetics and in heart diseases.

They may be used also in dental care.

They may be used to neutralize the bitterness in

certain medicinal products.

Sugar alcohols are used to increase bulk and texture

of foods.

Sugar alcohols are metabolized by the body more slowly than sucrose and have a little effect on blood glucose levels.


Possible risks of sweeteners:

Commonly used sweeteners may be toxic at high

concentrations in the long term use and may cause variety of hazards including hepatotoxicity, low birth weight (saccharin), headache, (aspartame).

A study conducted in 2005 demonstrated that

aspartame caused lymphomas and leukemias in rats.

Another study conducted in 2010 demonstrated

that foods containing aspartame increase blood glucose levels the same as sucrose containing foods.

A study conducted in 2014 demonstrated that

acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin and sorbitol cause DNA damage.

Another study conducted in 2017 demonstrated

that acesulfame potassium affect the gut microbiome and increased body weight gain of males only.

High concentrations of polyols may cause diahrrea

and flatulence.

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