As much as we Americans want to lose weight, we also want our just desserts. But how can we satisfy our sweet tooth and still fit into our skinny jeans?
The answer: sugar substitutes. But are they safe? Which is better to use? HOW do we use them? Below is a brief summary of your options and what they have to offer. Check them out and decide for yourself which you want on your shelf.
Sweet ’N Low® (Saccharin / Sugar Twin)
1 tablespoon of Sweet ’N Low® has 0 calories
Back in 1977, saccharin (chemically known as benzosulfimide) was banned because some studies linked huge doses of it to bladder cancer in rats. Since then, further research has indicated that this is not a risk for humans, as concluded by both the National Cancer Institute and the FDA. Saccharin is 200-700 times sweeter than sugar and contains no calories. Not intended for baking. (¼ cup sugar is equal to 2 tsp of Sweet ’N Low®.)
Equal® (NutraSweet® / Aspartame)
1 packet of Equal® has 4 calories
Aspartame is a combination of two amino acids (protein components) called aspartic acid and phenylalanine, plus methyl alcohol. It is 160-220 times sweeter than sugar, but contains almost no calories. It can be used in cooking, though some of the sweetness is lost when baked at high temperatures for a long time. Although there are stories circulating about bad effects from consuming aspartame, there is no scientific data to back up these claims. It has been used widely for over 20 years, and the AMA, WHO and FDA have concluded that it is safe in moderate amounts. People with a rare disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU) are warned, however, not to consume aspartame, because they cannot metabolize the phenylalanine. 24 packets is equal to 1 cup sugar.
Equal® Granular (NutraSweet® / Aspartame)
1 tsp of Equal® Granular has 2 calories
See above for more information about Equal®
SPLENDA® (Sucralose) Also available in some stores by store brand name, i.e. Walmart® has Altern.
1 tablespoon of Splenda® has 6 calories
The only sweetener made from sugar. It is touted as a “natural” product, but is actually a synthetic compound produced by chemically processing sugar through chlorination which passes undigested through the body. Measures cup for cup like sugar.
1 packet has 4 calories
One packet offers the same sweetness as 2 teaspoons of sugar. 24 packets equals one cup of sugar.
SPLENDA® Sugar Blend
½ tablespoon of Splenda® Sugar Blend has 30 calories
You will only need to use ½ cup to replace 1 cup of sugar.
SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend
½ tablespoon of Splenda® Brown Sugar Blend has 30 calories
You will only need to use ½ cup to replace 1 cup of brown sugar.
Stevia and Truvia™
1 tablespoon of both, Stevia and Truvia™ have 0 calories
They can be used in baking.
Stevia is derived from the leaves of a plant in South America and is marketed as a natural dietary supplement. It is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar and has a mild aftertaste like licorice, but is calorie-free. (1 tbsp of sugar is equivalent in sweetness to 1¼ tsp of truvia.) Truvia is the brand name of the extract rebiana from the stevia plant that Cargill and The Coca-Cola® Company have launched. The FDA has never approved stevia for use as a sweetener. The fact that it has been trapped in regulatory limbo is due to conflicting reports that it might cause potentially cancerous mutations or reproductive problems. However, the studies' methodologies were criticized and the stevia proponents charged that artificial-sweetener makers just wanted to clear the market of competition. Until the issue is resolved, stevia can only be sold as a dietary supplement, not as a food additive.
Whey Low® Powdered Sugar
1 tablespoon of Whey Low® Powder has 12 calories
Whey Low is made of natural sugars — sucrose, fructose and lactose — not artificial ingredients. It can be used in baking. Zehner, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, developed Whey Low® after his wife, Sue, was diagnosed with diabetes in 1999. "She loves to cook and bake and hated her diabetes," he said, and that spurred him "to come up with something." And that something was Whey Low® in several forms. Zehner, who has spent many years in nutrition and the food industry, theorized that if the three sugars could be formulated the right way, they wouldn't be fully absorbed by the body, thereby making the sugar more healthful. It measures one to one with sugar.
Raw Sugar and White Sugar
1 tablespoon of sugar has 45 calories
Sugar cane is initially pressed and the juice is then mixed with lime to achieve the desired ph balance and to help settle out impurities. The resulting liquid is reduced through evaporation, then a centrifuge used to separate sugar crystals. It is then dried further to produce granules. Mill white sugar is the result of sulphur dioxide being introduced to the cane juice before evaporation. It effectively bleaches the mixture.
In the production of refined white sugar, the raw sugar syrup is mixed with a heavy syrup and run through a centrifuge again to take away the outer coating of the raw sugar crystals.
Phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide are then added to the juice which then combine and absorb or trap impurities. Alternatively, carbon dioxide is used to achieve the same effect. The resulting syrup is then filtered through a bed of activated carbon to remove molasses and then crystallized a number of times under vacuum. It is then further dried to produce white refined sugar like we buy in the store.
1 tablespoon of brown sugar has 48 calories