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Natural and Alternative Sweeteners Martha Stone, PhD Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Shirley Perryman, MS, RD CSU Extension Specialist Marisa Bunning, PhD CSU Extension Specialist Luann Boyer Morgan County Extension Agent SWEETENERS

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Natural and Alternative Sweeteners

Martha Stone, PhD

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Shirley Perryman, MS, RD

CSU Extension Specialist

Marisa Bunning, PhD

CSU Extension Specialist

Luann Boyer

Morgan County Extension Agent

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Food Science/Food Safety/Nutrition & Health

  • Natural (Nutritive) Sweeteners

    • Sugar Alcohols

  • Alternative (Non-nutritive) Sweeteners

  • Nutrition & Health Issues

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Satisfying Human Taste Buds

  • Natural Source of Sugar

    • Sugar Cane

    • Sugar Beets

  • Sugar Most Widely Used Sweetener

  • Other Sweeteners

    • Syrups

    • Sugar Alcohols

    • Nonnutritive Sweeteners

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Functions of Sugar

  • Baked Goods

    • Texture

    • Flavor

    • Browning

    • Fermentation of Yeast

    • Extends Shelf Life

  • Body to Soft Drinks

  • Offsets Acidic, Bitter, and Salty Tastes

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Plants Produce Sugars via Photosynthesis

  • Sugar Cane, Sugar Beets, Maple Trees, Corn

  • Animal Source: Lactose-Milk Sugar

  • Sweeteners

    • Sugars, Syrups, Sugar Alcohols

    • Different Chemical Structure

    • Different Functions in Foods & Beverages

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    • Refined CHO 4 kcal/g

    • #1 Food Additive

    • Sucrose Table Sugar

    • Glucose Dextrose

    • Fructose Fruit Sugar

    • Lactose Milk Sugar

    • Maltose Malt Sugar

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    • Table Sugar

    • Sugar Cane, Sugar Beets

    • Types


    • Dextrose

    • Blood Sugar

    • Fruits, Vegetables, Honey, Corn Syrup

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    • Levulose

    • Fruit Sugar

    • HFCS

      Lactose - Least Sweet of All Sugars

    • Milk Sugar


    • Malt Sugar

    • Milk Shakes, ‘Malts,’ Candy, Beer

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    • Sugary solutions vary in:

      • Viscosity

      • CHO Content

      • Flavor

      • Price

    • Corn Syrup

    • High-Fructose Corn Syrup

    • Honey

    • Molasses

    • Maple Syrup

    • Invert Sugar

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    Corn Syrup

    • By-Product of Cornstarch Production

    • 75% Sugar, 25% H2O

    • Soft Drinks & Processed Foods

    • Dried Corn Syrup or Corn Syrup Solids

      • Dry mix beverages, sauces, instant breakfast drinks

    • Manufacture

    • DE = Dextrose Equivalent

      • High-Conversion Corn Syrups

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    High-Fructose Corn Syrup

    • HFCS

    • Intensely Sweet

    • In Many Foods

    • Replaced Sucrose in Soda/Pops

    • Clarity & Colorlessness


    • F 40%, G 35 %, Sucrose 2 %, Other Tr.

    • Honey Substitution for Sugar

    • Infused Honey Recipe

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    • Liquid By-Product of Sugar Cane or Beets

    • No More Than 75% H2O & 5 % Ash

    • Food Preparation & Rum Making

      Maple Syrup

    • Sap of Maple Trees

    • Maple Syrup Colors Develop During Boiling

    • Real40 Gallons Sap ―> 1 Gallon Syrup

      vs. Blended Corn Syrup or Cane Sugar Syrup Added

    • Maple Sugar 1 Gallon Syrup ―> 8# Maple Sugar

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    Invert Sugar

    • Clear Liquid

    • Sweeter Than Granulated Sugar

    • Resists Crystallization

    • Preferred By Professional Confectioners

    • Inversion

      • Dissolve Heat Add Acid or Enzyme ―> G + F

    • Foods

      • Confections

      • Soft Fluid Center of Chocolates

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    • Sweetness

      • Sucrose - Scored As 1

      • Type Temperature pH Other Foods

    • Solubility

      • Fructose 1 Sucrose 2 Glucose 3

      • Maltose 4 Lactose 5

      • Mouthfeel & Texture

      • Temperature

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    • Crystallization

      • Candy Making

      • Development or Inhibition

      • Noncrystalline Candy

      • Prevent Crystallization

        • Keep nuclei from forming

        • Clear sides of pan of particles

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    • Browning Reactions

      • Maillard Rxn ―> Reducing Sugars + Protein

      • Reducing Sugars

        • Glucose, Fructose, Maltose

        • Sucrose is Not

    • Carmelization,Heating Sugar

      • Dry Sugar or Sugar Solution

      • Heat Evaporate H2O

      • Smooth Brown Mixture

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    • Moisture Absorption, Hygroscopicity

      • Moistness & Texture

    • Texture

      • Bulk, Viscosity, Body

    • Fermentation

      • Beer, Wine, Cheese, Yogurts, Breads

    • Preservation

      • Inhibit Microbial Growth, Dehydrate

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    Sugar Alcohols

    • Neither Sugar nor Alcohol

      • Sugar Polyols – Structure partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol

    • Naturally Occur in Fruits and Vegetables

    • Can be Produced Synthetically

    • Sugar Free – NOT Calorie Free

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    Common Sugar Alcohols

    • Sorbitol

    • Mannitol

    • Xylitol

    • Lactitol

    • Erythritol

    • Isomalt

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    Characteristics of Sugar Alcohols

    • Sweet Taste

    • Can Mask other Sweetener Aftertaste

    • Add Bulk and Texture

    • Provide Cooling Effect or Taste

    • Inhibit Browning during Heating

    • Retain Moisture in Foods

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    Metabolism – The Good

    • Slowly & Incompletely Absorbed in Intestine

    • Requires No or Very Little Insulin

    • Doesn’t Cause Spikes in Blood Sugar

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    Metabolism – The Bad and Ugly

    • Some is not absorbed by the blood

      • Passes through the small intestine and ferments in large intestine

    • Large Amounts Produce Intestinal Gas/ Diarrhea

      • Sorbitol > than 50 grams/day

      • Mannitol > 20 grams/day

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    6 FDA Approved Compounds

    • Saccharin

    • Aspartame – 4 kcal/g but miniscule amounts

    • Acesulfame-K

    • Sucralose

    • Neotame

    • Stevia

      Most commonly used in: diet soft drinks, tabletop sweeteners, pudding, gelatin, yogurt, frozen desserts, powdered drinks, cakes, cookies

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    Safety of Alternative Sweeteners

    • Animal studies, tests with humans, and sometimes epidemiological studies

      • Methodology used advanced toxicology

    • ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake)

      ADI - the amount of a food additive, expressed as mg/kg body weight, that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without incurring any appreciable health risk.

      • Sweetener combinations not tested

      • Unreliable information on Internet

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    Alternative Sweeteners

    • Saccharin (Sweet’N Low®)

      • Discovered accidentally in 1879

      • Controversy peaked in 70’s

      • ADI = 2.5 mg/kg of body weight

      • Species-specific high dose phenomenon

      • Stores well but not heat stable

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    Alternative Sweeteners

    Aspartame (EqualTM, NutrasweetTM, SpoonfulTM)

    • Discovered in 1965, FDA approved in 1981

    • ADI = 50 mg/kg body weight (about 24 diet sodas)

    • Made by combining the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine with methanol

    • Subset of population sensitive to breakdown products

    • Must carry phenylketonuria

    • warning

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    Alternative Sweeteners

    • Acesulfame-K (Sunette®, Sweet One)

    • Discovered in 1967

    • FDA approved in 1988

    • ADI = 15 mg/kg

    • Used in chewing gums, dry beverage mixes and soft drinks

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    Alternative Sweeteners

    • Sucralose (SplendaTM)

      • Discovered in 1976, FDA approved in 1998

      • ADI = 15 mg/kg

      • Made by adding chlorine to sugar molecules

        • 3 OH replaced by 3 Cl

      • Not absorbed, excreted in urine

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    Alternative Sweeteners


    • FDA approved in 2002

    • ADI = under review

    • 8000 x sweeter than sugar

    • Also made from aspartic acid and phenylalanine

      • Not metabolized to phenylalanine

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    Alternative Sweeteners


    • Discovered centuries ago, FDA approval in 2008

    • Made by removing glycosides from stevia leaves

    • Rebaudioside A is extract (Rebiana)

    • More animal studies requested

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    Substitutions may increase food safety risk

    Other Sweeteners

    • Glycyrrhizin – from licorice root

    • L-Sugars

    • Thaumatin – from W. African plant

    • Tagatose – has GRAS status

    • Dihydrochalcones – from citrus peel

    • Neohesperidine

    • Trehalose – found in honey, mushrooms

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    Use of Nonnutritive Sweeteners

    • All nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS) currently on the market are considered safe for:

      • Pregnant women

      • Children

      • Hyperlipidemias

      • Diabetes and Glycemic Response

      • Dental Caries

    • Bottom Line:

      • Use of nonnutritive sweetened beverages may replace more nutritious foods, particularly in the diets of pregnant women and children.

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    Sweeteners and Obesity

    • No definitive link between obesity and sweetener intake has been confirmed in research studies.

    • Do liquid calories (HFCS) promote weight gain?

      • Beverages less satiating

      • Solid foods with or without HFCS may be high in calories

      • Decreased physical activity contributes to weight gain

    • NNS have potential to promote weight loss

      • Provides sweet taste without calories

      • Saves 16 calories per teaspoon of sweetening

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    Caution and Controversy

    • Equal (Aspartame): Should be avoided by those who have the rare genetic disorder—PKU

    • Sugar Alcohol: When counting carbohydrates, those with diabetes should include half of the sugar from the sugar alcohol.

    • Saccharin: Possible carcinogen according to CSPI—increases risk for bladder cancer

    • Individual reactions: Headaches, allergies, etc.

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    Use of Sweeteners and Obesity

    • Research has not shown that NNS contribute to weight gain by increasing appetite and food intake.

    • Excessive consumption of HFCS (10% of kcal)

      • Main sugar in processed foods

        • Soft drinks (plus other beverages) primary source

      • Limit foods containing HFCS to 1st, 2nd or 3rd

    • Average intake of added sugar for all Americans is 22.2 teaspoons/day = 355 calories

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    Control Excess Weight

    Moderate calorie consumption from

    added sugar from any source.

    Include moderate amounts

    of low calorie sweeteners.

    • Eat healthfully and

    • exercise to manage weight.

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    AHA’s Recommendations for Added Sugars and Heart Health

    • Added sugar: sugars and syrups that are added to foods during processing or preparation, including sugars and syrups added at the table.

      • Sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose

      • Corn syrup

      • High fructose corn syrup

      • Concentrated fruit juice

      • Honey

    • Does not include naturally occurring sugars in fruits and milk.

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    Major Sources of Added Sugars

    Food Categories

    % Added Sugars Consumed







    Regular Soft Drinks

    Sugars and candy

    Cakes, cookies, pies

    Fruit drinks (ades/punches)

    Dairy desserts/milk products (ice cream, sweetened yogurt, and sweetened milk)

    Other grains (cinnamon toast and honey-nut waffles)

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    Intake of Added Sugar

    • 1970-2005—Sugar intake increased (USDA)

      • From 25 tsp/ day (400 kcal)

      • To 29.8 tsp/day (476 kcal)

    • 2001-2005—Sugar intake increased (NHANES)

      • 22.2 tsp/day (355 kcal)—all persons

      • 34.3 tsp/day (549 kcal)—14-18 yr old children

    • Conclusion: Americans consume too much sugar

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    Consumption of Added Sugars

    • Sweetened beverages are responsible for a third of the added sugar intake in the U.S.

      • 1970-2000 per person daily consumption of caloric soft drinks increased 70%

      • 7.8 oz to 13.2 oz.

    • Soft drinks linked to:

      • Increased caloric intake

      • Increase in body weight

      • Poor nutrition

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    AHA Guidelines for Sugar Intake

    • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.

      “Many snack foods and beverages….tend to be low in vitamins and minerals and the calories add up quickly. Also, drinking calorie-containing beverages may not make you feel full. This could tempt you to eat and drink more than you need and gain weight.”

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    AHA Guidelines for Sugar Intake

    • Check the ingredient list for added sugars.

    • Know your recommended caloric intake based on your age, physical activity level and weight, including your discretionary calorie allowance.

      • 1600 kcal diet = 8% total calories (132)

        • Used for children aged 4 to 8 years of age

      • 1800 kcal diet = 11% total calories (195)

      • 2200 kcal diet = 13% total calories (290)

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    Nutritive vs. NonNutritive Sweeteners

    8 oz. = 100 calories

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    Give your health message IMPACT!

    • Insightful

    • Motivating

    • Positive vs. negative

    • Action oriented information

    • Choices

    • Tested by science

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    Anderson, J., Young, L. 2008. Sugar and Sweeteners. CSU Ext Fact Sheet # 9.301

    Brown, A. 2008. Understanding Food Principles & Preparation, 2nd edition. Thomson Wadsworth, Belmont, CA

    Cohen, S., Arnold, L., Emerson, J. Safety of Saccharin. Agro Food Industry hi-tech, 19 (6): 24-28.

    Kroger, M., Meister, K., Kava, R. 2006. Low-Calorie Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes: A Review of the Safety Issues. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and food Safety. Vol. 5 (2) 25-47.

    Renwick, A. G. The intake of intense sweeteners – an update review. 2006. Food Additives and Contaminants, 23(4): 327-338

    Stevia (ADA Hot Topic, Date of Release: June 2009)

    Position Paper from ADA: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners, 2004

    AHA Scientific Statement for Dietary Sugars and Cardiovascular Health