Sugar substitutes and sweeteners – differences
Sweeteners are often used to influence the taste of certain foods. The main focus here is on sugar substitutes and sweeteners.
- Sugar substitutes – Sugar substitutes are also called sugar alcohols and are far lower in calories than regular sugar, as erythritol is completely calorie-free. Thus, the substances allow the blood sugar level to rise only minimally. In addition, they do not promote tooth decay compared to sugar, which often makes them an alternative to sugar-free sweets.
- Sweeteners – Sweeteners have a much stronger sweetening power than sugar and at the same time hardly any calories. Some of them are natural, but others are created in the laboratory. Compared to sugar substitutes, sweeteners are not simply used as normal sugar substitutes due to their high sweetening power. They are available in tablet or liquid form.
Approval of both sweeteners
What about the approval of the two sweeteners here in the EU? And do certain notices apply to the products themselves?
- If sugar substitutes or sweeteners are used for certain foods, this no longer has to be labeled on the goods themselves since 2014. The note “sweetener” is sufficient. However, the list of all ingredients should include the name of the substance used.
- According to the consumer center, eight different sugar substitutes are currently approved in the EU: xylitol (birch sugar), erythritol, sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt, lactitol, and maltitol and polyglycerol syrup.
- The following sweeteners are also permitted in the EU: stevia, acesulfame, advantame, aspartame, cyclamate, sucralose, thaumatin, neohesperidin, steviol glycosides, neotame, aspartame-acesulfame salt, and saccharin.
Are the sweeteners harmless to health?
In contrast to conventional sugar, the two sweeteners prove to be low in calories, less caries-promoting, and therefore sound completely harmless to health. But how does it look in reality?
- Sugar substitutes – There is no limit value for use in various foods. There is therefore no fixed maximum for daily consumption.
- However, it is true that too large amounts of sugar alcohol can lead to flatulence, diarrhea, and general stomach pain. If a product contains more than 10 percent of a sugar substitute, a warning about stomach problems must be noted.
- Sweetener – With sweeteners, on the other hand, there are fixed amounts that should not be exceeded on a daily basis. These are indicated on the product. If you stick to the recommended daily amounts, sweeteners are also harmless.
- However, caution should be exercised, especially with the substance aspartame. In the long run, this changes the intestinal flora and it can even cause diabetes. The questions surrounding aspartame are currently still being researched.
- While sugar substitutes can be consumed without concern, you should comply with the daily maximum amount for sweeteners. So far, however, both are considered harmless.
- Ultimately, however, it does not mean that you are consuming fewer calories because of the sweeteners. However, even though they are lower in calories than sugar, more of them must be used. The exceptions are erythritol since the substance has no calories, and xylitol, which has the same sweetening power as sugar.
- Since it will certainly be easier for you to eat more sugar-free foods, sweeteners are not optimal if you want to lose weight. If you are interested in a life without sugar, neither sugar substitutes nor sweeteners are suitable.