Can sweeteners replace sugar?


Excessive consumption of sugar brings many disadvantages for our health, today more people are opting for sugar substitutes or sweeteners. But are they actually that much better?

Those additives give food products such as soda or yogurt at least a sweet taste without providing as many calories as sugar. In addition, they have no impact on blood pressure levels, which is interesting for everyone, but certainly for people with overweight and diabetes. Moreover, you do not get any holes in your teeth.

Two types sweeteners

There are two main categories of sweeteners. The first type is that of the intensive sweeteners, which have a much stronger sweetening power (50 to 3000 times) than sugar, so you need little of it. These additives provide little to no calories. Think, for example, of stevia, aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin, and sucralose.

Extensive sweeteners or bulk sweeteners have a lower sweetening power than sugar, but also provide about half as many calories. They are often used for preparing sugar-free chewing gum, pastries, and cookies. Examples include maltitol, lactitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and erythritol.

Combination of sweeteners

Sweeteners differ not only in sweetening power but also in taste and chemical properties. For example, some sweeteners are not resistant to high temperatures and therefore not suitable for cooking or baking. That is why combinations of sweeteners are often used in preparations. Also, ordinary sugar and sweetener are often combined in one product, for example in soft drinks or milk drinks, to reduce the calorie content but to preserve the taste of sugar as much as possible.

Consume in moderation

All sweeteners in the food products you find here in the store have an E-number, which means that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) labels them as safe. There are stories about possible negative effects of aspartame, but they are based on studies that have since been refuted and do not make sense.

Sweeteners may be quite healthy, but consume them in moderation. It is better to get rid of an excess of sweets than to replace sugar with all kinds of additives.

Maximum daily intake

For intensive sweeteners, such as stevia, the FDA has set a recommended daily intake (ADI), the maximum daily amount of a substance (usually expressed per kilogram of body weight) that you can take throughout your life without harmful consequences.

Products with extensive sweeteners are mandatory with the statement ‘excessive use can have a laxative effect’. Foods with specific aspartame are not suitable for people with the rare inherited metabolic disease phenylketonuria (PKU), because they cannot break down the component phenylalanine, and therefore when consuming aspartame are at risk of negative effects in the brain.