The question of sweetness

FOR DIETERS AND DIABETICS Try sweets made with sugar substitutes

FOR DIETERS AND DIABETICS Try sweets made with sugar substitutes  

Who doesn't like a sweet, especially if it can be eaten without a sense of guilt?

Artificial sweeteners are a modern miracle, but most people approach them with the fear they ought to reserve for real sugar. After all, artificial sweeteners provide sweetness without calories, and they do not flood one's teeth with corrosive juices. Perhaps it is the guilt factor: we do not feel comfortable enjoying sweetness without having to pay a price for it. There are also unanswered questions about these products. Is it true they can cause cancer? Only five artificial sweeteners are approved for human consumption. They are aspartame, saccharin, Acesulfame-K, Neotame and Sucralose. Each has been the subject of rumours and research. Here is the latest on all of them: Aspartame. This is the stuff present in diet colas and most non-saccharin artificial sweeteners available in the market. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Essentially calorie-free when you consider the quantities consumed. A detailed review of more than 100 clinical studies of aspartame shows that it is safe for human consumption. However, people with the rare genetic disorder, phenylketonuria, should avoid aspartame.Saccharin. First discovered in 1879, and is probably the most controversial. In the 1970s, studies linked saccharin with bladder cancer in rats, and a ban on human consumption appeared imminent. Saccharin was sold with a mandatory label saying it was a potential cancer-causing agent. However, more than 30 studies later, it is clear that the cancer fears are unfounded. Acesulfame-K is more than 200 times sweeter than sugar, and more than 90 studies have proved its safety. Neotame is up to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar, and it is structurally similar to aspartame, which raised some concerns about safety in phenylketonurics. However, the release of phenylalanine from Neotame is so low that an aspartame-like warning is probably not necessary for phenylketonurics. Sucralose is made from sucrose-common table sugar. However, it is not digested by the body. Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than table sugar, and studies show that it is safe for human consumption. Artificial sweeteners help lower calorie consumption, but they are only part of the solution for dieters and diabetics.RAJIV.M

Recommended for you