Who does not like to eat sweets? Everybody likes it. Distribution of sweets to celebrate the occasions like wedding, birthdays, success is a common practice in Indian culture.Nowadays the incidence of Diabetes, High Blood pressure (Hypertension), Heart attacks (Myocardial Infarction), Obesity, abnormally high blood cholesterol levels (Dyslipidemia) in short, the Metabolic Syndrome is on rise at a very fast rate and that too in a comparatively younger age group. This is a big reason to worry, and the biggest culprit behind all this is the excessive consumption of Sugar. Our table sugar (Sucrose) is made up of (Glucose + Fructose). Among these Fructose is the main culprit responsible for all these problems.
Many individuals are being constantly advised by Nutritionists, Dietitians and Health Experts to cut down or to stop the intake of sugar in their diet. The sudden and complete omission of sugar from the diet becomes very difficult for many individual, since their taste buds are used to the sweetness of sugar. To help them overcome this difficulty the concept of Sugar Substitutes came forward. Sugar Substitutes are considered as a replacement for the sugar, and as a savior for those who want to cut down their sugar intake, but at the same time finding it difficult to compromise on sweet taste. Looking at this point it seems to be a good alternative for sugar, but are all these Sugar Substitutes really safe?
Before finding answer to this question, first let’s have a look at what exactly are these Sugar Substitutes.
Sugar substitutes are also called as High Intensity Sweeteners because they are much sweeter as compared to the routine table sugar (sucrose). That is why they are required in a very less quantity to impart a sweet taste to the food. They provide very few calories (Quantity required is less) as compared to sugar. The sugar substitutes are of two types
- Natural Sugar substitutes
- Artificial Sugar substitutes/Artificial Sweeteners
- NATURAL SUGAR SUBSTITUTES:
Sugar substitutes that are available naturally called as Natural sweeteners.
The Examples of Natural Sweeteners are,
- ARTIFICIAL SUGAR SUBSTITUTES (ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS):
Many of these sugar substitutes that are used commercially are Artificially Prepared through a chemical process. Thus, they are called as Artificial Sweeteners. Chemically these substances are non – carbohydrates. Has no nutritive value and a negligible calorific value. These substances stimulate our taste buds in the way similar to the table sugar does.
These artificial sweeteners being non- carbohydrate and with very low calorific value are generally recommended for Diabetic patients, to let them enjoy a sweet food without any risk of increasing their sugar levels. They are also considered beneficial for those who want to lose weight as they provide hardly any calories.
These artificial sweeteners are commonly used in the combination with each other or with high fructose corn syrup to give a sweet taste to many commercially prepared sweet products. They are routinely used in the Diet and sugar free food preparation specially made for diabetic and health conscious customers.
The common types of Artificial Sweeteners that commercially used are,
- ACESULFAME POTASSIUM
Here are some of the examples of food items in which the artificial sweeteners are commonly used,
- Carbonated Beverages like Diet Sodas and Diet soft drinks.
- Sugar free desserts and Ice creams.
- Dairy products.
- Baked Goods like Biscuits, cakes, cookies, etc.
- Tabletop sweeteners.
- Candies and confectionaries
- Chewing Gums
- Breakfast cereals
- Jam, Jelly and Marmalades
- Salad dressings and Sauces
- Toothpastes and Mouthwashes
- As a sugar free tablets to add to the tea or coffee
- Commercially prepared fruit juices
- Flavored water
Since the Artificial sweeteners are in use in wide range of commercial food products, the important question is, Are they really safe? And unfortunately, the answer is No. To understand why these artificial sweeteners are not good for our health we will have to understand each one of them separately and in detail, to start with we will study about Aspartame in the next article.