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Splenda good for diabetics: Best Sweeteners for Diabetes to Use Instead of Sugar

Best Sweeteners for Diabetes to Use Instead of Sugar

June 29, 2022

When it comes to diabetes, all sweeteners are not created equal. There’s a vast difference, for instance, between added sugar and diabetes-friendly sweeteners and keto-friendly sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, allulose, and erythritol.

Why? Because added sugar spikes blood sugar, and high blood sugar drives the metabolic dysregulation that defines diabetes.

A sweetener like allulose, however, has the opposite effect. Research suggests that allulose blunts the blood sugar response while simultaneously boosting fat burning.

In this article, we’ll double click on the best sweeteners for diabetes. First, though, let’s spend a moment on diabetes itself.

What is Diabetes?

When someone has diabetes, they can’t properly regulate blood sugar levels. This problem leads to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), a dangerous state that damages blood vessels and increases inflammation, among other complications.

There are three main types of diabetes: gestational diabetes (high blood sugar during pregnancy), type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce a blood sugar-regulating hormone called insulin. As a result, the person needs supplemental insulin to survive.

Type 2 diabetes is different. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is caused and perpetuated by lifestyle factors like high sugar consumption and lack of exercise.

Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

At the heart of type 2 diabetes is a condition called insulin resistance. If you’re not familiar with insulin resistance, you’re about to be.

For most people, insulin does a nice job regulating blood sugar levels. You eat carbs, blood sugar goes up, the pancreas releases insulin, and blood sugar comes down again. That’s how blood sugar regulation is supposed to work.

But for people with type 2 diabetes, insulin doesn’t work as it should. High sugar intakes combined with inactivity keep blood sugar high, insulin gets overworked, and eventually, insulin can’t bring blood sugar down to healthy levels. This is called insulin resistance.

Along with insulin resistance, the hallmarks of type 2 diabetes include:

  • High fasting blood sugar
  • High HbA1c (a measure of average blood sugar)
  • High fasting insulin
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol

Refined Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes

Today more than 37 million Americans have diabetes (that’s over 11% of the U.S. population), and 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. How did we get into this situation?

Fifty years ago, this figure was over nine times lower (4 million).

What changed? Not genes, but diets and lifestyles.

Specifically, Americans are consuming more sugar than ever before. The average American consumes around 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day—more than double the American Heart Association’s recommendation.

Chronically high sugar intake, unfortunately, leads to chronically high blood sugar. From there, it’s a short hop to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Obesity is another consequence of high sugar diets. The more sugar someone eats, the more pounds they tend to gain.

To be clear, it’s often hard to separate obesity from diabetes. Researchers have even coined the term “diabesity” to describe these intermingled states. Whatever you call it, this metabolic dysregulation increases the risk for most chronic diseases.

Low-Carb Eating and Type 2 Diabetes

To fix a diet-driven condition, you must address dietary factors. That’s where low-carb and very-low-carb diets come in.

A very-low-carb ketogenic diet (keto diet) is a promising therapy for type 2 diabetes. Why? Because keto limits the foods—starchy and sugary carbs—that raise blood sugar and drive insulin resistance.

In a 2018 study sponsored by Virta Health, researchers put 218 people with type 2 diabetes on a supervised keto diet for twelve months. The results were remarkable:

  • Average weight loss was 30.4 pounds
  • Average HbA1C declined from 7. 6% to 6.3% (60% of patients “reversed” their diabetes by this measure)
  • 94% of patients reduced or stopped insulin therapy

Low-carb and keto diets eliminate sugar by definition. What should take its place?

Top 5 Sweeteners for Diabetes

To be diabetes-friendly, a sweetener should have little to no blood sugar impact. Let’s review five non-nutritive sweeteners that meet that criterion.

#1: Sucralose

Sucralose sweeteners (like Splenda Original Sweeteners) taste and sweeten like sugar. Sucralose can be a useful tool for people managing diabetes as there is no impact on blood sugar1,2 – one of the many reasons why Splenda is the #1 recommended sweetener brand by healthcare professionals and has been safely used by millions of people around the world for over 30 years.

American Classic Cheesecake Made with Splenda Original Sweetener

#2 Stevia

Stevia leaves have a long history of treating diabetes in South America. The sweetener derived from these leaves (stevia) has a glycemic index of zero, meaning it doesn’t raise blood sugar. In fact, stevia may improve blood sugar regulation by stimulating a mild insulin response. 

Both stevia’s sweetness and anti-diabetic properties are derived from molecules called glycosides. To avoid a bitter aftertaste, look for products (like Splenda Stevia Sweetener) made with a sweet glycoside called rebaudioside D.

Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites Made with Splenda Stevia Sweetener

#3: Monk fruit

Monk fruit is similar to stevia. This plant-based sweetener has a long history of traditional use, contains zero calories, and doesn’t raise blood sugar.

Monk fruit’s active ingredient is called mogroside V. This tasty molecule not only lends sweetness but also packs an antioxidant punch. 

Check out the Splenda Monk Fruit Sweetener Jar to sweeten your coffee, tea, or baked goods. It measures, bakes, and tastes like sugar—but without the bad health effects.  

Apple Cider Blondies Made with Splenda Monk Fruit Sweetener

#4: Allulose

Speaking of sugar substitutes, have you tried allulose yet? This noncaloric sweetener not only tastes like sugar but browns like it too.

The research on allulose is promising. In one human trial, consuming allulose curbed the blood sugar response and increased fat burning after a meal. And another meta-analysis on 400 people found that consuming allulose reduced post-meal blood sugar spikes by 10% on average.

#5: Erythritol

We conclude this tour of diabetes sweeteners with erythritol. Like stevia, monk fruit, and allulose, erythritol has a glycemic index of zero.

Why? Because most of the erythritol you consume is excreted intact through urine. You don’t digest or metabolize this sugar alcohol.

Wherever you might use sugar, you can use erythritol instead. Check out Splenda Monk Fruit Sweeteners for blends of monk fruit and erythritol that swap 1:1 with sugar in all your favorite concoctions.  

Sweet Sriracha Brussels Sprouts Made with Splenda Monk Fruit Sweetener

Happy Sweetening

Sucralose, stevia, monk fruit, allulose, and erythritol. None raise blood sugar levels. All are diabetes-friendly.

And all are healthy sugar substitutes for folks with or without diabetes. The less sugar we consume, the healthier we’ll be.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice taste when you sacrifice sugar. You can have your sweetener and eat it too. Your long-term health will thank you.

Written by Brian Stanton, author of Keto Intermittent Fasting, a certified health coach, and a leading authority on the keto diet. Follow Brian’s work by visiting his website at brianjstanton.com.

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1 Nichol, Alexander D. , et al. “Glycemic Impact of Non-Nutritive Sweeteners: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 72, no. 6, 15 May 2018, pp. 796–804, www.nature.com/articles/s41430-018-0170-6, 10.1038/s41430-018-0170-6. Accessed 4 Mar. 2019. 2 Johnston, Craig A, et al. “The Role of Low-Calorie Sweeteners in Diabetes.” European Endocrinology, vol. 9, no. 2, 2010, p. 96, 10.17925/ee.2013.09.02.96. Accessed 26 Sept. 2019.

Sucralose and Diabetes: Know the Facts

If you have diabetes, you know why it’s important to limit the amount of sugar you eat or drink.

It’s generally easy to spot natural sugars in your drinks and food. Processed sugars can be a bit more challenging to pinpoint.

Keep reading to learn more about the processed sweetener sucralose and how it can affect your blood sugar levels.

Sucralose, or Splenda, is an artificial sweetener often used in place of sugar.

One of the major benefits of sucralose is that it has zero calories (1). You may find this helpful if you’re trying to manage your daily calorie intake or dieting.

Sucralose is sweeter than sugar (1), leading many people to favor the substitute over the original. Because of this, you need only a small amount of sucralose to get a very sweet taste in your food or beverage.

Substituting sucralose for sugar may help you lose weight.

A review of randomized controlled trials found that artificial sweeteners like sucralose can reduce body weight by about 1.7 pounds on average (2).

Unlike some other sweeteners, sucralose does not promote tooth decay (3).

Sucralose may affect your gut health.

The friendly bacteria in your gut are extremely important for your overall health, benefiting your immune system, heart, weight and other health aspects.

Rodent studies indicate that sucralose can modify intestinal microbiota and may eliminate some of this good bacteria, leading to inflammation of internal organs, like the liver (4).

In vivo studies show that sucralose may alter hormone levels in your digestive tract, leading to abnormalities that may contribute to metabolic disorders like obesity or even type 2 diabetes (5).

Research also shows that metabolic alterations caused by sucralose can lead to glucose intolerance, which increases your risk for diabetes (6).

More research is necessary to fully understand the link between sucralose and gut health, including more human studies.

But it is not entirely harmless.

Cooking with sucralose may also be dangerous.

In high temperatures — such as during cooking or baking — sucralose can disintegrate, forming potentially toxic chlorinated compounds (7).

Based on the available data, potential health risks associated with cooking with sucralose are not fully understood. You may want to think twice before cooking with sucralose.

Artificial sweeteners like sucralose are marketed as sugar substitutes that don’t raise blood sugar levels, making them a safer choice for diabetics.

While these claims seem promising, they have yet to be confirmed by multiple large studies (8).

Previous studies have found sucralose to have little to no effects on blood sugar levels in individuals of average weight who regularly used sucralose (9).

But more recent research suggests that it can cause blood sugar levels to spike in other populations.

A small study found that sucralose elevated blood sugar levels by 14% and insulin levels by 20% in 17 people with severe obesity who didn’t regularly consume artificial sweeteners (10).

These results indicate that sucralose may elevate blood sugar levels in new users but have little effect on regular consumers.

For individuals with diabetes who do not produce insulin or do not respond to the hormone properly, a spike in blood sugar levels could cause serious health problems.

If you have diabetes, you may want to limit your sucralose intake.

You may not realize it, but sucralose is likely a part of your diet already. If you like to drink low-calorie soft drinks and juices, eat diet snacks, or chew gum, sucralose is likely the sweetener you taste.

Whether you already consume sucralose or are thinking about adding it to your diet, talk to your doctor to see if substituting sucralose for sugar in your diet is the right move for you.

If your doctor approves, you should first consider everything that you’re currently drinking and eating and look for areas to substitute sugar with sucralose.

For example, if you take sugar in your coffee, you may gradually replace the sugar with sucralose.

You may notice that you don’t need as much sucralose as you did sugar.

Once you get used to the taste of sucralose, you may want to incorporate it into larger recipes — but be mindful that cooking with sucralose may be unsafe.

According to the FDA, the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) level for sucralose in the United States is 5 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day (11).

For a person who weighs 150 pounds, that comes out to roughly 28 packets of Splenda a day.

That doesn’t mean you necessarily should consume that much Splenda.

You may want to practice moderation, especially if you have diabetes.

Sucralose may be a zero-calorie sugar substitute that can help you lose weight, but it may raise blood sugar levels and affect your gut health.

This can lead to health consequences, especially if you have diabetes.

Before adding sucralose to your diet, check with your doctor to make sure they believe it’s the right choice for you and your diabetes management.

If you do decide to use sucralose, you may want to practice moderation and monitor your blood sugar levels after consumption.

You can purchase sucralose by its brand name, Splenda, at your local grocery store.

harm and benefit, which is better, sugar or substitutes, how many calories are in them

Hearing test

Daniil Davydov

medical journalist

Author profile

If used correctly, sweeteners not only do not harm health, but can also be useful.

For example, the British Diabetes Association believes that sugar substitutes help reduce calories and control blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. However, switching to them is not necessary: ​​a balanced diet also helps to reduce the consumption of excess calories.

See a doctor

Our articles are written with love for evidence-based medicine. We refer to authoritative sources and go to doctors with a good reputation for comments. But remember: the responsibility for your health lies with you and your doctor. We don’t write prescriptions, we give recommendations. Relying on our point of view or not is up to you.

What are sweeteners

Sweeteners are sweet-tasting but non-carbohydrate substances of natural or artificial origin. All sugar substitutes can be divided into two large groups.

What are sweeteners – NHS NHS

What is the difference between low calorie and no calorie sweeteners – Harvard Medical School

Low calorie sweeteners. Reduce the calorie content of marmalade, cookies, ice cream and other sugary foods. Low-calorie sweeteners can help maintain a healthy weight for people without chronic disease and are less suitable for people with diabetes because they can raise blood glucose levels.

Natural low-calorie sweeteners are a chemical class of sugar alcohols found in small amounts in many fruits and vegetables. Contrary to the name, these substances do not contain ethanol. In terms of chemical structure, sugar alcohols are more similar to carbohydrates, but are absorbed much more slowly. A gram of such a substance contains two to three times fewer calories than a gram of sugar.

Sugar alcohols include xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol, which are almost as sweet as sugar, and erythritol, which is 60-70% sweeter than sugar. These substances do not break down when heated, so they can be added, for example, to coffee or tea. And they, unlike sugar, do not cause tooth decay, so xylitol and sorbitol are added to chewing gum.

Xylitol and sorbitol do not cause cavities – Journal of Caries Research

There are many low-calorie artificial sweeteners, but aspartame is the most commonly used in the food industry. In its structure, this substance is closer to proteins than to carbohydrates, as it consists of two “bricks” – amino acids – aspartic acid and phenylalanine.

Aspartame has less calories than sugar and is about 200 times sweeter. Like all protein-like substances, it breaks down when heated, so aspartame should only be added to foods that are eaten cold. For example, in ice cream or soda.

Calorie-free sweeteners. Reduce the calorie content of sugary foods without increasing blood glucose levels. Suitable not only for people who would like to lose weight, but also for patients with diabetes.

How sweeter are sweeteners than sugar – American Academy of Family Physicians

Calorie-free sweeteners interact with sweet taste receptors but are not absorbed by the body. That is, calorie-free sweeteners deceive the brain: a person feels a sweet taste, but does not receive additional energy.

Calorie-free sugar substitutes also come in both natural and artificial forms. For example, natural calorie-free stevioside is obtained from the stevia herb – it is 200-400 times sweeter than sugar. And neohesperidin, which is 340 times sweeter than sugar, is isolated from bitter orange.

Examples of a calorie-free artificial sweetener include saccharin, which is 200 to 700 times sweeter than sugar, and sucralose, which is 600 times sweeter than sugar.

Both natural and artificial calorie-free sweeteners tolerate heat well. The only exception is sucralose. It is destroyed at a temperature of 120-150 ° C, so it cannot be added to baking.

Sucralose breaks down when heated – Food Chemistry magazine

Is it true that sweeteners are more harmful than sugar

Many sweeteners that are widely used by the food industry were once considered potentially hazardous substances. However, modern studies have shown that, when used correctly, sweeteners do not harm health.

Natural low calorie sweeteners. Even at a time when sugar substitutes were feared by scientists, sugar alcohols scare almost no one. And this is logical, because they are contained in vegetables and fruits in approximately the same quantities as in products where they are added instead of sugar. And since apples and carrots do not harm us, there is no reason to be afraid of sugar alcohols in pastries and ice cream.

How I gave up sugar

Most sugar alcohols are harmless unless you exceed the daily allowance of 10-20 g per day. But if you exceed the daily allowance, for example, sorbitol, diarrhea may occur. Other sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, are safe even at high doses, up to 70 grams per day. However, there are people who do not feel discomfort, even if they consume up to 200 g of xylitol per day.

According to the latest data, some sugar alcohols may even have potential health benefits. For example, in 2019In 1998, Spanish scientists came to the conclusion that sugar alcohols can serve as food for beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines, that is, they can work as prebiotics.

Effects of sugar alcohols on the gut microbiota – Advances in Nutrition

Preliminary evidence suggests that isomalt, maltitol, lactitol, and xylitol enter the colon, where beneficial microbes live, and then there is an increase in bifidobacteria. However, more high-quality research will be needed to understand whether this can somehow improve health.

Artificial low-calorie sweeteners. Some people are afraid to drink soda because they have heard that aspartame is poisonous. There is some truth in this: when it enters the body, aspartame breaks down into two amino acids, and methanol is released during this chemical reaction. However, this does not mean that this methanol can be poisoned.

The fact is that aspartame is not the only product that produces methanol in the human body. The same substance is synthesized in our intestines when we eat, for example, apples.

During the day, the human body produces 300-600 mg of methanol. In such quantity, it does not cause harm to health.

How much methanol is released in the body when a person eats apples – Alcoholism magazine

How much aspartame is in soda – Colorado State University

EFSA Aspartame Safety StatementPDF, 4. 75 MB

In methanol approximately 10% is converted in the body aspartame. Considering that one can of soda contains approximately 200 mg of this substance, it turns out that together with soda we get only 20 mg of methanol. Because it is too small to be harmful to health, the European Food Safety Authority, or EFSA, has deemed aspartame safe for health.

Natural calorie-free sweeteners. The situation with these substances resembles the situation with sugar alcohols. Stevioside, neohesperidin and similar substances are found in edible plants in approximately the same amounts as they are added to food as a sweetener.

Most international food safety organizations recognize natural, calorie-free sweeteners as harmless, provided they are consumed in recommended doses.

EFSA Stevioside Safety ConclusionPDF, 391KB

Neohesperidin is not harmful to health – Scandinavian Journal of Food

The allowable daily dose of stevioside is up to 2 mg / kg body weight per day, and neohesperidin — up to 5 mg/kg. But since these substances are very sweet, you still won’t be able to eat more.

Calorie-free artificial sweeteners. In 1978, a group of researchers found that rats fed high doses of saccharin developed bladder cancer over time. At 19In 81, saccharin was banned because it was considered a potential carcinogen for humans.

But further research has shown that bladder cancer in rats develops quite differently than in humans. Unlike rats, in our species, saccharin excreted from the body does not react with urine and does not cause the appearance of substances that provoke cancer. So saccharin is harmless to humans.

Saccharin is recognized as “non-hazardous” in the USA and abroad – the journal “Actual Oncology”

In the 2000s, it turned out that many other sweeteners, both non-caloric and caloric, can provoke cancer in rats.

However, observations of large groups of people who used saccharin, sucralose, cyclamate, aspartame, and similar neotame and advantam sweeteners for many years showed that these people did not get cancer more often than those who, in principle, did not use sweeteners. That is, sugar substitutes do not cause cancer.

Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Cause Cancer – US National Cancer Institute

Another concern scientists once had about sweeteners was that they were too sweet. The researchers were afraid that people would become accustomed to the strong sweet taste, so that fruits and vegetables would seem tasteless to them. However, over time, it turned out that people who use sweeteners do not replace healthy food with sweets, so their body weight does not increase in the end.

Should I replace all added sugar with sweeteners

International food safety organizations such as the US Food and Drug Administration or the FDA consider low-calorie and no-calorie sweeteners to be safe food supplements. However, this does not mean that it makes sense to use them for most people.

Today, most nutritionists around the world believe that sweeteners are a healthy alternative:

  • for people with diabetes who need to monitor their blood sugar levels;
  • for overweight people who need to control their calorie intake.

Are sweeteners good for you – NHS

Healthy people of normal weight can also use sweeteners, especially if they are trying not to overeat. But if these people already eat a balanced diet, there is not much point in using sweeteners. Eating healthy in and of itself helps control weight.

Also, not all sweeteners taste so much like sugar. According to the participants in the experiment, which was arranged by nutritionists from Ohio State University, sucralose, xylitol and aspartame turned out to be the most convincing sugar substitutes. Other substitutes, including stevia and saccharin, were bitter and metallic.

How much does a healthy meal cost for a family of four

Comparison of different sweeteners

Title Origin Calories in relation to sugar Taste versus sugar Application restrictions
Aspartame Artificial 100% 200 times sweeter than sugar, no off taste Do not add to hot food
Xylitol Natural 60% 5% less sweet, no off-taste No
Mannitol Natural 40% 2 times sweeter than sugar, gives a chill sensation in the mouth No
Sorbitol Natural 65% 60% sweeter than sugar, gives a chilled sensation in the mouth No
Erythritol Natural 6% 30% less sweet, no off-taste No
Stevioside Natural 0 kcal 200-400 times sweeter than sugar, bitter taste No
Neohesperidin Natural 0 kcal 340 times sweeter than sugar, bitter taste No
Saccharin Artificial 0 kcal 200-700 times sweeter than sugar, bitter and metallic taste No
Sucralose Artificial 0 kcal 600 times sweeter than sugar, no off taste Do not add to baked goods




Calories in relation to sugar


9000 2 Taste compared to sugar

200 times sweeter than sugar, no off-taste

Restrictions in use

Cannot be added to hot food




Calorie in relation to sugar


Flavor compared to sugar

5% less sweet, no off-taste

Restrictions in use





Calories in relation to sugar

40% 9No 002 Origin


Calories in relation to sugar

65% No0003



Caloric content in relation to sugar


Flavor compared to sugar

30% less sweet, no off-taste

Restrictions on use





Caloric content in relation to sugar

0 kcal

Taste compared to sugar

200-400 times sweeter than sugar, bitter taste

Restrictions on use





Calorie in relation to sugar

0 kcal

Taste compared to sugar

340 times sweeter than sugar, bitter taste

Restrictions in use





Caloric content in relation to sugar

0 kcal

Taste compared to sugar

200-700 times sweeter than sugar, bitter and metallic taste

Restrictions in use





Calorie vs. sugar

0 kcal

Taste compared to sugar

600 times sweeter than sugar, no foreign taste

Restrictions in use

Cannot be added to baked goods

Harm and benefit of sweetener: expert opinion

At the end of October, the largest study on the effect of sugar substitutes on the body was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Experts said that sugary drinks, such as diet sodas, can negatively affect metabolism and the state of blood vessels.

The material was checked and commented by Zinaida Medvedeva, Executive Director of ANO Healthy Nutrition, and Oleg Medvedev, MD, Professor, Head of the Department of Fundamental Medicine, Faculty of Fundamental Medicine, Moscow State University

Why use sugar substitutes?

Advertising on RBC www.adv.rbc.ru

Most often, people refuse sugar for two reasons: because of the shape or health. According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, 5.1 million adults and 50,000 children live with diabetes in Russia.

Fortunately, there are alternative sweeteners that can be roughly divided into two types. The first is sweeteners, more often these are natural products that are closest to the original in their taste. They have more calories, but they are suitable for diabetics. The second group is intense sweeteners. Their energy value is often close to zero. They are many times sweeter than sucrose and are of artificial origin.

Both are often used in the production of conventional products. For example, some sweeteners have water-retaining properties and require a certain amount of heat to dissolve, which is ideal for the production of hard candies. In turn, artificial sweeteners are used in the production of ice cream, as they prevent the crystallization of the structure at low temperatures.

Natural sweeteners are generally compared on the basis of their glycemic index (GI), or their ability to induce an insulin response in the body.

Fructose is absorbed in a different way and does not cause an insulin response, and all other natural sugar alternatives affect the production of insulin in the body. Sugar has a GI of 70, coconut sugar 35, honey, depending on the type, around 60, and Jerusalem artichoke syrup 16. consist of chemical compounds that are inedible by themselves. The exception is sucralose. The safe dose of this supplement (E955) per day equals 15 mg per 1 kg of body weight. If the specified amount is exceeded, the likelihood of various disorders in the work of the body increases. The substance is produced from sugar, while it tastes 600 times sweeter than it is.

Popular artificial sweeteners are also considered:

Acesulfame (additive E950) 180-200 times sweeter than sugar. Can be used in cooking. The substance is not metabolized in the body and is excreted in the same form by the kidneys.

Aspartame (additive E951) is 180 times sweeter than sugar. Some nutritionists express concern that the sweetener, when ingested, breaks down into amino acids and methanol, which in large quantities can be toxic [1]. Another disadvantage is that aspartame is destroyed when heated.

Neotame (additive E961) 7000-13000 times sweeter than sugar. It is considered a more modern version of aspartame. There are studies claiming that the supplement disrupts the gut microbiome [2].

Saccharin (additive E954) 300-500 times sweeter than sugar. One of the oldest sweeteners. Poorly soluble in water. According to a study published in 2014, these types of sweeteners can cause glucose intolerance [3].

© Wachara Kireewong / EyeEm / Getty

Natural Sugar Substitutes

Natural Substitutes are made from natural raw materials or substances of natural origin.

Fructose is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar. Serves as an integral component of its molecule – sucrose, which consists of glucose and fructose. Present in all sweet fruits, honey, some vegetables, while it is less caloric than sugar, and not so harmful to the teeth. Has tonic properties. The daily intake of fructose is 35 g, in large quantities it can negatively affect the functioning of the liver, intestines and the state of the microbiome.

Xylitol (additive E967) is the closest to sugar in taste, while it has more calories, so it will be difficult to lose weight with it. But this sweetener counteracts microbes that destroy tooth enamel. Therefore, it is added to pastes and chewing gum.

Sorbitol (additive E420) is half as sweet as sugar. It is used for the preparation of meat products, semi-finished products, chewing gums. Excess consumption, more than 20 g per day, can lead to abdominal pain and cause diarrhea [4].

Erythritol (additive E968) ten times sweeter than sugar. Found in mushrooms, fruits and vegetables, and fermented foods such as soy sauce and wine. Men are recommended to consume no more than 0.66 g per 1 kg of body weight, and women – no more than 0.8 g per 1 kg. If this dose is exceeded, the substance may cause a laxative effect.

Stevia (additive E960) 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is believed that this is the most harmless of natural sweeteners. Stevia has a specific taste, it is contraindicated for people with low blood pressure.

Inulin is a prebiotic, that is, a food component that stimulates the growth and vital activity of the intestinal microflora. The supplement strengthens the immune system, lowers cholesterol levels, but overdose can cause diarrhea. It is better to refrain from consuming this sugar substitute while taking antibiotics, as it reduces the effectiveness of drugs [5].

Whole natural products such as honey, molasses or agave can also be included in this list. To taste, they can replace sugar, but the set of calories may remain the same.

© the_burtons / Getty

Why should you be careful about sugar substitutes and sweeteners?

The latest study from the American College of Cardiology proves that artificially sweetened drinks can trigger cardiovascular disease. Observation lasted from 2009to 2019, a total of 104,760 people took part in it. They were divided into three groups based on what they drank most: regular sugary drinks, sodas with non-natural sweeteners, or water and tea without sugar. Three years later, in the first two groups, 1379 people with signs of cardiovascular disease were found, in contrast to the third group, where such a sharp jump in the number of candidates for cardiologist patients was not detected [6].

There is another important aspect that all sweet lovers need to be careful about: foods containing sugar cause the release of chemicals and hormones in the brain, which are part of the so-called food reward mechanism. This process affects the same parts of the brain that are responsible for addictive behavior, including drug addiction. Thus, even with a sugar substitute, a person can become addicted to sweets [7].

Taste preferences can be trained. So a long-term restriction in desserts can reduce sugar cravings [8].

Expert comments

Zinaida Medvedeva, Executive Director of ANO “Healthy Nutrition”

Oleg Medvedev, MD, Professor, Head of the Department of Fundamental Medicine, Faculty of Fundamental Medicine, Moscow State University

Today it cannot be said that there is one hundred percent sugar replacement. Rather, we have a range of sweetener solutions that are suitable for certain types of culinary products. In different products, the properties of sugar have a different priority.

At the same time, based on the evaluation of the development stage, the analytical agency CB Insights reports that the most promising technological trends are vegetable sweeteners, flavor modifier molecules, as well as technologies for changing the spatial structure of sugar crystals.

In addition to traditional alternatives, various syrups with different glycemic index, Jerusalem artichoke and agave syrup, as well as coconut sugar and date derivatives are used. The main thing is that the GI of the alternative is lower than that of sugar, and the product does not contain a lot of fructose.

Fundamental studies of taste receptors, including sweet perception receptors, made it possible to identify fundamentally new types of chemical compounds that can cause a feeling of sweetness. These include naturally occurring protein molecules that are usually obtained from plants but can be synthesized. They taste much sweeter than sugar, but the sensation of sweetness may come with a delay, in addition, a licorice aftertaste is possible. Protein molecules cannot replace sugar as a substance that gives food volume and texture.

Other compounds are being developed that can act on the tongue’s taste buds and produce a sweet taste. In fact, it can be a protein that will be absorbed by the body like other proteins and amino acids, and will not affect either blood sugar levels or gut health. They called it “sweet protein”. Such developments already exist in the world, but they have not yet been presented in Russia.