By: Ms. Reema Bhatia (Nutritionist)
In contemporary society, calorie-consciousness has replaced physical work and exercise in the attempt to maintain slim figures. Sweetening agents do not supply calories and are therefore popular with food manufacturers of low-calorie foods and drinks.
sweeter than sugar but has a bitter taste in concentrated form. Saccharin is commonly used in toothpaste. About 90% is excreted through the urine. The acceptable intake is 2.5 mg/kg/day.
Cyclamate – It is 30 times sweeter than sucrose and is excreted through the urine and faeces. Cyclamate has been an important adjunct to foods for those suffering from heart disease and wanting to restrict their calories.
Acesulfame – This is an acetoacetic acid derivative that is chemically similar to saccharin. It is 130 times sweeter than a 4% solution of sugar. Like saccharin, it is not metabolized in the body and is excreted unchanged.
Aspartame – This is a non-calorie sweetener that is quite safe, as it is derived from the essential amino acid phenylalnine and a non-essential amino acid aspartic acid found in unripe sugar cane and sugar beet. It is 200 times as sweet as a 4% solution of sucrose. Cooking reduces its sweetness; hence it can be used only as a tabletop sweetener and unlike saccharin, cannot be used in cooking. Aspartame is commonly used in soft drinks and also in Chewing gum because it does not promote dental caries. In the body, aspartame is broken down into aspartic acid and phenylalnine. Aspartame is not advised in patients with the rare disease phenylketonurid.
Monellin –It is a protein extracted from the fruit of the tropical plant “Dioscoreophyllum cumminsii” by enzymatic digestion. This sweetener is 800-3200 times as sweet as sucrose.
Miraculin –The remarkable property of “Synsepalum dulcificum” (a miracle berries from West Africa) is that, after being eaten, the sour fruits impart a sweet taste that persists for one to two hours.
Glycyrrhizin – This is present in the roots of the liquorice plant. When extracted, it is 50 times sweeter than sucrose.
Stevioside – It is obtained from the Paraguayan shrub ‘Yerba dulce’. It is 280 times sweeter than sucrose. It has a pleasant taste in a small quantity but in larger quantities the aftertaste is bitter.
Thaumatin (Talin) – This protein sweetener from the fruit of the West African plant ‘Katemfe’ is the sweetest natural substance, being 3000 times sweeter than a 4% solution of sucrose. It supplies negligible calories, but is metabolized in the body as protein.