Know Your Sugar Substitutes: A Comparison of Sugar Alternatives
Years ago, the popular sugar substitutes were artificial sweeteners like saccharine (Sweet'n Low), aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal), and sucralose (Splenda). Today, we have so many other options. In addition to these artificial sweeteners, we now have more natural and organic options ... and it may be confusing when deciding which to use. While some sugar alternatives have a sweetness level similar to sugar, others have a sweetness level that far exceeds it. There also can be a difference in taste ranging from sweet to bitter to a "cooling" sensation. And some of these sugar substitutes can cause stomach distress if digested in larger quantities. Whether your desire to use sugar substitutes is due to health-related issues or whether you're simply looking for a lifestyle change that eliminates refined sugar, we'd like to help guide you to an option that may work best for you.
Some of the more popular low carb sugar substitutes today are:
- Splenda is the commercial name and registered trademark of a sucralose-based artificial sweetener. The granular/powdered version of Splenda measures cup for cup like sugar so you can easily replace sugar in your recipes with Splenda. Most people say Splenda tastes like sugar, but some notice a chemical taste. Splenda is also available in a liquid form.
- Stevia is a natural sugar subtitute extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. Stevia is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Some people experience an aftertaste or bitter undertone when using pure Stevia. Due to its extreme sweetness and slight aftertaste, Stevia is usually blended with another sweetener. Stevia is available in both powdered and liquid form.
- Erythritol is a polyol (sugar alcohol) usually made from maize (corn) or sugar base fruits and fermented foods. Erythritol is 60-70% as sweet as sugar but you can generally use Erythritol cup for cup like sugar without noticing a decrease in sweetness. Erythritol has a mild "cooling" sensation in the mouth and no aftertaste. Although it is a sugar alcohol (which are known to have a laxative effect when consumed in large quantities), Erythritol does not normally have that effect.
- Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in most plants, including fruits and vegetables. Xylitol tastes like sugar and measures cup for cup like sugar. In excessive quantities, Xylitol may cause gastrointestinal distress in sensitive individuals. Please note that while Xylitol is safe for human consumption, it can be poisonous to dogs. For more information, read our blog titled "Products Containing Xylitol Can Be Poisonous To Dogs"
- Maltitol is a polyol (sugar alcohol) made from corn syrup. Maltitol is not as sweet as sugar and is usually used as a cup for cup replacement for sugar. Maltitol has a pronounced laxative effect but can generally be consumed by most people in small quantities.
- Tagatose is an all natural sweetener derived from dairy and has a taste and texture similiar to sugar. It can be used cup for cup like sugar in baking and it also browns like sugar. Tagatose is a prebiotic which can assist in the development of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Isomalt is a reduced calorie sugar alcohol made from beet sugar. Isomalt measures cup for cup like sugar and is generally used for making hard candy and confections because it does not crystallize. Like most sugar alcohols, Isomalt can cause gastrointestinal issues if consumed in large quantities.
- Monk Fruit (also known as Luo Han Guo) is harvested from the fruit of the same name. Monk Fruit is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and has little to no aftertaste. Most Monk Fruit products contain Monk Fruit extract mixed with another sweetener (such as Erythritol or Stevia) and can be used cup for cup like sugar. However, if using pure Monk Fruit Extract, you would only use 2/3 of a teaspoon per cup of sugar.
- Allulose is a monosaccharide, or simple sugar, that is absorbed by the body, but not metabolized so it is nearly calorie-free. Allulose is not recognized by the body as a carbohydrate, is diabetic-friendly, and can be used cup for cup like sugar in your low carb, low calorie baking.
This Sugar Alternatives Conversion Chart includes some low carb options that Netrition carries.
Netrition sells a large variety of sugar alternatives including low carb sweeteners and baking blends, sugar free syrups, organic honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, and so much more. See a complete list of our Sweeteners.
Updated: August, 2018
Disclaimer: The views, opinions, and information provided in this blog are solely those of the original author and other contributors. Netrition, Inc. is not responsible for the accuracy of any information provided.