Alternative sweeteners are sugar substitutes that provide a sweet taste similar to that of sugar but contain significantly less food energy. They can be either natural or synthetic. The synthetic ones are referred to as artificial sweeteners, and they include sucralose, aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, stevia, and lead acetate among others.
It is the most commonly used artificial sweetener and is sold under the brand name Splenda. It is structurally similar to natural sugar, but with three chlorine atoms in place of the three hydroxyl groups. It is prepared by the chlorination of sucrose and is similarly sweet. Unlike other artificial sweeteners, sucralose does not decompose on heating. Therefore, it can be utilized as a sweetener for baked and fried foods. Additionally, due to its sweetness, it is used in beverages, sugar-free chewing gums, and frozen desserts among other food items. Although sucralose is made from natural sugar, the body does not identify it as sugar or an energy-giving food. Therefore, it is not metabolized, and only about 25 percent is absorbed. Consequently, sucralose is free of calories. Part of the sucralose consumed is rapidly eliminated in the form of urine, while the rest is passed out as feces.
According to a study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, sucralose has severe effects on the gastrointestinal system. In the investigation, laboratory rats that ingested significant measures of sucralose encountered a significant decrease in the quantity of microbes present in their gastrointestinal tract that enhance or aid food digestion. However, no evidence exists to show that human beings who ingest a high amount of the same experience similar adverse effects. Research published in the Journal of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses reported that consumption of various artificial sweeteners, including sucralose, can result in mild side effects, such as migraine headaches. Studies on the impact of sucralose on the populace prone to migraines or nuisance headaches have been inconclusive. There are no known significant health risks related with sucralose use, hence, people consume an assortment of food products containing Splenda, as a concern of decreasing the levels of calories and carbohydrates intake from sugar, without worries of surpassing the daily intake.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
It is also referred to as Glucose syrup, isoglucose or glucose-fructose syrup. HFCS is an artificial syrup produced from corn starch and is processed by glucose isomerase to convert its glucose constituents into fructose.
Although the commercials term HFCS as a healthy ingredient for use in food and beverages, as it is made from corn, in the SNL parody commercial, the American Doctors Association suggests that it exposes the body to cancer and obesity, among other diseases. Nonetheless, the health risks posed by HFCS are still debatable. Consequently, studies show that the consumption of added sugars, including HFCS, presents considerable health risks, including reduced appetite and obesity.
HFCS is commonly used in foods as a substitute for sugar because it is cheap and more stable than sucrose. The stability of HFCS is linked to its slightly different chemical composition as compared to that of sucrose. Sucrose, constitute glucose and fructose,linked together by covalent bonds. The constituents of HFCS are also glucose and fructose. However, the two sugars in HFCS are not connectedin the same way as in sucrose. Furthermore, unlike sucrose, fructose is made up ofunequal numbers of glucose and fructose. The difference in structure and chemical composition of HFCS and sucrose has led to some researchers believing that HFCS is not metabolized the same way as other sugars, making it a matter of concern.HFCS and sucrose are complex carbohydrates made of two simple sugars. Hence, they are referred to as disaccharides.