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Natural vs Artificial Sweeteners: What are they and what's the difference?

What is the difference between natural and artificial sweeteners?

Natural sweeteners are those that are found naturally in or derived from whole foods. These include sugars (glucose and fructose) found in fruit and veg. Popular natural sweeteners include:

  • Stevia: 200-350 times sweeter than sugar. This sweetener is derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant. Stevia sweeteners are made by extracting steviol glycosides from the leaves of the stevia plant and processing them to remove some of the bitter attributes found int the extract
  • Erythritol: A sugar alcohol that is produced by fermenting corn starch. It is 70% as sweet as sugar but only 5% of the calories
  • Xylitol: The most ubiquitous and well researched natural sweetener. Has about the same sweetness as sugar but 40% less calories
  • Monk Fruit: The Monk Fruit sweetener is derived from the dried fruit itself and is 150-250 times sweeter than sugar. It has no calories, no carbohydrates, zero, zilch!
 
Artificial sweeteners on the other hand are sweeteners that are manufactured and altered to provide the sweet taste with usually zero calories. They are produced in a lab. Popular and widely used artificial sweeteners include:
 
  • Acesulfame Potassium (also known as Acesulfame K):
    It's around 200 times sweeter than sugar. It gives you a sweet taste by activating the sweet taste receptors on the tongue. 
  • Suraclose: Is 450-650 times sweeter than sugar. Sucralose production starts with table sugar, but it's not a sugar. It's conversion to an artificial sweetener occurs during a multistep chemical process in which three hydrogen-oxygen groups are replaced with chlorine atoms. Sucralose’s structure prevents enzymes in the digestive tract from breaking it down, which is an inherent part of its safety and approved use in food and drink 
  • Aspartame: 150-200 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame is made through fermentation and synthesis of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The process is quite complex so if you'd like to learn more, check it out here

Where do you find both artificial and natural sweeteners?
Both types of sweeteners are widely used in processed food and drink including:
  • Soft drinks: Artificial sweeteners are in popular diet drinks like Pepsi Max, Red Bull Zero and No Sugar Coke. Drinks that are naturally sweetened include Jocko Discipline GOPS Organic Sodas and Nexba
  • Dairy products
  • Chewing gums
  • Much more! 

 
How safe are artificial sweeteners?
The safety of artificial sweeteners has been a contentious issue for many years. There have been studies in the past that have linked artificial sweeteners to an increased risk of cancer.
 
However, these claims have been reviewed and there is no sufficient evidence to suggest they are carcinogenic when consumed in accordance with recommended daily limits.
 
For example, in Australia the recommended safe intake of Aspartame is 40mg per kilo of body weight per day. High end consumers of Aspartame are eating/drinking only 15% of the recommended intake of this sweetener.
 
Check out this article for more info on sweeteners and cancer:
 https://www.cancerwa.asn.au/resources/cancermyths/sweeteners-myth/
 
 Check out our naturally sweetened beverages including:

 

Dylan, Founder @ Hits Different Drinks

Precision Nutrition L1

Comments (1)

  • Sharon on September 04, 2021

    Thank you for researching and sharing this information. Very interesting to learn the difference. Much appreciated.

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