Artificial Sweeteners

  1. Aspartame:
    • Composition: Aspartame is made from two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine, along with a methyl ester group.
    • Digestion: Aspartame is metabolized by the body into its constituent parts: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. These components are further broken down and eliminated.
    • Toxicity: Aspartame is considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies such as the FDA and EFSA when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. However, it can be harmful to individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic disorder that prevents the breakdown of phenylalanine.
    • Common Foods: Aspartame is found in a wide range of products, including diet sodas, sugar-free gum, candies, yogurt, and some tabletop sweeteners.
  2. Saccharin:
    • Composition: Saccharin is a coal tar derivative and is not metabolized by the body.
    • Digestion: Saccharin passes through the digestive system unchanged and is excreted in the urine.
    • Toxicity: Saccharin was previously linked to bladder cancer in animal studies, leading to warning labels on products in the past. However, subsequent research has not found clear evidence of carcinogenicity in humans, and many regulatory agencies have deemed it safe for consumption.
    • Common Foods: Saccharin is found in tabletop sweeteners, diet sodas, canned fruit, and other processed foods.
  3. Sucralose:
    • Composition: Sucralose is made by chlorinating sucrose (table sugar) molecules, resulting in a compound that is much sweeter than sugar.
    • Digestion: Sucralose is not metabolized by the body and passes through the digestive system largely unchanged. Some small amount may be absorbed, but it is not used for energy.
    • Toxicity: Sucralose is considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. It has been extensively studied for safety and has not been found to have carcinogenic or other harmful effects.
    • Common Foods: Sucralose is found in a wide range of products, including diet sodas, baked goods, dairy products, and tabletop sweeteners.
  4. Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K):
    • Composition: Acesulfame potassium is a potassium salt containing methylene chloride.
    • Digestion: Acesulfame potassium is not metabolized by the body and is excreted largely unchanged in the urine.
    • Toxicity: Acesulfame potassium is considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. Studies have not found evidence of carcinogenicity or other significant health risks.
    • Common Foods: Acesulfame potassium is found in a variety of products, including diet sodas, beverages, desserts, and tabletop sweeteners.
  5. Neotame:
    • Composition: Neotame is chemically similar to aspartame but is much sweeter and does not contain phenylalanine.
    • Digestion: Neotame is metabolized by the body into its constituent parts and is eliminated.
    • Toxicity: Neotame is considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. It has been extensively studied for safety and has not been found to have carcinogenic or other harmful effects.
    • Common Foods: Neotame is found in a variety of products, including diet sodas, beverages, desserts, and tabletop sweeteners.
  6. Advantame:
    • Composition: Advantame is derived from aspartame and vanillin.
    • Digestion: Advantame is metabolized by the body into its constituent parts and is eliminated.
    • Toxicity: Advantame is considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. It has been extensively studied for safety and has not been found to have carcinogenic or other harmful effects.
    • Common Foods: Advantame is found in a variety of products, including diet sodas, beverages, desserts, and tabletop sweeteners.

Natural Sweeteners

  1. Stevia (Steviol Glycosides):
    • Composition: Stevia is derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. The sweet taste comes from steviol glycosides, primarily stevioside and rebaudioside.
    • Digestion: Steviol glycosides are not metabolized by the body, so they pass through the digestive system without being absorbed. They are excreted largely unchanged in the urine and feces.
    • Toxicity: Stevia and its derivatives, including steviol glycosides, are generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. They have been extensively studied for safety and have not been found to have carcinogenic or other harmful effects.
    • Common Foods: Stevia is found in a variety of products, including sugar-free beverages, snacks, desserts, and tabletop sweeteners.
  2. Monk Fruit Extract (Luo Han Guo):
    • Composition: Monk fruit extract is derived from the Siraitia grosvenorii plant, also known as monk fruit. The sweetness comes from mogrosides, particularly mogroside V.
    • Digestion: Mogrosides are not metabolized by the body and pass through the digestive system without being absorbed. They are excreted largely unchanged.
    • Toxicity: Monk fruit extract is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. It has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and has not been found to have carcinogenic or other harmful effects.
    • Common Foods: Monk fruit extract is found in various products, including beverages, sauces, desserts, and tabletop sweeteners.
  3. Thaumatin:
    • Composition: Thaumatin is a protein derived from the Thaumatococcus daniellii plant, also known as the katemfe fruit.
    • Digestion: Thaumatin is broken down by digestive enzymes in the body like other dietary proteins. The amino acids are absorbed and utilized by the body.
    • Toxicity: Thaumatin is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. It has been used as a sweetener and flavor enhancer for decades without reports of significant toxicity.
    • Common Foods: Thaumatin is found in various products, including beverages, dairy products, confectionery, and fruit-based products.
  4. Allulose:
    • Composition: Allulose, also known as D-psicose, is a rare sugar found naturally in small quantities in certain fruits like figs and raisins. It is chemically similar to fructose but has a different structure.
    • Digestion: Allulose is absorbed by the body but is not metabolized for energy. It passes through the bloodstream and is excreted in the urine.
    • Toxicity: Allulose is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. It has been studied for safety and has not been found to have carcinogenic or other harmful effects.
    • Common Foods: Allulose is found in various products, including baked goods, ice cream, beverages, and confectionery.
  5. Tagatose:
    • Composition: Tagatose is a naturally occurring monosaccharide found in small quantities in dairy products. It is chemically similar to fructose but has a different structure.
    • Digestion: Tagatose is partially absorbed by the body and metabolized, but it is not fully metabolized for energy. Some of it passes through the digestive system unchanged.
    • Toxicity: Tagatose is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. It has been studied for safety and has not been found to have carcinogenic or other harmful effects.
    • Common Foods: Tagatose is found in various products, including baked goods, dairy products, beverages, and confectionery.

Sugar Alcohols

  1. Xylitol:
    • Composition: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It is often extracted from birch wood or corn cobs.
    • Digestion: Xylitol is partially absorbed by the body and metabolized in the liver. It has a lower impact on blood sugar levels compared to regular sugar.
    • Toxicity: Xylitol is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. However, in large doses, it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and have a laxative effect.
    • Common Foods: Xylitol is found in various products, including sugar-free gum, candies, mints, dental products, and some pharmaceuticals.
  2. Erythritol:
    • Composition: Erythritol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in certain fruits and fermented foods. It is commercially produced through fermentation of glucose or sucrose.
    • Digestion: Erythritol is absorbed by the body but not metabolized for energy. It passes through the bloodstream and is excreted unchanged in the urine.
    • Toxicity: Erythritol is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. It is well-tolerated by most people and does not usually cause digestive issues.
    • Common Foods: Erythritol is found in various products, including sugar-free beverages, baked goods, candies, chocolates, and chewing gum.
  3. Sorbitol:
    • Composition: Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It is also produced synthetically from glucose.
    • Digestion: Sorbitol is partially absorbed by the body and metabolized in the liver. It has a lower glycemic index compared to regular sugar.
    • Toxicity: Sorbitol is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. However, in large doses, it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and have a laxative effect.
    • Common Foods: Sorbitol is found in various products, including sugar-free gum, candies, beverages, frozen desserts, and pharmaceuticals.
  4. Mannitol:
    • Composition: Mannitol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables, as well as produced synthetically from fructose.
    • Digestion: Mannitol is absorbed by the body but not metabolized for energy. It passes through the bloodstream and is excreted unchanged in the urine.
    • Toxicity: Mannitol is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. However, in large doses, it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and have a laxative effect.
    • Common Foods: Mannitol is found in various products, including sugar-free gum, candies, baked goods, medications, and dietary supplements.
  5. Isomalt:
    • Composition: Isomalt is a sugar alcohol derived from beet sugar. It is produced through a process that involves enzymatic conversion of sucrose.
    • Digestion: Isomalt is partially absorbed by the body and metabolized in the liver. It has a lower glycemic index compared to regular sugar.
    • Toxicity: Isomalt is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. However, in large doses, it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and have a laxative effect.
    • Common Foods: Isomalt is found in various products, including sugar-free candies, chocolates, baked goods, and cough drops.
  6. Lactitol:
    • Composition: Lactitol is a sugar alcohol derived from lactose, the sugar found in milk. It is produced through hydrogenation of lactose.
    • Digestion: Lactitol is partially absorbed by the body and metabolized in the liver. It has a lower glycemic index compared to regular sugar.
    • Toxicity: Lactitol is generally considered safe for consumption by regulatory agencies when consumed within acceptable daily intake levels. However, in large doses, it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and have a laxative effect.
    • Common Foods: Lactitol is found in various products, including sugar-free dairy products, confectionery, baked goods, and pharmaceuticals.

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