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Best Artificial Sweeteners

Which is the best sugar substitute to use since there are so many available?

There are many artificial sweeteners on the market these days. When low-calorie sweeteners are added to foods and beverages, they provide a taste that is similar to that of real sugar. So, which is the best one to use since there are so many?

An artificial sweetener, also known as a sugar substitute, is an additive that sweetens foods and drinks. Instead of adding sugar, consumers can select a substitute. One of the main attractions to artificial sweeteners is that they have very few calories, or no calories at all.

Perhaps people have noticed that those small packets on restaurant tables are for customers to sweeten their coffee or tea. What they might not have noticed is that the packets are in different colors that mean something.  

Three popular artificial sweeteners in the United States are Equal, Sweet'n Low, and Splenda. Equal comes in a blue packet to indicate that it is aspartame. Sweet'n Low is in a pink packet because it is saccharin. Splenda is in a yellow packet because it is sucralose. Less popular sugar substitutes might also be available on restaurant tables. If so, Stevia comes in green packets, and monk fruit extract comes in orange packets.

Equal usually comes in blue packets (Photos via Walmart)

Equal was one of the first sugar substitutes that came on the market.  It was launched in France in 1979 as the leading aspartame-based sweetener. It was first sold in the United States in 1982, and in the United Kingdom in 1983. 

Equal comes in the blue packet, and was first named "Equa." Then a Chicago advertising agency recommended adding an "l" to the end of the name to suggest that the taste is "equal" to sugar.

Aspartame is 200 times as sweet as sugar, and is best for cold and uncooked foods. When it is heated, it breaks down, and becomes less sweet.

Sweet 'N Low (Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr)

Sweet'n Low is recognized in the pink packet made primarily from granulated saccharin. It was launched in 1999. Sweet'n Low is about 300 times sweeter than sugar, and is most commonly found in fruit juices, soft drinks, chewing gum, and toothpaste. Saccharin is considered to be a safer sugar substitute than aspartame or sucralose.

Splenda sugar substitute (Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr)

Splenda was introduced in the United States in 1999, and is the most common product made from sucralose. Since then, Splenda has been one of the most popular artificial sweeteners on the market for foods and beverages. Splenda, found in the yellow box or packet, contains sucralose that comes from real sugar. Besides, it does not have a bitter aftertaste like most of the other sugar substitutes.

Splenda is good for baking, because it is still potent with high heat. The substitute is 600 times sweeter than sugar per gram, but without the calories. Therefore, it is ideal for the entire family. Best of all, it is safe for those with diabetes, pregnant women, and children.  

Even though Splenda has not been available as long as Equal and Sweet'n Low, it is highly recommended. The sales are 30 percent of the global market. Splenda is projected to bring in about $2.8 billion in sales by 2021.

Other sugar substitutes.

Even though the three popular sugar substitutes are Equal, Sweet'n Low, and Splenda, there are other artificial sweeteners to choose from. They include Stevia, Truvia, Domino Light, and a grocery aisle full of others. 

What people look for in an artificial sweetener is the one that appeals to their initial taste, aftertaste, and the calorie count. Once they find an artificial sweetener they like, they tend to stick with that sugar substitute. 

Stevia (Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr)

Stevia is a sugar substitute, which is 30 to 150 times the sweetness of sugar. Like many of the other artificial sweeteners, Stevia has zero calories. The taste of Stevia comes on slowly, but it lasts longer than the taste of sugar. The aftertaste may be bitter, and taste like licorice.

Initially, Stevia was banned in the United States. In 1995, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed it to be sold as a food supplement, but not as a sweetener.  In December 2008, the FDA allowed Stevia to be used as a sweetener. Today, it is used around the world in soft drinks, wines, yogurts, puddings, candies, chewing gums, and many other products. Stevia, in its powder form, can be used for cooking and baking in smaller amounts than sugar, because of its high sweet content.

Truvia (Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr)

Truvia has been around since 2008. It is not the most popular, but with its natural sweetener, it has become the second best-selling sugar substitute in units in the United States behind Splenda, and in front of Equal and Sweet'n Low.

Truvia is gluten-free, has zero calories, and is safe for the entire family, including children and diabetics. Some customers love that Truvia comes in an easy-to-use spoonable jar, so you don’t have to open and pour packets every time they want to use it.

Domino Light (Photo by Mike Mozart via Flickr)

Determine what the artificial sweetener will be used for. For instance, what you use for baking might not be the recommended sugar substitute for sweetening foods and beverages. Some sugar substitutes lose their potency when heated.

Taste is one of the most important characteristics customers want in a sugar substitute. They don't want a funny aftertaste in their mouth, or changes in the flavor of their foods and drinks. The sugar substitute people decide to use is their personal choice based on the taste they like. Once they find the artificial sweetener they like, they usually stick with that one.

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Best Artificial Sweeteners
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