What They Do: Add sweetness (other than a mono- or disaccharide sugar) with or without the extra calories
This ingredient type includes a very large range of products, from white sugar, to highly processed sugar extracts such as glucose, to all artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners are all laboratory manufactured. Many have a history of being unsafe for humans.
Processed sugar in general is bad for humans, as most people eat way too much of it. The process of creating sugar is complex, and most of it is made in laboratory conditions, with varying levels of toxic chemical.
There are very few truly real sugars. An example of a real sugar would be raw, unfiltered honey.
The home cook who's goal is to eat real will have a very limited choice. Anyone even remotely interested in health would be wise to work towards full removal of all added sugar from their diet.
Stevia is one option as a replacement for sweeteners. It is actually not a sugar. It has a slightly different taste because it is not a sugar. It is about 100 to 300 times as sweet as sugar, thus way less calories. It's the reduction in the actual volume needed that causes the reduced calories. When used in it's natural form, and not packaged with fillers, this could be considered a real food. It can be purchased as a fresh leaf, just like fresh herbs. It can also be found as simple dried leaf. This can then be boiled in water to extract the sweetness and then the sweet water can be used in cooking. It can also be used as it is, though it can take a while to get used to seeing green flecks in sweets.
Click underlined ingredients to learn more, and find out more about what each item does in specific types of foods.
Found used in these foods to make them sweeter:
- Baked goods
- Many processed foods
- Table-top sugar
Examples of sweeteners:
- Acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K)
- Brown sugar
- Brown sugar syrup
- Corn syrup
- High fructose corn syrup
- Refiner's syrup
How it may be described on a label:
- Bulk sweetener
- Intense sweetener