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List of sweeteners


What is a synthetic sweetener?

Sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame-potassium, neotame, alitame, cyclamate and saccharin are synthetic sweeteners . “Sweetening” means softening, adding sugar or another food with sweetening power.

They are said to be “synthetic”, because they come from the laboratory transformation of different chemical compounds. Hence their other name “artificial sweeteners”. They are also known as “intense sweeteners” because of their very high sweetness.

Two categories

Synthetic sweeteners are divided into two categories: first generation sweeteners (saccharin, cyclamate, aspartame) and second generation sweeteners (sucralose, acesulfame-potassium, neotame, alitame).

Where do they come from?

Synthetic sweeteners are chemical compounds from different origins or from various substances. Two examples: aspartame and sucralose.

L aspartame is composed of two amino acids : aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The substance, once transformed by the body, produces a small amount of methanol, hence the controversy surrounding its use.

Only sucralose originally comes from sugar. The process, patented of course, involves introducing three chlorine atoms in place of three groups of hydrogen and oxygen atoms present on the sucrose (sugar) molecule. The molecule, thus modified, is no longer a sugar, but a substance created from scratch by the hand of man.

How do they work?

Synthetic sweeteners are all based on the same principle: they are “empty” molecules , “non-food” . The body does not recognize them as nutrients and therefore does not get energy from them.

Apart from aspartame, the artificial sweeteners marketed in the country (sucralose, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-potassium) contain no calories . aspartame contains 4 calories per gram .



Sweetening power **

ADI ***

mg / kg

Acesulfame-potassium [19459007 ]


Approved as a food additive for a host of processed foods / not sold as a table-top sweetener *




[19459007 ]

(NutraSweet, Egal / Equal, Canderel)

Approved as a food additive for a host of processed foods

180X [ 19459007]



( Sucaryl, Sweet’n Low, Sugar Twin)

Approved as a table-top sweetener only *

[1 9459006] 30 to 50X



[ 19459007]


Approved as a table-top sweetener only *

300 to 500X [19459007 ]



(Splenda )

Approved as a food additive for a host of processed foods



* The mention “Approved as table-top sweetener only” means that this sweetener cannot be used as a food additive in Canada. No processed product (yogurt, jam, chocolate, etc.) should contain cyclamate or saccharin. The sale of these sweeteners remains permitted (for saccharin, only in pharmacies).

** The sweetening power is established as a function of that of sucrose (ordinary sugar).

*** ADI: “acceptable daily dose”. Public health authorities, including Health Canada, have set “acceptable daily doses”, thresholds below which these food additives are known to be safe. (See the text Are they safe?). The ADIs listed in this table are from the research summary by the Canadian Diabetes Association (see reference below) and have been validated with Health Canada. In general, they correspond to the standards established by other public health authorities and may even prove to be “safer”. For example, Health Canada has set the ADI for sucralose at 9 mg / kg, while a joint committee 1 of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations food and agriculture (FAO) “allows” up to 15 mg / kg.

How to calculate the adequate dose?

Just multiply its weight (in kilos) by the acceptable daily intake (ADI) corresponding to the sweetener present in the product. We then divide this result by the quantity (mg) of sweetener contained in the portion consumed (generally indicated on the packaging). Two examples:

60 kg (130 lb) person: 18 cans of diet sodas per day!

Calculation: Weight (60 kg) x ADI aspartame (40 mg) = 2400. The ADI for aspartame for this person is therefore 2400 mg. The ADI (2400 mg) is divided by the amount contained in the portion consumed (131 mg of aspartame in a 355 ml can) = 18.

Person from 90 kilos (198 lbs): 33 “reduced calories” yogurts per day!

Calculation: Weight (90 kg) x ADI sucralose (9 mg) = 810. The ADI for sucralose for this person is therefore 810 mg. The ADI (810 mg) is divided by the quantity contained in the portion consumed (24 mg of sucralose in a small 150 g jar) = 33

Of course, we do not recommend to no one to consume as many diet sodas or calorie-reduced yogurts! These examples simply serve to illustrate, in concrete terms, what ADIs are.

In short, by established standards, one must consume astronomical quantities of such products to expose one’s health to risks. In addition, it is important to note that the concentrations of sweeteners presented here come from a standard product: they are not necessarily representative of all the products on the market.


Pregnant women 19459004] should avoid taking saccharin and cyclamate . In fact, these products should only be consumed on the advice of a doctor.

As for aspartame , Health Canada 2 considered it safe during pregnancy. “The consumption of aspartame in pregnant women is safe and poses no health risk. However, as the consumption of products containing aspartame and other intense sweeteners could replace that of nutritious food contributing to the energy supply, it is advisable to pregnant women against excessive consumption of such products “, He specifies.

Health Canada has, however, issued a warning for people with phenylketonuria . The latter should not consume aspartame because it contains phenylalanine, a substance that these people cannot metabolize 2 .

What about other sweeteners?

Sugar alcohols

We must distinguish synthetic sweeteners from sugar alcohols, also called polyalcohol or polyols: maltitol , sorbitol , mannitol , xylitol , isomalt , etc.

Although sugars alcohols are also synthesized in the laboratory, they are, to some extent, more “natural”. Indeed, they come from different sugars of vegetable origin.

On the shelves, they are most often found in food products for diabetics, but also in treats, candies, gum, ice cream and some chocolates. They are not sold as table-top sweeteners.

Sugar alcohols have little impact on blood sugar, but consumed in large quantities, they can cause gastrointestinal disturbances (flatulence, diarrhea, etc.).


We have heard a lot about stevia in recent years, a “new” sweetener from a small shrub native to South America ([ 19459039] stevia rebaudiana ).

Stevia is a plant used for a very long time in South America to sweeten drinks and food. The sale of stevia as a supplement is permitted in Canada, but it may not be marketed there as a table-top sweetener or as a food additive. At the time of this document’s update (September 2008), its use as a food additive was still prohibited in the United States, Canada and the member states of the European Union.

This situation could change in the United States in 2009, because the two giants of the soft drink market have developed purified and patented extracts of stevia which they intend to use in their products. In May 2008, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo submitted toxicological data to the US Food and Drug Administration in order to authorize Truvia® and PureVia® respectively as food additives. See the “History” section of the stevia file for more information on this subject.

Currently in Canada, stevia can be obtained in the form of dried leaf powder or a standardized extract. The sweetness of stevia is 100 to 300 times that of sugar. A single teaspoon of a standardized extract (90% stevioside) is equivalent to about three cups of sugar!

People with type 2 diabetes are generally recommended to check their blood glucose levels more often after the introduction of stevia into their diet.

Agave syrup

This natural sweetener is also talked about, because it has a higher sweetening power than that of sugar white, i.e. 1.4. In addition, as it contains a high proportion of fructose (from 60% to 90%), its glycemic index is low (around 20), which is an advantage for diabetics.

This syrup is extracted from the sap present in the heart of the agave, a plant which is also used to make tequila ( Agava tequilana ). Its taste is more neutral than that of honey. Its color varies from golden to dark brown, depending on the degree of purification. It is found in health food stores.

Be careful however, it is almost as caloric as sugar , or around 17 calories per teaspoon against 20 for sugar. On the other hand, as its sweetening power is higher, we use less: it is generally suggested to replace 1 cup of sugar by 2/3 cup of agave syrup.

Another disadvantage of this syrup: because of its high fructose content, it increases the level of triglycerides in the blood when it is consumed in large quantities. This increase is a factor in cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.



Note: les hypertext links leading to other sites are not updated continuously. It’s possible a link become not found. Please use the search tools to find the desired information.


All about Agave. Site of an agave syrup distributor [Accessed September 3, 2008]
Artificial sweeteners: A safe alternative to sugar . Mayo Clinic. [Accessed October 2, 2006.]
Artificial sweeteners: Any effect on blood sugar? Mayo Clinic. [Accessed October 2, 2006.]
Aspartame (NutraSweet) Toxicity Info Center. Holisticmed. [Accessed October 2, 2006.].
Aspartame Information. Ajinomoto Food Ingredients LLC. [Accessed October 2, 2006.]
Canadian Diabetes Association / L’information en francais. [Accessed October 2, 2006.]
Blue agave nectar. Website of an agave syrup manufacturer. [Accessed September 3, 2008].
Sweeteners , Health Canada, 2006. [Accessed October 2, 2006.]
Center for Science in the Public Interest. Chemical cuisine – A guide to food additives, Nutrition Action Healthletter , May 2008. Full text:
Gougeon, Spidel & al. Canadian Diabetes Association National Nutrition Committee Technical Review: Non-nutritive Intense Sweeteners in Diabetes Management Canadian Journal of Diabetes, December 2004.
Guide of Sweeteners . The Glucomaître group. [Accessed October 2, 2006.] [Accessed October 2, 2006.].
Migraine headache , Causes, C
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Pätzold R, Brückner H. Mass spectrometric detection and formation of D-amino acids in processed plant saps, syrups, and fruit juice concentrates . J Agric Food Chem . 2005 Dec 14; 53 (25): 9722-9. Full text (pdf document consulted on September 3, 2008):
Splenda. Commercial site [Accessed October 2, 2006.]
Stevia Canada. Commercial site [Accessed October 2, 2006.]
Sugar substitute content . Canadian Diabetes Association. [Accessed October 2, 2006.]
Sweet Cactus Farm. Site of an agave syrup manufacturer [Accessed September 3, 2008]
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1. Joint FAO / WHO Expert on Food Additives (JECFA). Committee The International Program on Chemical Safety (IPCS). [Accessed September 19, 2006.]
2 Health Canada, Sweeteners , 2006. [Accessed October 2, 2006.] www.hc-
3. Basciano H, Federico L, Adeli K. Fructose, insulin resistance, and metabolic dyslipidemia . Nutr Metab (Lond) . 2005 Feb 21; 2 (1): 5. Full text:
4. Miller A, Adeli K. Dietary fructose and the metabolic syndrome . Curr Opin Gastroenterol . 2008 Mar; 24 (2): 204-9. Review 203.


Originally posted 2020-03-18 09:51:57.

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