Sugar Free Please


There are many forms of both nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners used in food and beverage products. Often, a product may include more than one variety. Blending two or more sweeteners gives food manufacturers the flexibility to take advantage of each sweetener's individual attributes. This combination is often sweeter and better tasting than individual sweeteners. These blends provide taste, economic, and stability advantages.


Below are listed some of the most common sweeteners:



Acesulfame potassium (also known as acesulfame K) is an artificial sweetener which is a derivative of aceto-acetic acid, B - dikctones, B - oxobarbonic acids, Alkynes, Acetoacetamide N - Sufonic acids. It is one of the older artificial sweeteners, and is considered completely safe for use in food products. It has no kilojoules and no effect on blood glucose levels. It is not metabolised and is rapidly excreted in the urine. It is 150 - 200 times sweeter than sugar.



Also referred to as Sweetener 951, Aspartame contains two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid.

Due to controversy over possible adverse human health effects, Aspartame has been extensively studied for more than two decades and in more than 200 studies. There is no scientific evidence of any significant adverse effects at a daily intake of aspartame far beyond current usage. Because aspartame-containing products are a source of phenylalanine in the diet, they carry the labelling, "Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine". Persons born with a rare genetic disease called phenylketonuria (PKU) know to restrict their intake of phenylalanine from all dietary sources.

Aspartame's assets include a sugar-like taste and properties which make it suitable for a variety of products. It has the ability to intensify and extend certain flavours, especially fruit flavours, which, for example, makes chewing gum taste sweet up to four times longer than with sugar-sweetened gum. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sucrose, so the amounts needed to achieve the desired sweetness are so small that aspartame is considered virtually non-caloric. Aspartame is currently used in more than 6,000 products worldwide.



Also referred to as Sweetener 952, Cyclamate is stable in heat and cold and has good shelf life. When cyclamate is combined with other sweeteners, they enhance each other so that the combinations are sweeter than the sum of the individual sweeteners. Cyclamate is used as a tabletop sweetener, in sugar-free beverages and other low-calorie foods, particularly in combination with saccharin. It also can be used in baked goods.

Cyclamate is not recommended for pregnant women or children under 2 years old.



Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruits and berries. It is also added to foods and beverages in the form of crystalline fructose (made from corn starch) or high fructose corn syrup (a combination of fructose and glucose).

It is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar so can be used in much smaller amounts which means fewer calories consumed. With a glycemic index figure of 31 compared to sucrose (white sugar) of 89, fructose is absorbed into the blood only one third as fast as sugar, so often more acceptable in a diabetic diet.



Polydextrose is derived from dextrose (a carbohydrate) and partially derived from glucose, but has been altered so the body does not metabolize it. It adds fiber and bulk to sugar-free candy. It is not sweet, but is used as a substitute for sugar (usually with a sweetener) in reduced calorie foods as it gives body and a similar texture and mouthfeel to that of sugar.



Also referred to as Sweetener 954, Saccharin is the oldest of the approved low-calorie sweeteners and contains 0 calories per gram. It continues to be important for a wide range of food and beverage applications as it is a very stable sweetener allowing for good product shelf life.

Saccharin can be found in many beverages and in some table top sweeteners. It has also been used in medications, such as cough syrups. Saccharin is 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Saccharin is not recommended for pregnant women or children under 2 years old.



Stevia is a sweet tasting herb that has health promoting qualities and contains zero calories. The herb is nutrient rich, containing substantial amounts of calcium, phosphorous, as well as sodium, magnesium, zinc, rutin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and over 100 phytonutrients. Studies suggest that Stevia has a regulatory effect on the pancreas and could help stabilize blood sugar levels in the body, making it a wise choice for the people with diabetes and hypoglycemia.

A good quality Stevia product has a taste that has been described as sweet, delicious and refreshing. Some people experience a slight licorice aftertaste.

Stevia comes in many forms. It is available as the powdered herb, herb extract or as a concentration of the active sweetening ingredient, stevioside. Fresh Stevia leaves and dried crushed leaf are Stevia in its most natural state. These are 15 to 30 times sweeter than sugar, green in color and not water soluble. Liquid forms made from whole leaf are very dark in color, almost black and come in different purity and strengths. Generally speaking the white extract powder or clear extract liquid is more pleasant with only a slight and negligible aftertaste.



Also referred to as Sweetener 955, Sucralose is made by a patented, multi-step process that starts with sugar (sucrose). This results in a stable sweetener that tastes like sugar, but is calorie-free, does not promote tooth decay and is not metabolized by the body so it does not affect blood sugar levels.

Sucralose is marketed under the name of Splenda. It is extremely stable at high temperatures and foods made with it will store for extended periods without losing their sugar-like taste. It's unique combination of sugar-like taste and excellent stability allows sucralose to be used as a sugar replacement in virtually every type of food and beverage. It is 600 times sweeter than sugar, so very little is needed to obtain the same sweetness intensity.



Sorbitol, Mannitol, Xylitol, Erythitol, D-Tagatose, Isomalt, Lactitol, Maltitol, Trahalose, Polyglycitol, Polyglucitol

Polyols occur naturally in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but are mostly made from other carbohydrates such as sucrose, glucose and starch when produced commercially. They are chemically alcohol, but are derived from sugar molecules.

Polyols are slowly and incompletely absorbed from the small intestine into the blood and are converted to energy by processes that require little or no insulin. Some of the polyol that is not absorbed into the blood is broken down into fatty acids in the large intestine which can result in a laxative effect in some people, particularly if they consume them regularly or in large amounts.

Polyols do not promote tooth decay. They are resistant to metabolism by oral bacteria and do not increase the acidity of the mouth after ingestion. This means that they will not lead to cavities or erode tooth enamel. The usefulness of polyols as alternatives to sugars and as part of a comprehensive program including proper dental hygiene has been recognized by numerous authorities

Polyols have less available kilojoules than sugar, and because they are more slowly absorbed by the body result in only a minimal effect on blood glucose levels. They are generally acceptable for use in the diets of people with diabetes.

Sorbitol (Sweetener 420), Mannitol (Sweetener 421), Xylitol (Sweetener 967), Lactitol (Sweetener 966), and Isomalt (Sweetener 953) are the most common sweeteners of this type in New Zealand.



Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol obtained by chemical reduction of glucose or fructose. It also occurs naturally in many fruits, eg: pears, plums, peaches and cherries. It is about half as sweet as sucrose and has a mouth cooling effect.



Xylitol is a sweetener that occurs naturally. It's found in hardwood trees, and in fibrous fruits and vegetables like plums, strawberries and corn. We even produce small amounts every day through our body's natural metabolism.

Xylitol is metabolized only by friendly bacteria which means that it cannot be fermented by harmful mouth bacteria that cause tooth decay. It also helps keep the natural flora balance in the gut by allowing friendly bacteria to flourish. The body adapts to Xylitol over a shorter period of time than other sugar alcohols, so gastrointestinal discomfort is less likely.

The metabolism of xylitol is mostly insulin-independent, and it has a low glycemic index rating of 7.

The World Health Organisation has given Xylitol their safest rating for food additives. It is ideal for people of all ages, from babies to grandparents.



Mannitol is found in abundance in nature, particularly in exudates from trees, and in marine algae and fresh mushrooms. It is an isomer of sorbitol and is typically produced today by the hydrogenation of specialty glucose syrups.

Mannitol does not pick up moisture. For this reason, it is often used as a dusting powder for chewing gum to prevent the gum from sticking to manufacturing equipment and wrappers. Due to its high melting point, mannitol is also used in chocolate-flavored coating agents for ice cream and confections. Mannitol is widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries because of its unique functional properties.



Lactitol is manufactured by reducing the glucose part of lactose. Lactitol is fermented in the colon and consequently has beneficial effects on the colonic microflora. A reduction in the pH of the colon, along with an increase in good bacteria and a significant reduction in potential pathogens means that Lactitol functions as a probiotic.

It has only 40 percent of sucrose's sweetening power. This mild sweetness makes it an ideal bulk sweetener to partner with low-calorie sweeteners, such as acesulfame K, aspartame, saccharin and sucralose.



Isomalt is a bulk sweetener that is derived from sugar, and has the same appearance and texture of sugar. Isomalt is a mixture of two disaccharide alcohols: gluco-mannitol and gluco-sorbitol.

Isomalt is often used in combination with intense sweeteners. Isomalt gives products bulk, texture and mild sweetness, while the intense sweetener brings the level of sweetness up to what it would be if sugar were used.


The information provided in this website is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from our own research and experience.

We suggest taking responsibility for ones own diet and lifestyle, based on informed decision making. We encourage you to make your own healthy decisions based upon your own research and in partnership with qualified health care professionals.

But we think it's important that you have access to as much information on sugar and sugar free products as possible, and that's what we're aiming to provide.