Sugar vs Sweeteners
A sugar substitute, or artificial sweetener, is a food additive which attempts to duplicate the effect of sugar or corn syrup in taste, but often with less food energy.
An important class of sugar substitutes are known as high intensity sweeteners. These are compounds whose sweetness is many times that of sucrose; accordingly, much less sweetener is required and energy contribution often negligible. The sensation of sweetness caused by these compounds (the "sweetness profile") is sometimes notably different from sucrose, so they are used in complex mixtures that achieve the most natural sweet sensation.
If the sucrose (or other sugar) replaced has contributed to the texture of the product, then a bulking agent is often also needed. This may be seen in soft drinks such as soda labelled as "diet" or "light" which contain artificial sweeteners and often have notably different mouthfeel; or in table sugar replacements which mix maltodextrins with an intense sweetener to achieve satisfactory texture sensation.
The food and beverage industry is increasingly replacing sugar or corn syrup with artificial sweeteners in a range of products traditionally containing sugar.
However, sugar also has other functions in food:
· It provides texture in baked goods.
· It is a humectant in cakes (stops them from drying out).
· It lowers the freezing point in ice cream.
· It acts as a preservative in jams
· It strengthens "mouthfeel" in soft drinks.
· It adds bulk to baked goods.
Intense sweeteners, however, cannot provide all of these properties. For example, they cannot replace sugar in cakes because the sugar also adds bulk and stiffness. Possibly the main use of intense sweeteners is in the production of low calorie, or low energy foods. These are especially suitable to people suffering from diabetes. Bulk sweeteners, such as xylitol and malitol, are less sweet but can be used to regulate the texture of the food.
[Source: Science of Cooking; chemistryindustry.biz]
Chemgrit Food is a stockist of various sugar products as well as sugar alternatives. For more information contact Chemgrit Food.