Low-Calorie Sweeteners

Are you struggling to control your sweet tooth?

When you have diabetes, including sweets in your diet requires careful planning. However, it can be hard to just save sweets for special occasions.

Curb Your Cravings

Foods and drinks that use artificial sweeteners are another option that may help curb your cravings for something sweet.

Sometimes low-calorie sweeteners are also called artificial sweeteners, sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners. They can be used to sweeten food and drinks for less calories and carbohydrate when they replace sugar.

The sweetening power of most low-calorie sweeteners is at least 100 times more intense than regular sugar, so only a small amount is needed when you use these sugar substitutes.

Also, with the exception of aspartame, all of the sweeteners listed below cannot be broken down by the body. They pass through our systems without being digested so they provide no extra calories.

Still, many foods containing low-calorie sweeteners will provide some calories and carbohydrate from other ingredients. That means foods that carry claims like "sugar-free," "reduced sugar" or "no sugar added" are not necessarily carbohdyrate-free or lower in carbohydrate than the original version of the food. Always check the nutrition facts panel, even for foods that carry these claims.

FDA Approved

There are five artificial sweeteners that have been tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

  • acesulfame potassium (also called acesulfame K)
  • aspartame
  • saccharin
  • sucralose
  • neotame

These sweeteners are used by food companies to make diet drinks, baked goods, frozen desserts, candy, light yogurt, and chewing gum. You can buy them to use as table top sweeteners. Add them to coffee, tea, or sprinkle them on top of fruit. Some are also available in "granular" versions which can be used in cooking and baking.

What's The Deal With Stevia?

Stevia is also referred to as Rebaudioside A, Reb-A, or rebiana. Technically, Reb-A is a highly purified product that comes from the stevia plant and is several hundred times sweeter than sugar. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Reb-A is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as a food additive and table top sweetener. When something is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, it means that experts have agreed that it is safe for use by the public in appropriate amounts.

For more information, visit the Food and Drug Administration website at www.fda.gov.

Sugar Substitutes in the Store

The chart below lists the brand names seen in stores for each sweetener:

Sweetener Name   Brand Names Found in Stores
Acesulfame Potassium   Sunett
    Sweet One
Aspartame   Nutrasweet
    Equal
Neotame   N/A
Saccharin   Sweet 'N Low
    Sweet Twin
    Sugar Twin
Sucralose   Splenda
Stevia/Rebaudioside A   A Sweet Leaf
    Sun Crystals
    Steviva
    Truvia
    PureVia

For more information about any of the above products, use your preferred search engine to search for and visit the manufacturer's website.

  • Last Reviewed: August 1, 2013
  • Last Edited: January 31, 2014

Articles from Diabetes Forecast® magazine:

Diabetes Forecast