Nutritive sweeteners –the wide applications and uses

Sweeteners that contain calories and provide us nourishment are known as nutritive sweeteners. Non-nutritive sweeteners, on the other hand, do not contain calories. The most commonly used nutritive sweeteners are sugars all of which have 4 calories per gram or 4 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon. The kinds of sugar like sucrose, fructose, dextrose, corn sugar, maltose, high fructose corn syrup and honey are used in various foods and recipes.

Sucrose is found in table sugar, raw sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar. Fructose or fruit sugar is found in many plants. Corn Sugar is derived from cornstarch. Dextrose is another name for glucose. High Fructose Corn Syrup is sweeter than sucrose and it is added to sodas and soft drinks. Maltose is found in malt, beer and ales. Honey is composed of glucose and fructose.

Another kind of these sweeteners is sugar alcohol, which is a kind of carbohydrate called “polyols”. The sugar alcohols can be used as alternative sweeteners to natural sugars. They contain calories. The most commonly used sugar alcohols are sorbitol, xylitol, isomalt, mannitol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH). They do not pose a health or safety risk until and unless taken in excess. Nutritive sweeteners come under "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) category of foods by FDA or Food and Drug Administration.

Sorbitol is derived from glucose, Xylitol is derived from xylose, Isomalt is derived from sucrose, mannitol is derived from mannose and Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates (HSH) is derived from wheat, corn or potato starches.

Artificial sweeteners or non-nutritive sweeteners, on the other hand, do not provide any calories or carbohydrate per serving. The six major non-nutritive sweeteners are Acesulfame potassium, Aspartame, Neotame, Saccharin, Stevia, Sucralose.

Applications of Nutritive Sweeteners:

As sweetener: They provide natural sweetness and taste to foods and beverages. These nutritive sweeteners are excellent for increasing sweetness of foods and make them delicious. These sugar sweeteners act as flavor and texture enhancer of foods. They can unmask the flavor of spices and fruits.

Nutritive sweeteners add texture to baked goods and prevent bacterial growth in jams and jellies. The glucose based sweeteners offer shelf-stability to foods; they help foods to remain stable over a long period of storage time. These sweeteners contain carbohydrates, are energy giving and beneficial when taken in moderate amount.

The nutritive sweeteners or caloric sweeteners are the most commonly used sweetening agents used in preparing energy drinks and beverages. These are not expensive and add maximum sweetness to the drinks.

Nutritive sweeteners are widely used to sprinkle on foods. These are used in hot and cold drinks as sweetening agent. They are used to add texture and sweetness to cooked products too. As a preservative, nutritive sweetener prevents the growth of micro-organisms and protects perishable food from getting spoiled. These sweeteners are used in jams, marmalades, jams and candied fruits.

Nutritive sweeteners are extensively used in baking and confectionery industry, in preparing cakes, cookies, pies and biscuits. Apart from enhancing the flavor and texture of baked goods they help to improve their quality as well.

Nutritive sweeteners are widely used in processing food; these include a large range of products like jams and ice-creams.

One of the most commonly used sweeteners in wine making, nutritive sweeteners turn fruit sugars into alcohol and extra sugar is used to boost the alcohol content.

When people are concerned of the effects of nutritive sweeteners, research has proved that sugars can be a part of healthy diet and can be included in a carefully planned meal when spread over the day evenly.