Sugar, fructose, Aspartame or other artificial sweeteners, what should we choose?
Most preferably, we should stay away from sugar, it’s just empty calories and does not contribute with vitamins or minerals. But, that’s so good! Maybe not sugar in itself, but the sweet taste that sugar provides, either in a hot cup of cocoa, freshly baked buns or a small chocolate bite.
Sugar and blood sugar
Sugar, or sucrose, as it is also called, has high glycemic index (GI). Food and drink with high GI causes blood glucose to rise quickly and much something that is unfortunate for weight and health. In addition to having high GI, sugar contains a ton of calories, which means that you are consuming too much sugar and sweets. Fortunately, there are alternatives. Artificial sweetener for example. In addition, there have been new types of sugar such as fructose, stevia and sucralose. You can read more about this below.
Aspartame, Acesulfame K, Saccharin, Cyclamate, and Sucralose are examples of artificial sweeteners that give sweet taste without affecting blood sugar. These sweeteners do not contain calories with the exception of sucralose, but this also contains minimal calories. The artificial sweeteners are also without calories, which means we can drink soda, chew gum and eat sugar-free pastilles and sugar-free drops without getting calories.
Some believe that it can be harmful to get too much artificial sugar, but despite countless studies and lots of research, one has not yet been able to prove that this is dangerous as long as you do not use unnatural amounts, such as to drink 10 liters of soda every day for several years. Some feel that they get hungry and get a bigger sweetener of drinking soda or eating other things containing artificial sugar. This is highly individual and if you are one of those who do so, you should of course cut down on the intake of this type of sugar. Especially if you are overweight and want to reduce your food intake.
Maltitol, Xylitol, Isomalt and Sukrin (Erythritol) are what we call for sugar alcohols. These are considered natural and affect the blood sugar to varying degrees. Sugar alcohols contain calories, but less than regular sugar. While a sugar alcohol contains 2-3 kcal per gram (with the exception of sukrin containing almost nothing), sugar gives 4 kcal per gram. The advantage of sugar alcohols is that they are tooth-friendly, but the downside is that they may seem to be laxative if you take too much of them. An exception is sukrin that does not have a laxative effect in normal use.
At the same time as there was more focus on the food’s glycemic index, it became more common to use fructose instead of regular sugar. The reason for this is that fructose has a lower GI and stimulates the body’s secretion of insulin to a much lesser degree than other sugar. This is especially important for overweight and people with diabetes or insulin resistance, because a large insulin secretion is associated with increased weight.
Fruits are found naturally in many foods such as fruit, berries, fruit juices and a little in cereals and vegetables. Fructose has a stronger sweets than regular sugar, so you need far more sucrose than fructose to achieve the same sweet taste. Fructose and sucrose contain as much calories, but because you need less fructose than regular sugar, you get less calories using fructose. Many have therefore completely switched to fructose and use this in favor of other sugars.
Some researchers believe this is an unfortunate development, for example, because fructose can increase the level of triglycerides in our body, which is associated with increased occurrence of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, some people tend to think that it is almost healthy to eat fructose, which is directly wrong. Just like regular sugar, fructose consists only of empty calories.
Stevia is a sweetener extracted from a plant called Stevia rebaudiana that has an extremely sweet taste. Stevia originates from Paraguay where the Indians called it for sugar grass. Stevia has a glycemic index of 0 and also contains no calories. This is beneficial, not least for those who want to keep the weight and those who struggle with fluctuating / high blood sugar and possibly. diabetes. Earlier it was possible to get this sweetener in Norway, but a few years ago, it was a ban from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority. The reason was, among other things, that it could not be demonstrated that stevia is not harmful to health, which is necessary for obtaining approved products in Norway. Several researchers believe it is quite safe to use stevia as a sweetener, and the last word is probably not said when it comes to the approval of this sweetener in Norway.
Sucralose, or Splenda as it is also called, is also a sweetener that gives sweets without containing as much as a single calorie. Sucralose does not lead to increased blood sugar and increased insulin secretion, which is both positive for weight and health. In addition, this sugar can withstand both heat and cold, and can therefore replace regular sugar in most cases, especially when baking where other types of sugar are not particularly suitable. In the US this sugar has been in use for several years already, and ultimately sucralose has been approved in Norway. The good thing about sucralose is that it can be used as a substitute for sugar both in baking and cooking. Several people therefore believe that sucralose has come to be and that it will be used to a large extent in the future, including in Norway.