People are born liking the taste of sweetness. Sweet-tasting compounds help hide unpleasant tastes, thereby allowing the development of more palatable foods, health care products, and medicines. Sweet taste perception and liking for sweetness varies across individuals according to different reasons such as genetic, exposure during childhood, being fed or fasted, and addiction. Food and drug administration (FDA) approved five Nonnutritive sweeteners and regulates them as food additives and they are the following: Saccharin, Aspartame, Neotame, Acesulfame-k, and Sucralose. They called Nonnutritive because they give a sweet taste without providing energy. A survey conducted in United States showed that the consumption of these sweeteners is 25% for children and more than 41% among adults, and these numbers considered as high percentages.
Some interesting facts about these Nonnutritive sweeteners:
- Excreted rapidly in the urine and doesn’t accumulate in the body.
- Cross the placenta, this is why other sweeteners are favorable over saccharine during pregnancy.
- Approved as a food additive to foods and beverages, table top sugar substitutes, and gum and can be used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
- The FDA approved aspartame as a sweetener for a number of dry uses (eg, tabletop sweetener, cold breakfast cereal, gelatins and puddings) and in chewing gum and then this approval was expanded to include carbonated beverages.
- Consists mainly of three components: aspartic acid, methanol, and phenylalanine, and these are found in much greater amounts in the normal diet in fruits, vegetables, meat, and milk.
- Many studies show that 95% of consumed sweetener is excreted unchanged in the urine and thus does not provide any energy.
- Is marketed as a sweetener with a clean sweet taste without bitter,metallic, or off flavors.
- Partially absorbed in the small intestine, rapidly metabolized by esterases, and excreted in urine and feces.
- Poorly absorbed and excreted unchanged in the feces.
- Was approved as a tabletop sweetener and for use in a number of desserts, confections, and nonalcoholic beverages.
Other general facts about Nonnutritive Sweetener & health:
- For children: the estimated intakes of nonnutritive sweeteners are below the established acceptable daily intakes for all approved sweeteners.
- Many studies show that the effects of nonnutritive sweeteners on reproductive abilities in females and males as well as on the developing fetus considered safe.
- During pregnancy, the consumption of the five nonnutritive sweeteners within acceptable daily intakes is safe.
- Saccharin has the ability to cross the placenta and may remain in fetal tissues because of slow fetal clearance. It is uncertain how the combined exposure in utero and in diet may influence cancer risk.
- Individuals who wish to lose weight may choose to use nonnutritive sweeteners but should do so along with a suitable weight management program including a balanced diet and physical activity.
- They can be used in medical nutrition therapy for diabetic patients and may help control energy intake.
- They didn’t show significant effects on behavior, especially when consumed within the acceptable daily intakes.
American Dietetic Association Report. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners, Journal of The American Dietetic Association. 2004 Volume 104 Number 2; 255275-.
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