What Are Sweeteners?

  • Sweeteners are food additives that are utilised in order to stimulate a sense of sweetness in the person consuming the product.
  • Many chemical compounds are considered to be sweet, though only a fraction of these compounds are in use.
  • Some sweet substances such as Lead (II) Acetate are sweet in taste but are also highly


Sweeteners are usually categorised into two main branches, nutritive sweeteners and non nutritive sweeteners. Nutritive sweeteners being those sweeteners that are digested to some extent in the body and as such have a food energy value. Non-nutritive sweeteners are those that are not digested by the body and thus have a negligible food energy value.

Sugar comes under the nutritive sweeteners branch and is the name given to a group of edible crystalline substances, though it is more commonly referring to the substance “Sucrose” (table sugar).

In scientific nomenclature sugar is taken to mean a substance that is classed as either a monosaccharide or a disaccharide.

Briefly explained; a monosaccharide is the simplest form of a sugar and the most basic carbohydrate group. A disaccharide is simply a compound consisting of two monosaccharides.

Other nutritive sweeteners include, the Sugar Alcohols, a group that includes Xylitol.

Examples of non-nutritive sweeteners include Aspartame and Saccharin.

Hence not all Artificial sweeteners are non nutritive.


1http://msds.chem.ox.ac.uk/LE/lead_acetate.html – Chemical Safety site


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