What are low calorie sweeteners

Posted: 01 October 2016

Low calorie sweeteners are used in place of sugar in many foods and drinks to provide people with a reduced, low, or no calorie alternative, as they have the benefit of providing sweetness without calories.

Low calorie sweeteners are intensely sweet compounds, which means that they are several hundred times sweeter than table sugar, and only very small quantities are needed to confer the desired level of sweetness to foods and drinks, while contributing very few or no calories at all to the final product.

Though they are generally referred to as low calorie sweeteners by the scientific community, they are sometimes also referred to as non-nutritive sweeteners, low energy sweeteners, intense sweeteners, high-potency sweeteners and sugar substitutes.

The history of low calorie sweeteners

Humans are born with a natural preference for sweetness. Research suggests that liking for sweetness is innate and expressed even before birth. Traditionally, sugar and honey have been used to make what we eat and drink taste sweet, but over the years a desire to provide sweetness, but with fewer calories and added sugars, has led to the development of a range of low calorie sweeteners.

Low calorie sweeteners have been safely used and enjoyed by consumers all over the world for more than a century. The first commonly used low calorie sweetener, saccharin, was discovered in 1879. Since then, a number of other low calorie sweeteners, including acesulfame K (ace-K), aspartame, cyclamate, sucralose and steviol glycosides, have been discovered and are now in widespread use in foods and drinks worldwide.

Each low calorie sweetener has its own unique taste profile, characteristics and benefit. For further information on the different types of low calorie sweeteners including their history, usage and characteristics, benefits and approval details you may download the factsheets from here.