Sweeteners are used instead of sugar. Are “zero calorie” foods that use “natural sweeteners” such as stevia and licorice, “artificial sweeteners” and “sugar alcohols” dangerous? I will explain the characteristics, safety, and dangers of each.
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Are Zero Calorie Sweeteners Dangerous? Differences and safety between natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners
Foods and beverages labeled as “calorie-free” or “calorie-free” are often found in supermarkets and convenience stores. When it comes to popular products, it is not uncommon to see the original product using sugar and the zero-calorie version of the same product sold side by side. In this case, there are many people who reach for zero-calorie products, believing that zero-calorie products will keep them from gaining weight.
But think about it. A sweet drink with zero calories. If you use sugar, it shouldn’t be zero calories. Can you explain what the heck you use to give it that much sweetness? What many people don’t know is that there are many types of sweeteners that can be used instead of sugar. I will explain each feature and safety in an easy-to-understand manner.
Natural sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols… What is non-caloric sugar?
Calorie-free products use “non-sugar sweeteners” and “sugar alcohols” instead of sugar. That’s why it has a strong sweetness even without sugar. Non-sugar sweeteners include natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners.
■Natural sweeteners: stevia, licorice , monk fruit, etc.
There are sweeteners extracted from plants such as stevia, licorice, and monk fruit. Stevia has 4 kcal of energy per gram, but sweeteners extracted from licorice and monk fruit have no energy. Stevia is said to be 300 times sweeter than sugar, so even if the amount of energy per gram is the same, it is said that the amount used is reduced, resulting in low energy consumption. Licorice and monk fruit are also said to be 10 to 500 times sweeter than sugar, so you can feel a strong sweetness with a small amount.
■Artificial sweeteners: aspartame, sucralose, etc.
Artificial sweeteners include aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and saccharin. All of them are designated additives based on the Food Sanitation Law and have zero calories. There are restrictions on how to use it. For details, please refer to ” About sweeteners other than sugar ” by the National Agriculture and Livestock Industries Promotion Organization . Each type of sweetness has its own unique flavor, and some have the effect of suppressing bitterness in addition to adding sweetness.
■ Sugar alcohols: xylitol, erythritol, etc.
Sugar alcohols include xylitol and erythritol. Sugar alcohol chains such as sorbitol (sorbitol), malditol, and reduced starch syrup are produced (catalytic reduction) by reacting and reducing hydrogen under high temperature and pressure using a nickel catalyst for sugars with reducing groups. Although it is said to be a general term for polyhydric alcohols, it can be roughly described as an artificial sweetener made by combining sugar and alcohol. Artificial sweeteners such as xylitol are known to be gentle on the teeth, and are also used in chewing gum.
Among these, it seems that those that do not have calories are sold as “non-calorie sugar” that can be used as a substitute for sugar.
Is calorie-free sugar healthy or dangerous?
Expert opinion on calorie-free sugar is mixed.
For example, there are some positive opinions, such as, “It’s perfect for patients with diabetes who need a low-energy diet but can’t stop eating sweets.” You end up eating a lot of low-calorie foods, or you gradually lose patience with low-calorie foods and end up eating high-calorie foods.” I’m fine.
In the past, there was a time when artificial sweeteners were expected to be “sweets that do not raise blood sugar levels,” but recently artificial sweeteners may affect the intestinal flora and cause glucose intolerance. Therefore, caution is required. In addition, there seems to be data that pregnant women who consume too much artificial sweeteners are more likely to be born obese.
In response to these various opinions and reports, the author told the patient, “If you really want to eat something sweet, just add one sugar to your coffee a day. No,” he explains. In fact, I also drink coffee with non-caloric sugar at least once a day.
For those who want to know more about the effects on the human body, please refer to ” Masaru Sakurai: Nutrient Intake and Hyperglycemia 5. Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Metabolism, Diabetes 59 (1): 33-35, 2016 ” (PDF). I think it will be
“Zero calorie” food is not actually zero calorie
Also, it seems that some people were surprised to learn that even though it is written as non-alcoholic, it actually contains a small amount of alcohol in ” Do you get drunk if you drink too much!? The same thing can be said about calories.
In fact, just like alcohol, zero-calorie foods are strictly regulated by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare’s ” Nutrition Labeling Based on Nutrition Labeling Standards “. It clearly states that food products with 5kcal or less per 100g (or 5kcal or less per 100ml beverage) can be labeled as “zero calorie.”
However, in the case of alcohol, some people who are really weak get drunk even by a small amount, but the source of energy is just a few too many calories, and it usually does not lead to weight gain or complaints of poor physical condition. Considering how much 5kcal is in 100g of food, for example, 1 bunch of bok choy (100g) is about 8kcal, so 5kcal in 100g is within the margin of error.
About 10 years have passed since non-calorie sugar became popular. I think it’s become quite common, but it’s still short when you think of it as a “dietary history.” At the moment, it is safe to sell it in Japan, but considering the length of the food history and the amount of intake per serving, it is not calorie-free, so you can eat as much as you want. I feel that it is dangerous to use a large amount of it without worrying about it. I want to make good use of zero-calorie sugar by making a compromise with my brain that craves sweets.