Category 1 - Sugar Alcohols
These may sound consumer friendly but the only reason they are given this name is because part of their structure resembles sugar and the other part resembles alcohol.
They are also called polyols and are highly processed additives.
While Sugar alcohols naturally occur in many fruits and vegetables, the ones used in foods these days are commercially produced in labs & factories.
These are used as sugar substitutes because they are sweet on the tongue and aren’t digested properly by your body, hence they essentially provide the sweetness while having fewer calories, therefore are typically found in many “low” carb, “low” sugar, “No” sugar branded foods.
Some common sugar alcohols found in packaged foods are
1- Maltitol :
Typically processed by hydrogenating starches. It has 75% the sweetness of sugar and contains less than half the calories of normal sugar.
2 - Sorbitol :
Typically manufactured from corn syrup. It has about 50% the sweetness of sugar and contains half the calories of normal sugar.
3- Xylitol :
Typically manufactured and derived from corn in a multi-step chemical reaction that involves the use of sulphuric acid, calcium oxide, phosphoric acid and active charcoal.Has the same sweetness as sugar with half the calories.
4- Erythritol :
It has about 70% of the sweetness of sugar while only having about 6% of the calories ! Typically produced from starch from corn through a process of hydrolysis and further fermentation of derived substances.
Possible Side effects of sugar alcohols may include bloating, flatulence, and diarrhoea . This is why usually you will see the following written on foods somewhere in a small corner when they contain any type of sugar alcohol / polyol
“Excess consumption may have a laxative effect” over consumption may also cause abdominal discomfort ranging from cramps to diarrhoea and dehydration.
While small amounts of these may not cause any side effects, considering the growing use of these across products. One must be careful to read the labels as consuming multiple products with these may lead to over consumption.
Category 2 - Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes that are processed by chemical synthesis and are attractive alternatives to sugar because they add virtually no calories and you need only a fraction of it compared with the amount of sugar you would normally use for sweetness.
They are also known as intense sweeteners and here is look at why , a list comparing the sweetness of commonly use artificial sweeteners with that of normal sugar.
1 - Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than table sugar.
2 - Saccharin is 700 times sweeter than table sugar.
3 - Sucralose is 600 times sweeter table sugar
How the human body and brain respond to these sweeteners is very complex and hence we wont dig deep into that in this article. However one article posted by Harvard health publishing had an alarming part to it which spoke about how it may also be possible that these products/non-nutritive sweeteners change the way we taste food and how Overstimulation of our sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners might limit our tolerance for more complex tastes which certainly something i don’t want to risk considering my love for food.
Category 3 - Others
1- Maltodextrin :
This is a highly processed white powdery versatile additive derived from starch that is used to replace sugar or fat in many foods, it is also used as a carrier for flavours and high intensity sweeteners. It also helps thicken foods, bind ingredients, prolong shelf life and improve texture.
It is high on the Glycemic index and raises blood sugars.
The only reason of adding it to this list is because it is found in a lot of processed foods and a diet high in maltodextrin may lead to certain side effects.
*Not surprisingly, maltodextrin is widely used in foods that people and companies call as "diet foods, Low sugar foods, High protein brownies & cookies etc"
2- Brown Rice syrup :
Another highly processed additive used in foods.
Also called rice malt syrup or simply rice syrup.
The syrup has a glycemic index of 98, which is extremely high. On the contrary table sugar has a GI of 60–70.
It is higher than almost any other sweetener on the market.
*The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar.
When you eat high-GI foods, blood sugar and insulin levels shoot up before crashing,thus leading to hunger and cravings.
Therefore If you consume foods with rice syrup, then it is likely to lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar.
Sometimes after consuming nutrition bars, you end up feeling really hungry after a while, this may be the reason.
Now What ?
-Watch what you eat
-Always read the list of ingredients, more importantly the bottom half of the list
-Find whats hidden in the fine print
-Know what's in your foods
-Do your research
-Avoid all these sugar substitutes whenever possible
*Also, if you haven't guessed by now. We like to stay really far away from all these sweet dangers and a lot of other shady ingredients that don't belong in our foods.The list is so long that we had to create a separate page for it, its all the things we said No Thanks To.