Sweetener FAQ'S

How does sugar affect my body?

Sugar gives you energy in the form of calories and provides building blocks for other molecules your body needs such as proteins and fats.

What benefits do natural sweeteners provide other than sweetness?

Natural sweeteners[1]:

  • Provide texture and enhance “mouth-feel”
  • Act as preservatives that protect the flavor, aroma and color of fruit used in jellies, jams and preserves
  • Help brown baked foods
  • Provide fermentable sugars that help bread rise
  • Retain moisture so high fiber products taste better and baked goods stay fresh
  • Contribute to the bulk or volume of ice cream, baked goods, preserves and jams
  • Reduce the harsh vinegar or acid bite in non-sweet foods such as salad dressings, sauces and condiments
  • Control freezing, melting and boiling points of products

Does my body see all natural sweeteners the same way?

Yes! Your body digests sweeteners by breaking them into smaller units, primarily glucose and fructose. These simple sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream, where they are transported to cells and converted into energy. Although individual sugars are metabolized through different pathways, the body sees the same mix of sugars, regardless of sweetener.[2]

Why do we crave sweetness?

Sweetness lets us know that a food is safe to eat which was essential for survival in our hunter-gatherer past.  Sweetness is also your body’s way of recognizing sugar which is an important supplier of carbohydrate energy, vital for good health. Human’s way of life has changed significantly since our “sweet tooth for survival” was formed 12,000 years ago but our craving for sweet things still remains.[3]

Are sugars bad for my health? Will they make me obese?

Sugar and other sweeteners (including HFCS) have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe for use as part of a healthy diet. The key to eating them though is moderation. Just like any other food or ingredient, excessive consumption of sugar can lead to adverse health effects. No single food or ingredient can be blamed for obesity.[4]

Are all sweeteners natural?

Sweeteners such as sugar, honey and high fructose corn syrup that come from plant products are considered natural food ingredients under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for the term “natural.” Under FDA guidance, “natural” means that “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food.” This is in contrast to many high-intensity sweeteners including aspartame and saccharin which are not considered natural and are manmade.[5]

What are fruit juice concentrates?

Raw juice from fruit is purified and filtered to remove fiber and impurities. The resulting fruit juice concentrate is almost identical in calories, sugars and nutrients to sugar, honey or high fructose corn syrup. Additionally, it is metabolized the same way as any of these similar sweeteners. The food industry uses fruit juice concentrates in jams, canned fruits, beverages and some baked goods to improve customer perception of product labels.[6]

Are some sweeteners better for my teeth than others?

Yes. Polyols such as xylitol, sorbitol and erythritol do not contribute to dental cavities. Likewise, high-intensity sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin do not contribute to tooth decay because they are used in such minute quantities. All natural sweeteners, including sugar, honey and high fructose corn syrup, contain carbohydrates that feed bacteria in the mouth and can contribute to tooth decay if consumed in excess.



[1] See generally Alexander RJ. 1998. Sweeteners: Nutritive. Eagan Press; National Honey Board. 2007. Honey: A Reference Guide to Nature's Sweetener; Coulston AM, Johnson RK. 2002. Sugar and sugars: Myths and realities. J Am Diet Assoc 102(3):351-353; International Food Information Council. November 2006. Carbohydrates and Sugars Backgrounder.

[2] See generally Alexander RJ. 1998. Sweeteners: Nutritive. Eagan Press; National Honey Board. 2007. Honey: A Reference Guide to Nature's Sweetener; Coulston AM, Johnson RK. 2002. Sugar and sugars: Myths and realities. J Am Diet Assoc 102(3):351-353; International Food Information Council. November 2006. Carbohydrates and Sugars Backgrounder.

[3] Leopold AC, Ardrey R. Toxic substances in plants and the food habits of early man. Science. 1972 May 5;176(34):512-4; O'Sullivan G. June 2006. Sweeteners: Where do we go from here? International Food Ingredients June/July 2006.

[4] See generally Nobigrot T, Chasalow FI, Lifshitz F. 1997. Carbohydrate absorption from one serving of fruit juice in young children: age and carbohydrate composition effects. J Am Coll Nutr 16:152-158; Chaplin M, Bucke C. 1990. Enzymes in the fruit juice, wine, brewing and distilling industries, in Enzyme Technology. Cambridge Univ. Press.

[5] 58 Federal Register 2302, 2407 (Jan. 6, 1993).

[6] Forshee RA, Storey ML, Allison DB, Glinsmann WH, Hein GL, Lineback DR, Miller SA, Nicklas TA, Weaver GA, White JS. 2007. A Critical Examination of the Evidence Relating High Fructose Corn Syrup and Weight Gain. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 47(6):561-582.