Artificial Sweeteners Examples


Sweetness is one of the five basic taste perceptions, and it is generally more preferable than the other four. Although individual postnatal preferences may differ, research demonstrates that humans are genetically and biologically programmed to crave sugar. This happens because sugar ingestion triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter chemical that regulates emotional responses such as reward, novelty, and motivation. Moreover, sugar also releases endogenous opioids, a chemical that creates a surge of pleasure when we consume sweet goods. Several studies have linked excessive sugar consumption to various physiological ailments such as obesity, diabetes, dental decay, and heart diseases. These discoveries have raised numerous health concerns and led people to switch to a safer alternative known as Artificial Sweeteners. In simple terms, artificial sweeteners are the chemical substitutes of natural sugars, which are used as food additives to give foods a sweet flavor while containing lesser calories than sugar. They work by stimulating the sweet-taste receptors on the tongue and thereby creating a synthetic impression of sugar. The artificial sweeteners can be 200-20,000 times sweeter than natural sugars while having significantly low calories than the latter. Artificial sweeteners are becoming increasingly popular as a way to cut calories, manage weight, manage diabetes, and avoid cavities. Nonetheless, the safety of using artificial sweeteners has become controversial since some animal studies have linked them to cause adverse health effects, with some of them even being a potential carcinogen. Due to this, artificial sweeteners are generally subjected to a safety assessment to determine their benefits and dangers before being used. A health organization, such as the FDA, evaluates all scientific studies and decides the maximum amount of each sweetener that can be consumed in a day without producing any negative effects. Here are some examples of artificial sweeteners that are generally recognized as safe for consumption.




Aspartame is one of the most commonly used artificial sweeteners, and it is available in the market with the trade names NutraSweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin. Like many other food additives, aspartame is designated with E number E-951. It is a non-saccharide compound with sweetness 200 times stronger than that of sucrose (Table Sugar).  Chemically, Aspartame is a methyl ester of the aspartic acid ({C}_{4}{H}_{7}{NO}_{5}) and is denoted by the chemical formula {C}_{14}{H}_{18}{N}_{2}{O}_{5} and the IUPAC name Methyl L-α-aspartyl-L-phenylalaninate. Aspartame falls under the category of nutritive artificial sweeteners as it contains few calories; however, due to its extreme sweetness, it is only used in minute quantities for culinary arts. More than 100 studies have suggested that replacing table sugar with aspartame reduces calorie intake and body weight in adults and children. Unlike many other artificial sweeteners, aspartame does not lose its sweet characteristic in the baking process and lasts longer; therefore, it is often mixed with other artificial sweeteners in food and beverage manufacturing.



Acesulfame-K, also known as Ace-K, is a potassium (K) based artificial sweetener that is commercially available under the trade names Sunett and Sweet One. The food additive code assigned for Ace-k is E-950, and the IUPAC name and chemical formula are Potassium 6-methyl-2,2-dioxo-2H-1,2λ6,3-oxathiazin-4-olate and {C}_{4}{H}_{4}{KNO}_{4}{S}, respectively.  Although acesulfame-K has the same level of sweetness as that of aspartame, i.e., 200 times stronger than table sugar, it falls under the category of non-nutritive artificial sweeteners as it is free of calories. Ace-k is primarily known for its long shelf-life under variable temperatures, and therefore, it is often used as a sugar substitute in the manufacturing of frozen desserts, candies, beverages, and baked goods. Ace-k is often mixed with other artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame and sucralose to mask its bitter aftertaste. Over 90 studies done on the safety assessment of Ace-k consumption have concluded it a “Generally Recognised as Safe” (GRAS) food additive.



Sucralose is a calorie-free artificial sweetener sold under the trade name Splenda and indicated by the food additive code E-955. The chemical structure of sucralose is very much similar to that of sucrose as it is prepared from sucrose by replacing three hydroxyl groups with chlorine atoms. The chemical formula of sucralose is {C}_{12}{H}_{19}{Cl}_{3}{O}_{8}. The sweetness of sucralose can range anywhere between 320-1000 times stronger than that of sucrose. It is generally advised for diabetic patients to use sucralose instead of any other artificial sweeteners as its consumption has very little or no effect on sugar and insulin levels of the body. Studies have shown that only the people suffering from severe obesity show any significant elevation in insulin levels. Unlike many other artificial sweeteners, sucralose can be used for baking purposes as it remains stable under temperature change. Nonetheless, some studies have challenged the use of Splenda or sucralose for baking. These studies found that prolonged heating of sucralose can cause it to break into chloropropanols, which are linked to having adverse health effects, including increased cancer risk and infertility in men.



Neotame is a non-nutritive artificial sweetener sold under the trade name Newtame, and it is indicated by the E number E 962. It is a chemical derivative of another artificial sweetener aspartame and has the chemical formula {C}_{20}{H}_{30}{N}_{2}{O}_{5}; however, it is much stronger than aspartame in terms of sweetness. Not only is neotame 8000 times sweeter than table sugar, but it also has none of the negative side flavors of other artificial sweeteners, such as a bitter aftertaste. Neotame can be found in several food products such as carbonated soft drinks, desserts, tabletop sweeteners, and bubble gum. It can either be used on its own, or in combination with other artificial sweeteners such as Saccharin. Neotame is rapidly transformed to methyl ester and a little amount of methanol by esterase, which is present throughout the body. This metabolic process produces de-esterified neotame, which is excreted in urine and feces within 72 hours of consumption. Several studies have shown that neotame is safe to consume with the acceptable daily intake limited to 0.3 milligrams per kilogram by body weight.



Advantame is a non-caloric artificial sweetener indicated by the E number E-969. Like aspartame, advantame is also derived from aspartic acid ({C}_{4}{H}_{7}{NO}_{5}) and have the chemical formula katex]{C}_{24}{H}_{30}{N}_{2}{O}_{7}[/katex]. It is one of the sweetest artificial sweeteners with sweetness 20,000 times that of table sugar. The chemical structure of advantame has 2 stereocenters around which four stereoisomers can form. Although most of the advantame is derived from aspartame, it can also be prepared from another organic compound called Vanillin {C}_{8}{H}_{8}{O}_{3}. Ajinomoto.Co is one of the biggest producers of advantage. Advantame is usually soluble in water and ethanol, and it has great chemical stability. Due to these reasons, it is commonly added as an artificial sweetener in bubblegums, soft drinks, jellies, and even in dairy products. Around 37 animal and human studies, purposed to examine the possibility of reproductive, cancer-causing, and neurological negative effects, show that advantame is safe for human intake.



Saccharin is one of the oldest non-nutritive artificial sweeteners that became famous during the First World War due to sugar shortage. Chemically, saccharin is a white crystalline powder derived from o-toluene sulfonamide or phthalic anhydride and has the chemical formula {C}_{7}{H}_{5}{NO}_{3}{S}. The food additive code assigned for saccharin is E-954. Saccharin is around 300–400 times sweeter than table sugar and leaves a metallic bitter aftertaste when consumed in high quantity. It is frequently combined with other artificial sweeteners for flavor and can commonly be found in beverages, sweets, biscuits, and pharmaceuticals to conceals the unpleasant flavors of other chemicals in oral hygiene products. It can also be used as a tabletop sweetener like sugar. Moreover, saccharin has some key distinguishing characteristics over other artificial sweeteners, e.g., it is used in the metal industry to increase the hardness and brightness of the nickel plate. In 1977, the FDA attempted to ban saccharin after animal studies proved that it caused cancer in rats; however, the evidence was not supportive enough to show that saccharin has a carcinogenic effect at lower dosages, and saccharin remains a popular sweetener despite competition from other sweeteners and its metallic aftertaste.

Sodium Cyclamate


Sodium Cyclamate is one of the least potent commercial artificial sweeteners with a sweetness 30-40 times that of table sugar, and it is indicated by the E number E-952, Chemically, it is a sodium salt of cyclamic acid and has the chemical formula {C}_{6}{H}_{12}{NNaO}_{3}{S}. Although sodium cyclamate is rarely used alone as an artificial sweetener, it is frequently combined with other artificial sweeteners, particularly saccharin, in a 10:1 ratio (ten parts cyclamate to one part saccharin). It is less expensive than most artificial sweeteners, including sucralose, and it maintains its stability when heated. Although sodium cyclamate has low toxicity, studies have shown that it can metabolize cyclohexylamine, which has been shown to increase the risk of cancer in rats and humans. Sodium cyclamate has been banned in numerous nations, including the United States, since the late 1960s, based on these researches; nonetheless, it is still a permitted artificial sweetener in more than 50 countries.



Alitame is a dipeptide artificial sweetener derived from the aspartic acid, and it is indicated by the E number E- 956. It is 2000 times sweeter than table sugar and leaves no off-flavors. It was first developed by the famous chemical company Pfizer in the early 1980s, and since then, it is commercially sold in some countries under the trade name Alcame. Chemically, alitame is made up of aspartic acid and alanine amide and has the chemical formula {C}_{14}{H}_{25}{N}_{3}{O}_{4}{S}. Alitame is quickly absorbed, processed, and eliminated in the gastrointestinal tract and has received approval in several countries, including Australia, Chile, Columbia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Mexico, and the People’s Republic of China for use in a variety of foods and beverages. Nonetheless, several studies suggest that consuming aspartame regularly is harmful to people suffering from obesity and may raise the risk of metabolic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes.

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