How Sweet Are Sweeteners?

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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All artificial sweeteners on the market today are much sweeter per part than is sucrose. Aspartame is roughly 200 times sweeter, saccharin about 300 times sweeter, and sucralose—the sweetest of all—nearly 600 times sweeter. Sodium cyclamate was the least sweet, at 30 to 50 times the intensity of sugar, and many of its advocates believe that with its less sweet taste, stability when heated, and nonbitter aftertaste, it remains a superior option for sweetening. However, it was removed from the U.S. market in 1969 by the Food and Drug Administration after fears surfaced that it was carcinogenic. Of the artificial sweeteners remaining, only sucralose (branded as Splenda) can be heated, making it the choice for bakers who avoid sugar (although complaints about dryness in the results abound). The key distinction between sucrose and artificial sweeteners, in addition to the intensity of sweetness, is the fact that while sucrose provides food energy and is always absorbed by the body, artificial sweeteners provide no food energy (calories) and can pass through the body without being absorbed.