What are the main characteristics of Natural Sweeteners?
San Antonio, TX, According to the Global Stevia Institute (GSI), when it is said that something is of “natural origin”, it means that it comes from a plant. According to the article A current and global review of sweeteners; regulatory aspects, natural sweeteners are the ones found naturally in fruits, vegetables, cereals or milk, or any other source produced in nature. The article states that there are caloric natural sweeteners and non-caloric natural sweeteners. The caloric ones are divided in sugars – sucrose, glucose, dextrose, fructose, lactose, maltose – and natural caloric sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, palm or coco sugar and sorghum syrup. The non-caloric natural sweeteners include Luo Han Guo, stevia, and brazzein, among others.
Sugars are carbohydrates and therefore its caloric contain is high. They can be harmful to teeth if good oral hygiene is not maintained. Other natural caloric sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, also contain sugar, but they have other nutritional qualities too.
Non-caloric natural sweeteners are not carbohydrates and are considered high-intensity sweeteners.
Luo Han Guo is a non-caloric high-intensity natural sweetener (300 times sweeter than sugar cane). It is extracted from monk fruit, from China, which has been used for hundreds of years. Its sweetness comes from a substance called mogroside in the pulp of the fruit.
The GPS defines highly purified stevia extract as a “naturally sourced, zero calorie, and sustainable sweetening ingredient for foods and beverages.” It is an extract from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana that has been used as a natural sugar substitute around the globe for centuries. It is an option for people who want zero calorie sweetness from a natural source.
The sweetening components of stevia extract are called steviol glycosides. The highly purified stevia extract can contain just one steviol glycoside or several, although the most common are stevioside and rebaudioside A. These sweeteners are up to 480 times sweeter than sugar. Reb A is also one of the most abundant steviol glycosides found in the stevia leaf. Reb A can be extracted from the stevia leaf and can be used in products to achieve a very similar taste of sucrose. There are no changes to the sweet compounds after extraction and purification meaning the steviol glycosides found in the leaf is what ends up in the final stevia extract. The purification process of stevia extract includes the following steps: The dried leaves are steeped in water in order to release their sweet tasting steviol glycoside compounds –among them Reb A. Next, the liquid is filtered and separated from the plant material. Then the extract is purified and dried to obtain high purity stevia leaf extract with the same Reb A as found in stevia’s natural leaves.
- García Almeida, J.M. Gracia M.ª Casado Fdez. and J. García Alemán: A current and global review of sweeteners; regulatory aspects. Nutrición Hospitalaria, 2013.
SVETIA® Calorie – Free Sweetener is made with cane sugar and stevia extract. One packet of SVETIA® contains only one gram of carbohydrates. People with diabetes are advised to check with their registered dietitian or physician.