There are two types of sweeteners – nutritive and non-nutritive. Nutritive sweeteners provide calories or energy to the diet at about 4 calories per gram. Non-nutritive sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners do not provide calories and will not influence blood sugar levels.
An excellent sugar substitute is Sugar Free Natura which is Sucralose – a non-caloric sweetener made from sugar. It is derived from sugar (or Sucrose) through a multi-step patented manufacturing process that selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule. This change produces a sweetener that has no calories, yet is 600 times sweeter than sucrose. It tastes like sugar and does not leave an unpleasant aftertaste.
Since Sucralose is non-caloric it adds no calories to the foods and beverages it is added to. It is not broken down like Sucrose and therefore not utilised for energy in the body. It passes rapidly through the body virtually unchanged. Food items made with Sucralose however may contain calories from the other ingredients that are used to make them.
It has been proved through research and clinical studies that Sucralose can be safely consumed by diabetics. It is not recognised by the body as sugar or even as a carbohydrate and is not metabolised by the body for energy. It does not affect blood glucose levels and does not have any effect on blood glucose utilisation, carbohydrate metabolism or insulin production. Over 110 safety studies have been done on Sucralose and also approved by US FDA.
Scientific studies have also shown that Sucralose does not promote tooth decay since it does not support the growth of oral bacteria. It is freely soluble in water at both high and low temperatures and therefore can be used in most food products. It is also heat stable and ideal for cooking and baking without any loss in sweetness. It can be used for making a wide range of desserts and mithais besides being used as a tabletop sweetener like in tea, coffee, lassi and yes can also be used in the making of ice creams.
The specialty of Sucralose is that you can add it during cooking and heating doesn’t affect the taste or leaves an after taste in the mouth. It has come like a boon to the cooking and baking aficionados.
But yes it does not perform certain actions that sugar does. It lacks the browning, tenderizing and moisture retaining properties provided by table sugar. Also it cannot be caramelised or used to make candies. Certain modifications need to be incorporated while using Sucralose. Like when the recipe calls for beating ingredients like butter, sugar and eggs together you will need to beat the ingredients a bit longer to incorporate enough air into the mixture. Baking will not brown as well as when made with sugar. Therefore, addition of cocoa or other dark ingredients may be necessary to get the browning effect. Also ingredients like buttermilk may be needed for moisture retention. Baked goods will get done faster so one will need to check for doneness a bit earlier than the time that a recipe with sugar calls for. Furthermore, these foods will last longer if stored in a refrigerator.
One little word of caution though. All sugar free sweets and desserts need not necessarily be completely free of all sugar. It actually depends on the ingredients of the sweet preparation. If it has fruits and dry fruits, they have natural sugars. In case you do pick up any food item with the label ‘no sugar’ or ‘low sugar’ or ‘reduced sugar,’ remember that they all contain carbohydrates.