Sugar substitutes, calorie counting
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In the next couple of years, sales of sugar substitutes are expected to top three billion dollars. You have plenty of choices, including newer products like Truvia and Agave Nectar.
For many of us, sweet treats and cakes are irresistible. But, boy, can they wreck a diet! So what about lower-calorie sweeteners? Consumer Reports just tested 11 different ones. Among them Natra Taste Gold and Splenda, Equal, and Sweet'n Low. Also in the tests - Agave Nectar and Stevia Products - marketed as plant-based "natural" alternatives.
Consumer Reports, Amy Keating said, "We looked at calories and price and tasted them to see how they compare with sugar."
Consumer Reports tried the sweeteners in coffee and lemonade. The Sweet'n Low tasted bitter in the lemonade and had a lingering artificial sweetener flavor in both drinks. Even the natural sweeteners had some problems.
"Most of the Stevia-based sweeteners tasted bitter, often with a chemical or medicinal off-flavor," said Keating.
Many sweeteners sold in bulk packages claim to be "perfect for cooking and baking" - so testers baked cakes, too.
"Most of the sweeteners didn't do well in our cake tests. That's because sugar does a lot more than add sweetness. It helps cakes rise and brown and gives them that great texture that we all love," said Keating.
Sweeteners that come blended with regular sugar did do a better job with cakes. But the added sugar adds more calories, too.
So sugar substitutes are better for drinks. Consumer Reports says two to try - Splenda and Equal. They have slightly less off-flavors and just might cure a sweet tooth.
Agave Nectar also did well in Consumer Reports' taste tests of lemonade and coffee. But because it contains fructose, which is a type of sugar, it only saves you a few calories and it costs a lot more than regular sugar.
stevia, consumer, christine park
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