Comparing sugar and sweetener | pros and cons

Sugar is now found in almost all foods. It is added to pastries, preserves, marinades, sauces, sausages and much, much more. Glucose can be found even in foods where it is not supposed to be. Sugar is simply a flavor enhancer, a preservative, and simply a food additive.

Of course, modern man can be concerned about so much sugar everywhere. The only thing left to do is to control consumption in the home kitchen as well – or switch to sugar substitutes. Fortunately, there are a lot of them – fructose, stevia, aspartame and xylitol..

But it is not clear what is better: sugar or sweetener and the pros and cons of each product. Let’s get into the intricacies of carbohydrates in this story.

The benefits and harms of sugar


What we call “sugar” is glucose in its pure form. And it, in turn, is a pure carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are the body’s most important source of energy. In the metabolic cycle they break down into other useful substances and compounds. And the results of the conversion are used in all body systems, from the circulatory to the nervous system. Glucose is important for the functioning of muscles, the transmission of signals within the nervous system, the feeding of internal organs and many other vital needs.

Of course, when it comes to metabolism, it is very important to keep a balance. And consuming carbohydrates requires the most responsible approach. The fact that in the metabolic process, glucose breaks down into glycogen, and it, in turn, turns into fat.

Thus, the excessive use of sugar and simply sweet foods leads to obesity. Unless, of course, they “burn” excess carbohydrates with increased physical activity.

In general, the benefits of sugar are as follows:

  1. Feeding the body with energy. It, in turn, is used to run all systems, tissues, organs and cells in the body;

  2. High rate of decomposition. The glucose from sugar is quickly digested and metabolized, so that the body gets the necessary energy almost immediately after a meal;

  3. Critical involvement in the circulation of the brain and spinal cord. You can’t get good blood circulation in the brain tissues without sugar. In addition, its absence or lack of it can lead to sclerotic changes;

  4. Reduced risk of arthritis. Studies show that people who eat sweets in normal or increased amounts have a decreased risk of arthritis.

But if sugar were that useful, no one would call it the “white death. The harm of sugar is as follows:

  1. Increased risk of obesity. Excessive blood sugar in the absence of exercise leads to its deposition as fat. People who consume glucose in large quantities have an increased risk of developing obesity;

  2. Increased stress on the pancreas. It is this internal organ that is involved in sugar metabolism. Inadvertent consumption increases the risk of developing her diseases;

  3. Signs of harm to teeth. Sugars, albeit indirectly, lead to the appearance and development of tooth decay. Bacteria in plaque break down carbohydrates and increase the level of acidity in the mouth. And it actively destroys enamel.

Thus, the greatest harm of sugar is manifested in the inordinate use of. But this does not mean that we can throw everything away and rush to the store for cakes. As mentioned above, sugar is now found in almost all foods.

This is due to the two most important characteristics of sugar as a culinary product:

  1. Taste enhancer. Sugar is a natural alternative for monosodium glutamate, although not as effective. It enhances the taste of the ingredients and also makes it richer;

  2. Preservative. Although sugar is a food for some bacteria, for others it is even poisonous. That’s why it can be used as a preservative. Sugar is added to marinades, brines and, of course, jams and jams – it helps extend the shelf life of the product.

As a consequence, it is very difficult to completely eliminate sugar in the home kitchen. Meals will either not taste good enough or be perishable, or both.

So it’s better not to give up sugar completely, but to control its consumption. Let it stay on the tables, but it is consumed on extremely rare occasions.

So, let us summarize.


  • Vital for the body as a source of energy;

  • Has the effects of a flavor enhancer and preservative;

  • Reduces the risk of arthritis.


  • When consumed in excess, it causes the risk of obesity or just being overweight;

  • It participates in the development of cavities.

But the main disadvantage of sugar is, of course, its ubiquity. Almost all store-bought foods contain it. And that is why it is extremely important to control its intake by replacing it with some carbohydrate.

The benefits and harms of sweeteners

sugar substitute

Sugar substitutes differ from sugar in their chemical composition. They consist of various complex compounds like fructose or stevioside, but these substances are not metabolized in the body by the glucose chain. As a consequence, they act on the body a little differently.

Different metabolic pathways lead to two important consequences:

  1. Not an instant boost of energy. Steviosides, aspartame, fructose and other sweeteners metabolize slowly and serve as a “long-term” source of energy. And, of course, they are useless in hypoglycemic crises;

  2. Even with excessive consumption, they do not “transform” into fat. And this is a pretty useful property of sweeteners. They can be used when losing weight during the fat-burning stage, because then the body will use up carbohydrate and glycogen stores.

In general, any sweeteners are carbohydrates in different compounds. For example, stevioside, the sweet substance from stevia, consists of a carbohydrate residue and a non-carbohydrate aglycon. That is, it can be used by the body as a source of energy, but with two “buts.

First,Energy will come in slower. This is very important to take into account when exercising or working out. Fatigue will come faster, drowsiness or other unpleasant factors will appear. Again, people with unstable blood sugar levels due to various pancreatic diseases or congenital metabolic features can have hypoglycemic crises of varying severity.

Second,The amount of carbohydrates consumed will be lower than the amount of absorbed sweetener. An average of 85 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams of sweetener (including stevia).

Importantalso dispel a very important myth. Sweeteners have calories! Even in aspartame, which is positioned as completely devoid of them. Of course, the caloric value is much lower than that of sugar, but not zero. For example, there are 400 kcal per 100 grams of aspartame.

The secret is that aspartame or stevia is much sweeter than sugar. For example, aspartame is 250 times. So it can be many times less than sugar in ready meals to achieve a sweet taste.

So, it’s time to sort out the health benefits and harms.

Despite the fact that studies confirming the absolute health benefits of sweeteners, there are still relative positive qualities. Among them:

  1. Help with weight loss. Sugar substitutes may be helpful in treating obesity or simply trying to lose excess weight. They are metabolized by a different pathway than glucose, so they do not lead to excess fat. The body, on the other hand, which needs glucose, is forced to burn its “reserves”;

  2. Prevention of tooth decay. Sweeteners do not form an acidic environment in the mouth, thereby not compromising the integrity (including the chemical) of enamel.

However, they are not a “cure-all.”. The harm of sweeteners is manifested in the following:

  1. The risk of prediabetes. Overconsumption of aspartame and similar substances alone can lead to glucose tolerance. This, in turn, can cause diabetes. Therefore it is necessary to use sweeteners wisely;

  2. Reduced reaction time. Some substances lead to a “slowing down” of the areas of the brain responsible for fine and large motor skills. This, in turn, causes a decrease in reaction time, which can be dangerous for drivers and professionals in other professions where quick action is required;

  3. The onset of hunger attacks. Accustomed to getting energy from sugar, the body may be lacking carbohydrates when switching to sugar substitutes. And then it will cause bouts of hunger. It is worth remembering that eating other foods will not be able to finally quench them;

  4. Digestive problems may arise. For people with a sensitive digestive system, taking sweeteners can cause diarrhea or similar disorders. Again, this is due to changes in local metabolic processes in the intestinal microflora, which also requires habitual glucose.

Another disadvantage stems from one of the previous ones. The body, used to glucose, may begin to need the traditional source of energy so badly that the person spontaneously begins to overeat on sweets.

So, let’s summarize.


  • Do not cause fatty deposits;

  • Help with weight loss;

  • Do not lead to tooth decay.


  • Are not a complete substitute for glucose;

  • Can cause serious health problems if consumed in excess;

  • Sometimes lead to uncontrolled eating and consuming sweets.

  • It is very important to consume sweeteners in doses. Prediabetes (glucose tolerance) is an extremely dangerous and virtually incurable disease.

Also worth considering that substitutes do not have the culinary properties of sugar. So they are neither preservatives nor flavor enhancers.

What is better – sugar or sweetener?

So, let’s compare the two substances to determine what to pour into the sugar bowl on the table.




A source of energy for the body

Yes. Works fast, but “burns off” quickly as well

Yes. Starts slowly and is absorbed into the bloodstream gradually

Role in obesity

Metabolizes it into glycogen, which is stored as fat

Do not lead to excessive fat

Role in the development of tooth decay

Create an acidic environment in the mouth that destroys enamel

Some substitutes (xylitol, for example) even strengthen enamel

Importance to the brain and spinal cord

Helpful. Improves circulation

Harmful. Slows down the reaction and transmission of nerve impulses

Use in weight loss

When losing weight it is better to give up sugar altogether

Can be used to sweeten foods

Dangerous to the body

Causes obesity and tooth decay

Can cause pre-diabetes or indigestion and hunger attacks if consumed in excess

Cooking Role

Sweetener, preservative, flavor enhancer


Thus, long-term abandonment of sugar in favor of sugar substitutes is not recommended. Can be used for losing weight or controlling carbohydrate intake.

Given the realities of the modern world and the presence of sugar in almost all products, it is recommended to do as follows:

  1. Keep the consumption of sugar to a minimum, leaving it only in the products consumed;

  2. In drinks and home cooking, replace sugar with sweeteners.

For a complete avoidance of sugar it is better to consult nutritionists and endocrinologists first, because the substance is so important for the body.

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