10 best sugar substitutes

*Editor’s Review of the Best. About the selection criteria. This material is subjective, not an advertisement and does not serve as a guide to purchase. It is necessary to consult with a specialist prior to purchase.

Paradoxically, but it’s a fact: there are many sweet foods in nature. But new sugar substitutes are constantly being synthesized and invented, substances that are many times sweeter than natural sources. What it’s for? First, to find safe products that allow you to lose weight comfortably and without consequences. The second reason – to avoid gaining excessive weight due to improper diet. Everyone knows that fast carbohydrates are the main source of fat, especially in conditions of hypodynamy or reduced physical activity. Sweets and regular sugar are the leaders in the fastest transition to fatty tissue. Sugar substitutes are also necessary for patients with diabetes and high risk of cardiovascular disease. Sweet natural products can greatly increase the appetite, this leads to overeating, and they contribute to weight gain.

Is it possible to give up sugar completely and switch to its substitutes? Yes, you can. The modern chemical and food industries produce a large number of different sugar substitutes, both natural and artificial.

On the way to the synthesis of sweeteners lie the difficulties. The compound must be completely harmless. It may be sweet, but it is poisonous. Perhaps the most famous historical example is lead sugar, or lead acetate. Known since ancient times, it was formed in lead vats during the production of vinegar, obtained from fermented wine back in ancient Rome. Combining with the metal, acetic acid formed beautiful colorless crystals of lead acetate, which was so called “lead sugar”.

Its use and addition to wine is due to the unusual, and quite beautiful flavor it gave the wine. But it turned out to be deadly poisonous, causing lead colic and leading to acute and chronic poisonings. The first official sanitary document with supreme force of law, and even more, is the papal bull of Alexander VI, dated as early as 1498, banning the use of lead sugar.

Also, a synthesized substitute should not affect metabolism, have an intense sweet taste, and dissolve well in water. As a result, of the several tens of thousands of compounds there are not many sugar substitutes left in widespread use, and all of them have been proven by time and scientific research. This rating includes modern sugar substitutes, which can be successfully used for different purposes.

How to classify sweeteners? They can be categorized by:

  1. The sweetness of the sweetness, since practically all of them are superior to sucrose in this respect;
  2. Depending on the caloric content, and this will be important for diabetic patients.

But it is easiest to divide sweet substitutes into two groups. The first group includes true sweeteners, which take part in metabolism, and must be consumed with known precautions. The second group is called intensive sweeteners. This name is not quite clear. It means that almost all members of this group are significantly sweeter than sucrose, but are not included in the metabolism and metabolic processes in any way, and are eliminated from the body without any consequences. Therefore, it would be more correct to call them “ballast” sweeteners. Let us consider the means used for culinary purposes, as well as for replacing sugar in various diseases, which include in the first and second group of sweet substances.

Rating of the best sugar substitutes

Nominationlocationproduct nameprice
The best Metabolic, or metabolic, true sweeteners1Fructose253€
2Melon sugar is erythritol (erythral)520€
Top Ballast, or Intensive Sweeteners1Sucralose320€
6Acesulfame K

Metabolic, or metabolic, true sweeteners

It should be stressed right away that true sweeteners can also be dangerous in overdose and can provoke a metabolic disorder. Sometimes this is not even so much due to the fact that they take part in carbohydrate metabolism as it is due to psychological relaxation. People believe that sweets are safe and begin to consume large amounts of them. This results in a metabolic “imbalance” and, as a consequence, a change in diet. A very important link in pathogenesis is the establishment of conditioned reflexes and the formation of connections in the central nervous system that accustom a person to an excess of sweet.


Rating: 4.9


Fructose is probably the best known sweetener you can buy in pharmacies. It tastes good, and is almost twice as sweet as sugar. Has the same caloric value as sucrose, but twice as much as it is sweet, so it is half as much consumed. This results in a lower total caloric intake, especially since carbohydrates make up 80% of total calories in a healthy diet.

Fructose is widely found in nature, in various berries, fruits, and sweet vegetable crops. The glycemic index of fructose compared to sugar is quite advantageous, only 19 units versus 100 units for glucose. Recall that glucose is part of the sucrose molecule, and half the weight of sucrose is in glucose. Carbohydrates with a glycemic index of less than 55 units. Slow”, they do not saturate as quickly and prevent excessive storage of fat. Fructose, when added to confectionery, desserts, various jams and compotes, not only saves sugar, but also makes the taste of products more intense and pleasant. Of natural sugars, this is the sweetest product, and it is metabolized in the body when consumed in small amounts without the participation of insulin. Fructose should be eaten in amounts not exceeding 35 g per day. The cost of 100 grams – about 100 rubles.

Advantages and disadvantages

If consumed in large quantities, fructose can disrupt carbohydrate metabolism, decrease the liver’s sensitivity to insulin, and accumulate as fat. For persons with diabetes, fructose as a permanent sugar substitute is not recommended, nor is it recommended for persons who are overweight. Excess fructose that cannot be absorbed is converted to glucose, and this pathway would be dangerous. It should be added that fructose has such effects as activation and increase in vitality, so it is recommended for people who lead an active life, athletes, and should be used preferably in the first half of the day, and if it is used in the evening – no later than 2 hours before bedtime.

Melon sugar – erythritol

Rating: 4.8


This substitute was discovered about 40 years ago, its source is a natural starch-containing raw material, most commonly corn. It is called melon sugar because it is present in this crop as well as in toy grapes. Erythritol is slightly less sweet than sucrose and has about 5/6 the sweetness of regular sugar. Therefore, in order to achieve equal sweetness to sugar, it is necessary to add a little more of this substitute, and it is called a “bulk sweetener”.

But at the same time, erythritol has no energy value whatsoever and contains 0 calories. The reason for this zero-calorie effect is the small molecules. They are absorbed in the intestine very quickly, and once in the blood, they are immediately excreted by the kidneys. The cost of erythritol is higher than that of sucrose and fructose, but not by much. One 180 g jar of erythritol in specialized stores for food additives costs about 300 rubles.

Advantages and disadvantages

Erythritol has many advantages and only one small disadvantage. Since it has no energy value at all, it is also of no interest to microorganisms. Therefore, erythritol does not cause tooth decay, because even if left in the oral cavity, it is not a source of food and reproduction for saprophytic and pathogenic microorganisms. It is used in the food industry not only in our country, but also in developed countries such as the United States, Japan, Finland, Canada. Erythritol can be successfully used in confectionery, beverages, as a common substitute for sugar, as well as in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. If a large amount of erythritol is taken at once, it causes a laxative effect, but this effect develops in an overdose of almost all sweeteners, both metabolic and ballast.


Rating: 4.7


Sorbitol is a distant relative of ethyl alcohol, only instead of two carbon atoms there are six atoms in its molecule, and instead of one hydroxyl group (OH) there are six. For the first time it was isolated from the fruit of the mountain ash, from which it got its name. Currently, sorbitol is made from corn starch and other similar starchy raw materials. Unlike the previous substitute, sorbitol is almost completely digested by the body and has a very low caloric value of only 9 on the glycemic index. It is widely used in food industry, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics industry due to its hygroscopic property to absorb moisture. The cost of sorbitol is low: the average price of a 500 g package is 105 rubles.

Advantages and disadvantages

The plus side of sorbitol will be the saving for the body of B vitamins, which, when it is used, is little consumed. It is considered a choleretic substance, and is widely used in tubages (blind probes). It has a pronounced laxative effect: if you take about 50 grams of sorbitol at once, you should “expect” diarrhea, so it is used to combat constipation. Sorbitol is not recommended for use as a long-term sugar substitute because it can accumulate in the body and cause impairment of the function of the retina and peripheral nerves. Although no direct toxicity of sorbitol has been identified, it is not recommended for use in diabetic patients for this reason. If there is a diabetic retinopathy or polyneuropathy, the excessive intake of sorbitol increases the symptoms of this complication of diabetes. In people with a mild course of uncomplicated diabetes, both type I and type II, it can be used as a sweetener, but at the same time the recommended quantity should not exceed 30 grams per day.


Rating: 4.7


Xylitol is a relative of sorbitol and the xylitol molecule is only one carbon atom shorter than the sorbitol molecule, being a five-atom alcohol. It is produced in industry chemically, from various agricultural wastes, and even from wood. Therefore xylitol is an inexpensive substitute, and the cost of a pack of 200 grams of food xylitol is on the average 196 rubles in drugstores. But if you want you can find it even for 140 rubles. Xylitol is not as sweet as fructose, but not as caloric. The glycemic index of xylitol is only 7 units.

Xylitol has been used as an effective sweetener for about 50 years, and during this time its positive and negative sides have been well studied. Compared with sugar, it contains almost half as many calories, and is actively used in people with obesity and diabetes. It does not cause tooth decay, and is included in chewing gum. As a laxative and choleretic drug it is prescribed in dosages of 50 grams or more per day, and in the food industry it is widely used for production of confectionery, carbonated beverages, ice cream, and jams. A valuable property of xylitol would be to retain sweetness when heated and it is widely used to produce different kinds of baked goods, which are indicated especially for obese people and diabetics.

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantage of xylitol is its low price, the possibility to use it for liver detoxification and as a laxative. xylitol is not afraid of high temperatures and can be used for making compotes, jams and baked goods, but it is not recommended to exceed 30 grams of xylitol per day. It can cause allergic reactions, create short bursts of insulin and blood sugar, and increase appetite and cravings for sweet foods.

When used frequently, it may contribute to the development of dysbiosis, accumulate in the body, and contribute to the activation of cortical seizure activity in patients with epilepsy. It should be emphasized that it is strictly forbidden to give xylitol to dogs, because for them it is toxic and can even cause a fatal outcome.

The best ballast, or intense sweeteners

This group of sugar substitutes includes synthetic products, and only stevia is an exception. But the main thing is that all representatives of this group are not metabolized in the body and are not incorporated into the metabolism of carbohydrates or other biochemical cycles. This allows them to be widely used in various diets with reduced calories, for weight loss, as well as for the prevention of weight gain. Almost all members of this group are significantly sweeter than sugar, and this almost always saves on sugar. Some of these substitutes are thermostable, some break down when heated. Let’s look at what sweeteners are produced for the food and pharmaceutical industries.


Rating: 4.9


Sucralose is a relatively new, high-quality sweetener that does not break down when heated. It was first obtained about 40 years ago, and has every chance of growing in popularity. Many intense sweeteners have an unpleasant aftertaste, or aftertaste, which sucralose lacks. This substance is safe, and not only for people, but also for animals, it is used even in children and pregnant women. The vast majority of sucralose is excreted unchanged from the body, and 15% is absorbed, but after 24 hours it breaks down and also leaves the body. This substitute is 500 times sweeter than sugar, and its glycemic index is zero. Sucralose does not give the body a single calorie.

It is widely used in the confectionery industry, for the preparation of carbonated beverages of high brand, for the sweetening of fruit juices, and the production of concentrated syrups. Since it is not a breeding ground for the growth and reproduction of microorganisms, it is used for the production of chewing gum. The cost of sucralose is quite high. It comes in small packages, and it is still quite beneficial to use. For example, one package of 14 grams of sucralose can replace 7.5 kilograms of sugar. At the same time its cost is comparable to this amount of sugar. The average cost of this dosage in various stores is 320 rubles. If we take granulated sugar, then at the current price of 44 rubles per kilogram, we get 330 rubles, which is a similar amount, but the weight of sucralose is less, and it has no calories.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Many people will think that since the “cost per sweetness” is the same, it makes no sense to look for this rather expensive substitute. But it should be remembered that sucralose is not metabolized, does not convert into fat, does not contribute to tooth decay, and is used in patients with various carbohydrate metabolism disorders. It does not affect the fluctuations of glucose in the blood, and can be used during dietary meals, the purpose of which will be to normalize body weight. The advantage of sucralose is its wide use in developed countries, and in Canada it has been approved for use for almost 30 years, and so far not a single case of side effect has been identified. That is why this remedy is included in the rating of highly effective and safe sugar substitutes that do not affect the metabolism. The disadvantage of sucralose may be its scarcity in pharmacies, and it is necessary to buy it in special online stores that sell dietary supplements and health products.


Rating: 4.8


Aspartame, or the food additive E 951, unlike sucralose, has a barely noticeable, theoretical caloric value. If you take 1 kg of aspartate, its energy value is only 4 kilocalories. But considering that it is 200 times sweeter than sugar, this amount of aspartate could replace two quintals of regular granulated sugar. You should agree that 4 kilocalories for 2 cents is not much. Therefore, this low caloric value is not taken into account. Aspartame, unlike sucrose, acts slowly on the taste buds, but leaves a certain aftertaste longer than regular sugar. For this reason, it is more pleasant to drink tea with aspartame. Aspartame is synthesized from natural compounds; its source is asparagic acid and the amino acid phenylalanine.

It was the high taste and production from natural ingredients that led to the high popularity of this sweetener in the early eighties of the last century. You can buy aspartame rarely in pharmacies, but mostly it is found on sale in online stores, in the section of sweeteners. So, you can buy aspartame under the brand name Sladys Lux, and it will cost you about 80 rubles per pack, weighing 15 grams. This packet contains 250 pills of aspartame, which is the equivalent of 250 teaspoons of sugar, or two pounds of sugar – sand.

Advantages and disadvantages

The advantage of aspartame is its low price, it can be purchased in many supermarkets and grocery stores, it has almost zero caloric value. However, this compound is considered unstable, and breaks down when heated. This is why aspartame is relatively infrequently used in the food industry. At one time there was a perception that aspartame is harmful because it breaks down in the body while releasing methanol, or methyl alcohol. This fact has been used to criticize aspartame because methanol is a highly toxic poison. If taken as an alcohol surrogate, the most common complication is total blindness due to toxic effects on the optic nerve.

But if you do the right calculations, it turns out that methanol is formed in the human body from the use of ordinary food in larger quantities than from the decay of aspartame. So, if you drink 200 mg of natural juice, and compare it to a carbonated drink sweetened with aspartame, in the first case the production of methanol will be three times more. Also, methanol is synthesized in our bodies from fruit pectin, in amounts far greater than those from processing aspartame. Therefore, aspartame is not only an affordable, but also a safe substitute for sugar.


Rating: 4.7


Another inexpensive synthetic sugar substitute that is not metabolized in the body is this cyclamate. It is practically not sold in pharmacies, but is widely available in various retail chains, and in online health food stores. It is known under the brand name Sladys Classic. Cyclamate is much sweeter than sugar, although not as much as sucralose, only about 40 times. It is not metabolized in the body and is rapidly excreted in the urine. Cyclamate is known in the European Union and more than 40 other countries as an approved food additive under the number E 952. It also has no caloric value, and can be used in diabetics’ diets.

One pack of 1,200 little cyclamate tablets costs only 60 rubles, and each tablet replaces one teaspoon of sugar. If we take the mass of sugar in a teaspoon with a slide of 8 grams, the amount of sweetener in the package is equivalent to almost 10 kg of sugar. The cost of sugar will be 450 rubles., and cyclamate is almost ten times cheaper, and it has no metabolic effects typical of regular sugar.

Advantages and disadvantages

Cyclamate has a number of advantages. It has a good sweet taste and no lingering aftertaste, and is quite reminiscent of regular, traditional sugar. Cyclamate does not provoke tooth decay, can quickly dissolve in hot liquids, is used by diabetics because it has no energy value, and contains no calories. This allows for the widespread use of cyclamate for the administration of medicines. However, this barrel of honey has a fly in the ointment. This substance was once banned in the United States in 1969 because of some data on the teratogenicity of hypothetical metabolites of this substitute, which were produced by bacteria in the human gut (the substance itself is not metabolized by humans). This data is currently being challenged, and the FDA is considering overturning this ban.


Rating: 4.7


Perhaps one of the most elite, and recently introduced to the market is considered an artificial sweetener Neotame, a product of Nutra Sweet. It contains, as in aspartame, asparagic acid and phenylalanine, but in some modification, with the presence of two active groups. This made Neotame 30 times sweeter than aspartame, and the finished substance ended up being 10,000 times (!) sweeter than sucrose. It is currently the sweetest of all the “sweetest” sweeteners and is produced in large quantities industrially. It looks like white crystals, has a completely pure sweet taste, without any additional flavors and aftertaste, even has a higher resistance to temperature than aspartame. In our country it is entered in the register of food additives under number 961, but it is very difficult to buy it. Those who want to experience the “sweet life element” associated with Neotam can try their luck at the world-famous shopping site A

  • baba. And the price per kilogram starts at about $62. Accordingly, you can, as a first approximation, consider that you will buy 10 tons of sugar for this amount, which is not bad at all.

    Advantages and disadvantages

    Neotame’s big plus is its extremely high, pure sweetness. This allows you to save money, it can be used in high-temperature food processing, neotame is resistant, does not affect the metabolism of glucose and carbohydrates, and can be used in people with diabetes, but its use has its own, specific difficulties.

    Its very high degree of sweetness requires adding it to tea literally one grain at a time, and it is very easy to greatly “over-sugar” a small volume of a glass or dish. Therefore, this food additive may be used in the production of large amounts of sweet products, where the risk of overdose is minimal, for example, in the shops that produce ice cream or carbonated beverages. Also a significant disadvantage will be the difficulty of acquiring this sweetener, associated with access to international markets.


    Rating: 4.6


    Stevia is the only sugar substitute named after the “original source”. This is the name of a perennial herb native to America, the source of the sweet drug of the same name. Nowadays stevia is positioned as an effective sugar substitute, with high taste qualities, and therefore considered an extra-class sweetener. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar, but has its own “face”: a rather pleasant herbal aftertaste.

    Commercially it is called “honey herb extract,” and it is quite possible to use stevia to feed diabetics, since its glycemic index is also not unlike zero. Unlike other substitutes in this group, which are artificially synthesized compounds, stevia is a natural product. There is a limit to the permitted dosage for its use for food purposes, which is 2 mg per 1 kg of human weight per day. Sweetener “stevia extract” can be purchased in different forms, both in tablets and in combination with herbs. The price varies: from 200 to 900 rubles, depending on the formulation and composition of the herbs. You can find stevia extract with apples, cinnamon, with ivan tea, and in other gift combinations.

    Advantages and disadvantages

    The advantage of Stevia is its safety, a kind of pleasant aftertaste, the ability to combine the substitute with a variety of tea compositions, to use as a good, elite and original gift. It does not affect peripheral blood glucose levels, can be used for use by patients with diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance, found in various stores. But at the same time it is necessary to maintain an authorized dosage and remember that the main component – stevioside – can lower blood pressure, so should not be used in patients with hypotension, and against the beginning of hypotensive therapy.

    Acesulfame K

    Rating: 4.6

    ACESULFAM K.webp

    Potassium Acesulfame, or Acesulfame K, was produced for a very different purpose. Its purpose was to purify potassium salt in the manufacturing process, but then its unique sweet properties were discovered. Acesulfame is 50% sweeter than saccharin, 25% sweeter than sucralose, and more than 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. It can be mixed with other sweeteners, it is currently known to many as E 950 and refers to synthetic sweeteners. It is used in baked goods, since it does not break down at high temperatures. Acesulfame is shown to patients with an excessive allergic background: it does not cause an increase in allergy symptoms at all. It is used in the pharmaceutical industry, the production of chewing gum, fortified juices and carbonated beverages. The wholesale price of potassium acesulfate – about 800 rubles per kilogram.

    Advantages and disadvantages

    This substitute is an average synthetic sweetener, with no downsides, but also no “chips”. It is inexpensive and causes no side effects. Some time ago, rumors were assiduously circulating that it was capable of causing malignancies, but those were old studies from 1970, and subsequent years of close observation of potassium acesulfame and toxicological expertise have shown these accusations to be unfounded. It is approved for use in the European Union, the United States, and other developed nations.

    In conclusion, for those who have finished the review of “the elements of sweet life” in its entirety, a little bonus. Which current substance would be the sweetest? This compound belongs to the esters, derivatives of aminomalonic acid. Its sweetness is several tens of thousands of times (almost 50,000, five times sweeter than Neotame) greater than sucrose, and literally 3 drops of this substance is enough to make a whole railroad tanker of water, which contains 60 cubic meters, or 60 tons of liquid, sweet. It makes water as sweet as an ordinary glass of tea if two teaspoons of sugar are dissolved in it.

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