What is a "low-calorie" sweetener?

A low-calorie sweetener provides consumers with a sweet taste without the calories or carbohydrates that come with sugar and other caloric sweeteners. Some low-calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame, are "nutritive," but are low in calories because of their intense sweetness. For example, because aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sucrose, the amounts needed to achieve the desired sweetness are so small that aspartame is considered virtually non-caloric. Many non-nutritive sweeteners, such as saccharin, are non-caloric because they are not metabolized and pass through the body unchanged. A wide variety of low-calorie sweeteners are available in the United States.


Is there a need for low-calorie sweeteners?

Without low-calorie sweeteners, many of the reduced-calorie, sugar-free and light products that are in such great demand today would not be possible. A recent national survey shows that Approximately 187 million American adults consume low-calorie foods and beverages — nearly double the number a decade ago. This wave of calorie consciousness has resulted in an exploding demand for low-calorie foods and beverages — what has been referred to as the "light revolution."


Can low-calorie foods and beverages really help me control my weight?

As part of an overall sensible weight-control program, low-calorie foods and beverages can help consumers control calories and therefore control weight. Health professionals agree that the key to losing weight is to burn more calories than are consumed, either by increasing physical activity or consuming fewer calories — or, preferably, both. Low-calorie foods and beverages provide consumers an alternative to higher-calorie, sugar-sweetened products. Recent studies support the effectiveness of low-calorie sweeteners in controlling caloric intake.

Health professionals are increasingly reminding Americans that "calories still count" — and products containing low-calorie sweeteners increase the variety of reduced-calorie choices in the diet. Of course, to lose weight, you must have the willpower to resist consuming the calories that have already been saved, either during the same meal or in the same day.


What are the benefits of low-calorie sweeteners?

Foods and beverages sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners provide a variety of benefits to consumers. Many people consume low-calorie foods and beverages simply because they enjoy the taste and don't want extra, unnecessary calories. People use these products for many reasons in addition to dieting. In fact, most low-calorie product consumers are not on a diet. Research shows that these products have become synonymous with an overall healthy lifestyle, for millions of people. Staying in better overall health is rated as the number one reason for using low-calorie foods and beverages.

In addition to satisfying a desire for good-tasting foods and beverages without the calories, staying in better overall health and helping to reduce or maintain weight, other benefits that consumers derive from low-calorie products include: reduction of dental cavities, management of diabetes, and reduction in the risks associated with obesity.


What are polyols?

Polyols are a group of sweeteners that provide the bulk of sugar, without as many calories as sugar. Polyols used in the U.S. are: erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. In addition to their good taste, polyols have important health benefits. They are reduced in calories compared with sugar, they do not promote tooth decay and they do not cause sudden increases in blood glucose levels.


What is the "Multiple Ingredient Approach" to calorie control?

Using a multiple ingredient approach to calorie control, food scientists can look for and utilize the best "recipe," i.e., the low-calorie ingredient (or combination of ingredients) that is most pleasing for a given product. The result is a greater variety of low-calorie/low-fat foods and beverages that have the taste, texture and appeal of their traditional counterparts.


How can I find out if I have the "fat gene?"

Although a genetic connection to obesity now appears possible, genetic treatments for overweight individuals are probably decades away. In the meantime, people who are overweight still need to know how to "Win by Losing."


What is the biggest myth about weight loss?

That calories don’t count, because they do.

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