Sweeteners struggle to replace sugar says new report

By Karen Willmer

- Last updated on GMT

Sweeteners struggle to act as a sugar replacement in bakery
products, according to a study of 13 lower-calorie and no-calorie
versions.

The food industry is looking for ways to make products healthier without affecting taste, in light of the rising obesity crisis. However, the new study highlights the difficulties in using substitutes. A Consumer Reports study tested thirteen sweeteners in lemonade, cookies and cake, and found the taste remained similar when used in lemonade, however struggled when used in the bakery products. "Our baking tests turned up major variations in colour, texture, taste and even size of the finished product,"​ the US magazine stated in its latest edition. The magazine is published by the Consumers Union, a non-profit advocacy organisation with a lot of clout.​ The study suggests that using fructose produced the better cakes when the ingredient is used as a sugar substitute. However the cakes still contained a similar amount of calories as with real sugar, and cost five times as much. The magazine said the cake baked with the fructose came in at 72 calories per slice, while the cake baked with sugar contained 77 calories per slice. "By far the best 'fooler' in the lemonade and baked goods was a brand of fructose, which is the type of sugar found in fruit and honey,"​ the magazine said. "When used as directed in recipes for batter cakes, it gave better results than the other sweeteners, but it provided almost as many calories ain the recipes as the real thing."​ Other sweeteners tested included Domino Pure D'Lite Sugar Blend, which contained with 51 calories per slice of cake, and Splenda Sugar Blend, which has 38 calories per slice. However, both sweeteners produced a "mild artificial sweetener flavour". ​When Equal Granular, an aspartame sweetener, was used, the cake baked like a biscuit, "flat, dense and with no hint of sweetness",​ the report said, indicating the product loses sweetness during prolonged heating. The researchers also tested a sucralose and a brown sugar blend on Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies. The company said when the brown sugar was replaced, the cookies came out a "decent, soft baked cookie",​ whereas when both the brown and the white sugars were replaced, the cookies "came out dry, with a prominent, lingering, artificial flavour". ​When the cookies were baked with the aspartame sweetener, the products were tender but unsweet. "Many recipes require at least some sugar to come out right. People who want a product that's free of added sugar would have better luck with fruit,"​ the company suggested. ​However, the research company does point out the continuing issue of the health effects of saccharin and aspartame sweeteners. "Health experts consulted by Consumer Reports said that both aspartame and saccharin are probably fine in moderation,"​ the company added.

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