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A Chronology of Sugar Substitutes

October 29, 2012

Having to watch out for diabetes now, and limit my sugar (sucrose, fructose) intake, I’ve been looking more into sugar substitutes. Let’s run down the ones I’ve had, in order (and packet color, which I see is actually an official code for the substance):

Saccharin (Sweet N Low)
Eventually got a bad rap because of an allegation of causing cancer in rats. This was debunked, but by that time, others rose up.
The basic substance is benzoic sulfilimine, which is a type of chemical compound containing a sulfur to nitrogen double bond. In order to make it water soluble, its sodium salt (or sometimes calcium salt) is what’s used as sweetener. It was accidentally discovered by a chemist working on coal tar derivatives noticed the compound that he had been working on left a sweet taste on his hands.

Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
Same thing, to me. Both had this ridiculous wierd aftertaste, like some sort of chemical, and to some people, gives headaches.
It is a methyl ester of the aspartic acid/phenylalanine dipeptide. (These basically all involve molecules of different acids).

Sucralose (Splenda)
This one seemed to have promise. Advertised as “it’s made with sugar, so it tastes like sugar“. So I eagerly tried it a few years ago, for my morning hot tea with milk. At first it seemed like it might pass, but it still had the aftertaste; only much more bearable than the previous two. (Equal even tried to sue them over their slogan; as “misleading”).
According to Wikipedia (citing http://www.foodinsight.org/Resources/Detail.aspx?topic=Everything_You_Need_to_Know_About_Sucralose): “Splenda usually contains 95% dextrose (D-glucose) and maltodextrin which the body readily metabolizes, combined with a small amount of mostly indigestible sucralose. Sucralose is made by replacing three select hydrogen-oxygen groups on sucrose (table sugar) molecules with three chlorine atoms. The tightly bound chlorine atoms create a molecular structure that is remarkably stable”

Now, the new darling of health and natural foods consciousness is
Stevia
Made from a natural leaf. But it to me tasted almost like the first two. Then, I heard one company’s “Stevia in the Raw” was better. So I just tried that out, in both my hot tea and iced tea. It seems to be better, perhaps like Splenda, but still that aftertaste was there; though again, more bearable than the others. It seemed more noticeable in the hot tea than the iced tea.

When going to whole foods to buy it, I also see something packaged under their “Wholesome” brand called “Zero”. http://www.wholesomesweeteners.com/brands/Wholesome_Sweeteners/Zero.html
It consists of erythritol (Zerose), which is described as “a natural sugar found in our bodies and other organic sources such as fruits and soy sauce”. (Reported to be manufactured in quantity by “chemically converting genetically modified corn into a food grade starch which it ferments to create glucose and then processes further to create erythritol.” ^)

THIS is the one that passes, completely! (as far as the aftertaste). It is less sweet than sugar, but it doesn’t have aftertaste at all! The tea still tastes like sweetened tea, not like it has some strange chemical in it. You can simply add more to make it sweeter, and as they point out, this is OK, since it adds no calories, and is safe for the teeth.
It also looks and feels EXACTLY LIKE sugar, with the same granulated texture.
The one drawback is the crystals taking longer to dissolve in cold liquid.

Looking up all this stuff, I find out that the other sweeteners (including Stevia) are actually hundreds of times as sweet as sugar. And of course, the texture is completely different. It’s finer (and tends to spread on top of the liquid first, right away making it look like some other kind of substance). So they have to add other stuff in it; “bulking agents” such as dextrose, maltodextrin, and often some other stuff, to both dilute the sweetness and try to make the serving size the same for the same amount of sweetness; in addition to improving the texture, I believe. (The Wholesome brand organic stevia I tried had agave inulin (a sugar) plus silica; and Stevia in the Raw has dextrose. These have been called “sugar ninjas“: http://www.loveyourreflection.net/healthy-foods/stevia-beware-of-sugar-ninjas!)

I’m wondering if that’s actually where the aftertaste comes from. Really trying to pay attention to why those sweeteners taste so strange, as I was trying out the Stevia in the Raw, as with all diet drinks (especially if I didn’t even realize it was diet), at the very first, or you could say the “attack” of the taste, it seems like it’s going to be normal. But then it has a quick “decay”, where the taste suddenly drops out, and you’re waiting for it to come back, and it doesn’t. It’s like a “null” feeling. You can’t savor the taste. Yet it’s not completely nothing; there’s like a dry “pasty” feel in your mouth, with a “cooling effect” (especially noticeable when you taste the powder by itself). I realized that you’re actually tasting the sweetness by itself, and sweetness usually enhances the flavor, but the flavor has been cancelled out by the other stuff (it seems), so you’re left with the dulled-down sweetness, the taste of the other stuff, and the texture of the whole mix. It’s like the diet soda goes from regular to seltzer or club soda in a second.
When you taste the sweetener by itself, it has this “sharp” sweet taste; the “saccharine” effect, basically.

The erythritol on the other hand, has nothing else in it (sole ingredient), and as was said, is already the texture of sugar. That’s why that one is tasting best. (Though while all those others are heavily promoted, I never heard of this one until I saw it in the store the other day [original press time]. It itself is also used as a bulking agent for stevia derivatives in some other products like Truvia).

There is also pure stevia extract, in both powder and liquid form, that has either no other ingredient, or the liquid version which has water and vegetable glycerine added. I saw the powder when getting the other two (without the bulking agents, it looks like a fine powder like flour), and got to taste the liquid in a health store afterward. I’m wondering if this is what we supposed to have tried instead of Stevia in the Raw (which is just a brand name, really; not that it’s pure stevia like this is). Without the bulking agents, you need much less of it (a drop or two of the liquid, from a liquid dropper cap).
The liquid tasted a bit funny (the “licorice-like” taste I’ve seen mentioned), and had some of the same “saccharine” sweetness and dry, pasty feel in the mouth afterward, but not the “null” aftertaste of the other sweeteners. I could savor the taste of the tea (Not knowing what to do with the little sample I was given in a cup; way too sweet to just lick it with my fingers; I took the cup to a store and made tea with it). Still tasted a little bit different, but this one is bearable.

I tried The Vitamin Shoppe’s pure stevia extract, which had a tiny 45mg scooper (seems to be the same exact product, including the bottle and scoop, I first saw in Whole Foods under their “365” label), and one scoop did not quite give me enough of a savorable “decay”, but then two scoops gave the tea the “saccharine” taste, but with not as much of the “null” aftertaste; just the overboard funny sweetness wearing off.
Again, I think the problem is the “hundreds of times sweeter than sugar” effect, and Zerose (and one other, below) are the only ones (that I’m seeing so far) not like that.

http://www.stevia-extract-sweetener.com says that their stevia plants have, through cross-polination and selection, a very low Stevioside content, and a very high Rebaudioside A content. The former is the high glycoside in the plant that imparts the bitter taste, so by reducing it, they claim to have eliminated the aftertaste. But their product is only sold online, and I like to try the ones I can pick up and look at first in a store.

The liquid one I tried was from InVite Health, and I don’t know if it’s the related to this one, so if this other one has less of that taste, then I should try it too!

When going to another Whole Foods to get another pack of Zerose, I see yet another entirely different product called
Just Like Sugar. http://www.justlikesugarinc.com.
It consists of chicory Root, Dietary Fiber, vitamin C, calcium, and natural flavors from the orange peel. I see in looking it up that chicory root is healthy, and even kills parasites.
According to this site http://www.buzzle.com/articles/chicory-root-fiber.html it is an inulin (a polysaccharide, which are long carbohydrate molecules). See also http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1048-INULIN.aspx?activeIngredientId=1048&activeIngredientName=INULIN

It’s almost as good as Zerose. It too is not quite as sweet as sugar, but doesn’t have the “intense sweet and bitter licorice after taste” of some stevia products. The texture at first looks like regular sugar, but it is a bit finer, and looks like the other bulked powders when going into the liquid (where it spreads across the top first; like powdered milk).
As some reviewed, it is enough to smooth off the bitterness of caffeine, even though it doesn’t sweeten it that much.

We also got some Celestial Seasonings iced tea brewing cups, which have rebiana (rebaudioside; the version of stevia used in Truvia), and it seems better, with a small “less-sweet” aftertaste. (It took me a couple of drinks of it to even notice).

What I had planned to do is take the Zerose and mix a little bit of the pure extract powder in it. That should be enough to fill in for the lower sweetness, but without changing the taste. I thought this would be the opposite of what is done for Truvia. I was wondering what the stevia/erythritol mix would be like, and it is better than the stevia with the other bulking agents. This further confirms that that other stuff is probably where the “null aftertaste” is coming from.
Doing this with the Just Like Sugar had a good effect. You taste a bit of the super-sweet stevia, but the aftertaste is more “full” from the JLS, and this is what I’m looking for. (This for hot tea with milk. For iced tea, neither the pure stevia nor JLS are as good as they are in the hot tea. They leave a sort of dry, unsweet aftertaste).

But when I finally try Truvia, I find it looks just like what I had planned. You see it consisting of the larger erythritol crystals, so a little bit of the finer stevia must have been added to it, rather than it being primarily stevia or one of those compound-looking powders. A packet is 3.5g, and the erythritol is listed as 3g, so the stevia must be the remaining .5g. (There’s also “natural flavors”; and the powder by itself does smell a little bit like some sort of cake or candy or something; like it has vanilla in it basically, but I don’t know how many grams that contributes).
This is by far the best, as it has no aftertaste, and two packs of it will give you a tiny bit of the “sharp” sweet taste, but no null after-effect.

Just as I figured, the stevia and erythritol fill in for each other. The stevia is too sweet, and the erythritol is not sweet enough, yet does not cut out into the null aftertaste, and also has the same crystalline texture as sugar.
I would still mix the stevia and Zerose myself the next time I got the latter, as the taste could have been better in the Celestial Seasonings tea. It is for the most part perfect when I add one packet on Truvia to it (in addition to a shot of Simply Lemonade, which of course has regular sugar). The erythritol provides the natural aftertaste the rebiana lacks. So I decided to try Zerose with a smaller percentage of stevia; perhaps just a “dusting” of it, to perhaps cover just enough to fill in that missing sweetness.
In my own homemade iced tea, the Truvia [by itself] was pretty much fine, and didn’t leave the less than sweet aftertaste.

Erythritol is considered one of those “sugar ninjas” because it is a “sugar alcohol”*, and this is what Truvia is generally often criticized for; but to repeat, erythritol is not retained by the body, and thus adds no calories/sugar to the blood, and this is what’s important in replacing sugar.
*(this is a hydrogenated form of carbohydrate whose molecular structure makes it part of a hydroxyl group, which is what defines an alcohol. But it’s really neither a sugar, nor an alcohol as we commonly think of them).

I don’t know why they don’t just do away with the other sweeteners and replace all of them with this one right now in “diet” products. Both Coke and Pepsi keep coming out with new diet sodas with new names (“Zero”, “One”, whatever the new names they keep adding), and yet they all still use aspartame/phenylaniline/asulfsame. (Stuff doesn’t even sound edible! And I’m struck by, the special notice AFTER the ingredients”: PHENYLKETONURICS – CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE. I see this is a warning for certain people who have a metabolic disorder, Phenylketonuria or PKU, where they can’t consume aspartame).

What’s really the difference from the old “Diet” version, then? Ironically, Coke and Pepsi actually were involved in the development of Truvia and another one, PureVia, respectively (the latter has dextrose and cellulose powder added; I’ll pass), and I read about the companies using them in their products; but I haven’t been seeing these, so far. So why aren’t they in Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi? (They must have had signed a 99 year contract with the makers of aspartame, or something. I also see a claim that stevia’s approval was delayed for almost two decades because of some anonymous complaint by an industry group, suspected to be connected with the makers of aspartame).

All of the new sweeteners I tried are those I ran across in the store, and could readily buy. One I ignored, because I initially hadn’t seen it in the store (Vitamin Shoppe has it, but I wasn’t paying attention to it before), but kept seeing it in my research on sweeteners is Xylitol. This is another “sugar alcohol” or polyol (like erythritol). It was said to taste “roughly as sweet as sucrose with 33% fewer calories”.

I was going to skip over it, because 33% fewer calories means 66-67%, while erythritol has “95% less calories” (i.e. 5%). I decided to try it anyway (Kal brand), and found it does in fact make the hot tea taste just like it does with regular sugar. (It also like erythritol has the same texture as sugar).
1 serving size of 4g has 10 calories (and 0 sugars, but 4g “sugar alcohols”), while packets of Domino sugar is 3.5g, at 15 calories, and 4g sugar (how are the sugars even greater than the total volume of the packet? They must be rounding that figure up). As all calories are not bad, the worse thing about sugar calorie seems to be the sugars themselves, I’m not sure how this figures in how much healthier Xylitol is than sugar.

This site http://vegetarianspotlight.com/2012/zero-calories-zero-benefits-why-diet-sodas-are-bad-for-you says that depriving your body of the calories (food energy), yet taking in the extra sweetness in artificially sweetened sodas actually had a bad effect. It tricks your body into thinking it’s getting energy, and this makes it thinks it prepare to digest food, and thus crave more, since it’s not actually getting it.
We often associate calories with the amount of sugar in the food, and lowering the sugar does lower the calories. But the thing with calories is that the unused energy turns into fat. Sugar has both this effect, in addition to raising the blood sugar, which causes the insulin/diabetes problem. Since I’m trying to keep blood sugar low, now, I guess the most important thing is the sugars, and the reduced calories will at least help with the weight.
The reputation polyols have is a “laxative” effect, when consumed excessively (Like I saw, over 50g). Erythritol is said to be the exception; or lat least, studies have not found any such problem with it.

So then, comparing the iced tea with Truvia, with Xylitol, the later does taste better, having less of the natural bitterness in the aftertaste. Looks like Xylitol is going to be the way to go.

I then finally do my mix of two 5g packs of Zero with a little less than one 45mg scoop of stevia (I call it “Erivia“!) and find it also works well in both the hot tea and iced tea, though still not as good as the Xylitol in the latter.

Old School“:
Saccharin (Sweet N Low)
Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
Mid-School“:
Sucralose (Splenda)
New School“:
Stevia
erythritol (Zerose)
Xylitol
Just Like Sugar (chicory inulin)


The holy grail of sweeteners I had been waiting for for over 20 years now, was what’s known as “left-handed sugars“. This I learned about in a book called Future Stuff, which also mentioned stuff like electric cars, IIRC, the fat substitutes which eventually came out (Olean/Olestra; the novelty of them seems to have cooled off), and recordable CD’s (CD-R existed, but was very high end, and unheard of by most, and the proposed commercial rewritable format was still Tandy’s THOR-CD, which shortly after would fizzle out as “vapor-disc”. That was one of the big tech things I was waiting for before I got into LED’s).

Left-handed sugar is (not “made with”, but IS) pure sugar, but with the molecules being in reverse form from that of normal sugar. So it doesn’t get picked up by the body, and just passes through without adding to our calories, and thus fat cells. The book said that the sugars, which were found in sources like seaweed, was very hard to produce in quantity. I read a claim that since the molecule is different, the taste receptors wouldn’t pick it up either, but those who deal with it seem to indicate that it tastes just like regular sugar.

It is more scientifically known as “L-glucose” and “L-fructose”, and one company, Spherix, which found it too expensive to be viable, substitutes another sugar, called D-tagatose (D stands for “dexter-“, which means “right hand”; L is “laevan” for “left”), and markets it as “Naturlose™“.

“The right-handed tagatose is similar enough to a left-handed sugar to cause the human stomach to digest only a small percentage of it, making it low in calories. More importantly, Spherix developed an inexpensive method to make tagatose, and patented the method in 1988.” (http://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2004/ch_4.html) Another company, Arla Foods, markets it as “Gaio® tagatose“.

http://www.tagatose.com/naturlose-contact.htm

This does not seem to be commercially available yet, and I hear it is expensive. It’s marketed to companies to use in foods.

So for now, the polyols and Truvia are the best!

See also:
https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/the-next-step-carbs-and-triglycerides

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17 Comments
  1. Here’s the old commercial where I first heard of Truvia, and the jingle stuck in my head. Back then, I was skeptical of any new sweeteners, after trying Splenda years ago. I figured that was as good as they would get (for now), and I may have thought it was just another name for Splenda.

    Twinkle, Twinkle, little pie
    you squash my willpower, like a fly
    you look so innocent, and so sweet
    you convince my lips that we should meet
    you — are a relentless flirt
    oh no; we had, an indecent dessert

    Twinkle twinkle help appears
    stevia leaf, erase my fears
    it made my willpower, a super hero
    as for calories, it has zero

    Twinkle, twinkle, Tru-via star
    Natural sweetness; I love just what you are

  2. When picking up some more Zerose to finally do my experiment making my own mixtures with stevia, I also remembered the Zevia cola I had seen in Whole Foods before, and got a can of the cola.

    Like Truvia, it contains a mix of Reb A and erythritol (7g).

    To me, it tasted basically just like any other diet soda. 😦 The “attack” of the taste is fine, but it quickly drops out into the bland seltzer aftertaste, though not as “chemical”-like as the aspartame sodas. I thought for sure this would be the perfect mix. It seemed to work so well on the teas, but perhaps, the 7g of erythritol listed is not enough. (It doesn’t say how much Reb A there is). Plus, as the vegetarianspotlight link above points out, it’s probably the acidic taste of the carbonation that makes this worse in sodas. The tea you could get away with, because you expect it to retain a little bitterness.

    So next, I brought home some more Zevia, and divided a can between three half full glasses, and added
    •some sprinkling of Xylitol (not sure how much) to one,
    •a 3.5g pack of Truvia to another, and
    •a 5g pack of Zero brand erythritol to another.

    All three worked, and made it taste close enough to regular non-diet soda! (That is, beneath the thick foam it makes).

    So I even sent a suggestion that they add more of these sweeteners. Perhaps simply doubling the reb A/erythritol blend will do the trick; or at least double the erythritol, since it’s the aftertaste we’re trying to improve.

  3. Had my other can of Zevia today, putting two packets of Zerose into the whole 12oz at once. Aftertaste not quite sweet enough, and one more pack would have probably done it, but with my wife expressing concern about using so much of it (she heard some of the claims for when excess is used; though 3 packets—15g, is nowhere near the 50g I heard), I just sprinkled in some Xylitol instead, and that made it good.

    Today being my birthday, I had mulled trying these sweeteners on a cake; something other than liquids, for a change. When I mention the idea to my wife, she then wanted to do it for me.
    So we looked at a few recipes for each of the sweeteners I had. I leaned toward stevia, since so relatively little of it was needed, and my Vitamin Shoppe 1oz container was still mostly full.

    An online stevia recipe said ½ tsp of stevia substituted for every cup of sugar. The cook book cake recipe we used called for 1½ cups of sugar; so that was ½+¼ tsp.
    This led to lumps of butter (regular sugar bonds with butter, or something like that, while other substances apparently don’t), so then I began adding Xylitol and eventually, Just Like Sugar. We also had to add more of the sweetener to get it sweeter. Also, the recipes say you can add apple sauce to help with the consistency, so we added a lot of that. It became smoother, but still resembled cornbread, both the batter and the baked layers.

    For the frosting, we had to make our own “confectioner’s sugar” by mixing in the food processor sweetener with potato starch (which I had to run out an buy from a particular store). We started with two packs of Truvia, but it still wasn’t wet enough. So then, we added two more, and then, the JLS, Xylitol, and pure stevia, and even threw in a pack of Zerose for good measure. My wife doesn’t tolerate the aftertaste of stevia as much as I do (she hasn’t liked any of the teas with it; nor the Zevia), so was trying to get me to not use it.
    I guess Xylitol would have been the best for both the batter and frosting, but since that’s the one I’m liking best, I was trying not to use it up. With more planning, I would have gotten the bigger container from the Vitamin Shoppe (Kal 1 lb, instead of the 6oz).
    The icing by itself was a bit gritty and tastes kind of like batter!

    The finished product; A total bust! 😦
    Perhaps the apple sauce made it flatten into this dense texture (just as I feared, like a moist corn bread, and not tasting much different; it’s supposed to be regular yellow cake), and the icing just had this hard to describe somewhat sweet, but gritty taste. I can force myself to eat it, but she’s trying to convince me not to (even though no sugar, there’s still fats), but to me, it could still be a substitute from buying regular sugar snack cakes (primarily the supersweet Little Debbie).

    So next time, I’ll try just Xylitol, which we read is measured the same as sugar. (Hope it blends like sugar). Really looks like this will be what I’ll be going with, at least until I can find out whether the less-reduced calorie count matters.

    • Zevia responded, and said the sweetness is 97% stevia (no wonder it has such a strong aftertaste); the rest, erythritol, of course; AND, that it had already been reduced in half when the taste of stevia improved! (Wrong direction, to me!) The other customers wanted the erythritol reduced, to nothing if possible.
      Wonder why! I surmise they are either used to the “diet” taste, or they don’t realize that erythritol makes the taste BETTER, not worse!

      I’ll probably continue to buy it, and just add my own erythritol or xylitol. (Can’t do it when drinking out of the can, because of the foaming, so I’ll always need a glass).

  4. Polyol comparison

    Erythritol and xylitol are only two of several polyols (“sugar alcohols”) I’m seeing in my research. I haven’t run across any of the others in stores, and of course always wonder if I can find something better, with the more sugarlike taste (like xylitol), but with the virtually nil calories (like erythritol).

    The next one you’ll usually see in lists of polyols, is maltitol. From what I see, it does’t seem to have as much of the benefits of either erythritol or xylitol. In fact, (aside from the taste being second only to xylitol), it seems to be the least beneficial of all of them.
    I was already wondering what the somewhat higher caloric content for xylitol meant, since the sugars are still 0g. We usually gain or avoid calories based on the sugars, but here they are separate factors.

    So I eventually find this comparison of the nine main polyols with sugars (And added the corresponding info on Just Like Sugar), in both glycemic index and calories per gram:

    Ingredient Sweetness GI Cal/g
    Sucrose(sugar) 100% 60 4
    Maltitol Syrup 75% 52 3
    Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate 33% 39 2.8
    Maltitol 75% 36 2.7
    Xylitol 100% 13 2.5
    Isomalt 55% 9 2.1
    Sorbitol 60% 9 2.5
    Lactitol 35% 6 2
    Mannitol 60% 0 1.5
    Erythritol 70% 0 0.2
    inulin + orange peel 25%? 0 ~1.3

    What it means:
    “The higher the glycemic index (GI), the higher the glucose response in the blood.”

    “Eating pure glucose is given a ranking of 100 — all other foods are in relation to this. So a food with a glycemic index of 95 raises blood sugar almost as much as pure glucose, but a food with a glycemic index of 20 doesn’t raise blood sugar much at all. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the glycemic index does not take portion size into account.”

    http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/faq/f/faqgi.htm
    http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/glycemicindlist.htm

    “Maltitol syrup has a glycemic index of 52, which approaches that of table sugar at 60. The powdered form has a glycemic index of 36, which is still higher than most other sugar alcohols and all artificial sweeteners.”
    With 3 calories per gram (labels will often claim 2); it’s [equal or] higher than xylitol.
    At 75% sweetness, it is only slightly sweeter than erythritol.

    Cargill (the co-developer of Truvia with the Coca Cola Company) markets five of the polyols (supplying brand names to them, with “Zerose®” being the trademark for erythritol): http://www.cargillfoods.com/na/en/products/sweeteners/polyol-sweeteners/index.jsp Here’s a good plug for Zerose: http://www.cargillfoods.com/na/en/ie/reduced-calorie/erythritol-low-and-zero-calorie-formulas/index.jsp

    So comparing all of these polyols, it seems xylitol and erythritol are the ones to stick with. Xylitol for the singular best replacement for sugar tastewise, (but not as much in calorie reduction), and erythritol for the almost total calorie reduction, and with a shot of stevia added to fill in for the lower sweetness.


    Also, just finished the last of my sugar free cake yesterday. If it had tasted better, it would have probably been “inhaled” much sooner). It seemed to taste better after being in the refrigerator. Looking forward to trying it again with xylitol, and hope it does the chemical bond thing with butter like sugar does, else, I could end up with the same texture problem.

    I also see that erythritol comes in totally powdered form (like confectioner’s sugar), but it is really hard to find. I’m seeing it on alibaba.com (an Asian-based trade site which I used to end up on when looking for RGB LED light strings years ago, before they became more available in US stores).

    In other news, McDonald’s still has the egg nog shake!

  5. •I see a 5lb bag of powdered xylitol is sold on http://store.xylitolusa.com/new-powdered-xylitol-5lb-xylitol-bag-north-american-birch ($29.95). The butter cream frosting recipe we used called for 4lb of sugar, and this is about nine cups. I’ll probably just get this 2.5lb bag of regular granulated: http://www.nowfoods.com/Foods/Real-Food/Products/M019899.htm which is at some stores, including one in the area that can order it.

    •Also, I’m seeing ads for the newly released Nectresse. http://www.nectresse.com I may have run across it somewhere, but probably quickly kept going when I saw the “Splenda” logo on it. But it’s not made WITH Splenda, but BY [the company that makes] Splenda.

    It’s actually made of erythritol, sugar, and molasses added to the extract of the Asian melon called monk fruit, which is 150 times sweeter than sugar. The sugars apparently are less enough that it can pass as “zero-calorie”.

    http://www.naturalnews.com/036719_Splenda_Nectresse_ingredients.html

    So this has actual sugars in it (sugar plus molasses), and another “sweeter than sugar” extract, so xylitol and erythritol are still better.

    •Another chicory inulin (like Just Like Sugar): Sweet Perfection http://www.fitsugar.com/SweetPerfection-Sugars-Healthy-Twin-477177

  6. Good news and potential bad news.

    We finally tried again with the sugar free cake, using mostly xylitol this time. I had a nearby pharmacy that carried NOW foods products order the 2.5 pound bag of xylitol, which would make over four cups, tocover the icing. I had the 1 pound KAL container I was using for my tea and Zevia, but had used most of it up. I got another bag of Wholesome Zero (erythritol) also.

    Success! The cake came out much better. The layers remained risen, and it does have a bit of that harder “cornbread” texture, but many homemade cakes have that anyway. It wasn’t dense like the last one. The icing, we decided to mix the xylitol and erythritol. (Grinding down the erythritol in the blender to make it powdered produced a lot of smoke-like fumes! It looks and acts just like white smoke, and would be good for stage effects).

    The icing still came out very crystally, and wasn’t creamy enough; having some of the properties of glaze, though thicker. (I did used to have the same problem way back in my teens when I was making my own birthday and other cakes, and trying to do butter creme. Probably something we’re doing wrong. The one time it did come out perfect in texture and taste, I had tried to mix red and blue food coloring to make purple, but it came out slate gray!) The taste (flavor) of the polyol icing was good, though. Just very sweet and grainy.

    I had just decided that stevia has too much of the “diety” aftertaste (my wife can’t bear it at all), and that xylitol would be the perfect solution I was going with. But now here’s the potential bad news.
    In the research I did, I saw that one drawback it was known for was cramps, bloating and even a serious laxitive effect. Because it passes through the digestive system and doesn’t enter the blood stream (the thing that makes it healthier than sugar), it can ferment and also draw water into the digestive system, causing those problems.
    I have been using it for about a month and a half, and had been musing yet again that I had noticed no effects on me at all. Suddenly, two days ago, I got these crazy gas cramps. And then yesterday, the other problem, continuing today!
    Now, we had gotten the same container of heavy creme we used for the last cake’s icing, and noticed it expired two weeks ago. We didn’t use it for the cake, but I had been putting “shots” of it in my morning tea, in addition to the milk. So then I actually gained some hope that that could be the culprit. I’ve seen others who testified to these problems with xylitol then find something else that could have caused the symptom. But then, this sounds like classic denial. So I’ll have to monitor this, to see if it continues. (One site did say you get used to it and the symptoms stop. Don’t know why I seemed to start out tolerant of it, and this would erupt now).

    The problem was really supposed to be if you take an excessive amount, said to be 40-50g (its laxation threshhold), and seeing that a teaspoon is supposed to be about 4.5g, I figured I was going nowhere near that, with the two teaspoons each for my morning hot tea, and lunch time iced tea or Zevia (again, to improve the aftertaste of the stevia/erythritol mix in both of those products). But then, these are heaping teaspoons, and actual eating spoons at that; not the smaller measuring spoons! If those might be twice as much as a measured teaspoon, then I could be coming close to 36g. (And now, I have this whole cake!)

    Also, I see the laxitive effect is worse if taken with fat blockers. Ironically, as my blood sugar has been fine, now it’s my cholesterol my doctor is addressing, and he gave me Fenofibrate. I’m not sure if that’s classified as a “fat-blocker” (like Xenical), but I do see that it can cause diarrhea. I had been taking it awhile before, and had no problem. So perhaps it’s the Fenofibrate and xylitol together.

    So maybe I’ll have to cool it, if I see it persists. This is why I got more erythritol. Of all the polyols, it doesn’t have this problem; or at least has it the least.

    When I decided to go with xylitol, I figured my “Erivia” method of erythritol/stevia mixing might not work anyway, because you would still have the hypersweet stevia “attack”, and then the decay, into the less sweet erythritol, and it might be the same effect.

    So I resumed testing it in the hot tea this morning, with three heaping tablespoons of erythritol, and added little shots of stevia until it was more sweet. It was probably close to a whole 45mg scoop. And it tasted good! I guess that much erythritol is sweet enough to do away with the null aftertaste effect. I then added three heaping tablespoons to the Zevia cola, and that was good enough. And then, I made a cup of iced tea, with an extra bag of decaf I brought home from the MBTI class, just in case of such an occasion I would want to taste tea later in the day without the caffeine. So about three heaping tablespoons of erythritol (in addition to the shot of Simply Lemonade I use when there’s no lemons, and it has regular sugar, of course) was good for that as well. And this, forgetting to add the stevia! (I ran out of the Keurig Celestial Seasonings brewer tea we had been using. The iced tea had been the hardest to get right with all the sweeteners, and the best thing had been the two heaping teaspoons of xylitol).

    So again, I’ll monitor the xylitol effects, and I have erithritol to fall back on; finding the proper ratio of erythritol to stevia. With a heaping tablespoon as about 21g, and it’s been about 3 for each drink, it would be 63g for every 45mg or perhaps less, of stevia. (Don’t try this with the xylitol! That much of it is not needed, because it’s about as sweet as sugar anyway!)

  7. Just finished the cake, after almost two weeks. Cakes NEVER go that slowly in my house. But as I said, I had to be real careful. Things went well, until Sunday. I had been having one piece of cake every night after work, and I went back to being closer to constipated, as usual. (I also suspended the Fenofibril, for the meantime). However, on Sunday, I stayed home, from sprainingmy ankle on ice the night before. So I had my cake with lunch, but apparently, this was too close to the night before, and pas the laxation threshold for that amount of time. When I began having it in the evenings only, everything was good.
    With the remaining xylitol, I’ll probably try it with any Zevia I might have in the evening first, before I move back the othe earlier drinks.

    A store in the neighborhood, which ordred the 2.5 pound bag of NOW xylitol I used for the cake, ordered a bunch of NOW’s xylitol and erythritol baga. SO shifting back to the latter, I got the 2.5 pound bag. Just in time, as the Wholesome bag was running out. (Went through it fast, since I was using it for both teas or soda every day). Great deal, as it was $13, where the less than half sized Wholesome bagis $10.99.

    Also; honing the stevia/erythritol mix, I find that TWO heaping tablespoons is enough for the hot tea and the iced tea and Zevia (both presweetened with stevia), and close to three are needed for unsweetened iced tea. (For the iced tea, we tried a pack of assorted Keurigs; unsweetened, lemon, peach and rasberry. The peach is real good, with the added erythritol. Tastes just like the Lipton PureLeaf I used to guzzle daily.

    Also trying the other flavors of Zevia. Just finished a can of grape, and had orange a few days ago, and also brought home one Cream and Root Beer. I usually avoid fruit favored sodas, as it’s just like liquid candy, but the grape and orange used natural flavors, and were very good. Also clear. So far, same rule, about two tablespoons of erythritol eliminates the “diet” taste.

  8. Two [really] heaping teaspoons of erythritol are working in all the Zevia’s I’m trying. (Just finished black cherry, and also did lemon-lime Twist, ginger ale, and the ones mentioned above). All that’s left is “citrus”. I won’t bother with the Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew imitations, as I don’t see those as real flavors).
    Also, I’ve started using the Truvia packs in my tea with milk, so I can get rid of those and use less of the pure erythritol.

    Now that the sugar problem looks like it has a good solution, It’s time to move on to the other aspects of my health and diet:
    https://erictb.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/the-next-step-carbs-and-triglycerides

  9. I kind of continued the sugar chronicles over on the next part (Carbs and Triglycerides), but to give a couple of updates to this entry:

    All this time I thought I was getting 0 sugars in my teas, but happened to look at the nutritional information on the Celestial Seasonings “Perfect Iced Tea” K-cups, and saw that the iced tea with lemon had 13g sugars, and the “Half & Half” lemonade iced tea (which I wanted to try next) had 16g. I figured this must come from the lemon flavoring, but the “sweetened” one without lemon I first used also had sugars. I then notice on the top of the cups, it said “cane sugar”. I had not noticed that, figuring the Reb A was the only sweetener. So checking the ingredients again, I see it mentions “cane juice“. I had apparently glossed over this. I had to look it up to verify it was “cane sugar”. Nice way to hide the sugars by substituting the word “juice”!
    I guess this was still an improvement over the 41g I was getting in a bottle of Pure Leaf iced tea (or similar amount for a can of Coke).

    So now, I want to try the plain, unsweetened iced tea K-Cups. So instead of going back to the Simply Lemonade, which has a lot of sugar, I decided to go with organic lemon juice, not from concentrate. This can’t be found in regular supermarkets, which only use the popular “Real Lemon” (from concentrate) brand I grew up with, and tasted too “chemical” to be good in iced tea.

    So I figured I’d find some at Whole Foods, and tried Lakewood Organic, which looked the most natural, advertising itself a s “fresh pressed”, and containing only juice and puree. (there were a couple of other non-concentrate brands as well).
    Still has that a bit of that “pine wax” taste.

    This is the first time for me sweetening tea without milk from scratch, and it seemed so simple just filling in the Reb A with erythritol (again, not realizing the “cane sugar, er. juice” was helping it greatly. Both iced tea, as well as cola, take more to sweeten). So for now, it seems like three teaspoons of erythritol, and about two scoops of stevia extract!

    Also, forgot another sweetener I ran across, Swerve, which is erythritol with “oligosaccharides” and “natural flavors”. It says “Oligosaccharides are sweet, non-digestible carbohydrates extracted from fruit and vegetable sources. They are similar to fiber and can help stimulate beneficial bacteria in the large intestine.” On the Wikipedia article, it says they’re broken down into Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). This one sounds like it would be the latter, which “consist of short chains of fructose molecules.” (GOS is a “prebiotic” that comes from inulin sources, while FOS, while coming ffrom many of the same sources, is the one mentioned as being used as a sweetener). According to The Cholesterol Myth, reviewed on the next part of this series (Carbs and Triglycerides), fructose is “the damaging part of sugar” (p69ff). I’m basically skipping over yet another alternative I’ve found, called “Susta”, because it is inulin (like JLS) with fructose added. So this one mentions “short chains of molecules”, so I wonder if that makes a difference.
    This site, http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2847006#hn-2847006-uses referencing various studies says “in individuals with elevated total cholesterol or triglyceride levels, including people with type 2 diabetes, FOS or inulin (in amounts ranging from 8 to 20 grams daily) produced significant reductions in triglyceride levels”. (Which is what I’m working on now, as covered in the other article).

    It claims that it “measures cup-for-cup just like sugar!” I take it, then, the oligosaccharides must add enough sweetness to it, like the stevia does in my mixes. That is, if it really does make good on its claim to be a cup-to-cup measurement to sugar.

    I ‘ll probably try this one, but I’m not seeing it anywhere I’ve been, so far.

  10. Swerve arrived, and they make the 8oz container look so big in the pictures; or perhaps I just assumed it was as big as the dairy creamer containers it looks like. On top of that, it was only half full.

    In Zevia black cherry (which, recall, is clear), it turns it cloudy, and takes away all the fizz and flavor! In the Twinings Winter Spices K-Cup (which is chamomile with apple-cinnamon), it also turned it cloudy, and taste-wise, it’s seems like Just Like Sugar (which has a bit of the “saccharine” aftertaste), but it’s hard to tell with herbal tea.
    In regular tea with milk, it tastes pretty much like stevia or Truvia. So it is sweeter than Just Like Sugar, but overall is similar to it in taste.
    In all the drinks, it leaves a pasty, flour-like (tasteless) residue, and which I imagine what clouds the clear drinks as well, and has to be the oligosaccharides, since erythritol doesn’t do that by itself.
    (It doesn’t give the ratio of the two ingredients, but attributes all the 5g per serving to the erythritol).

    So this will be OK for the hot tea with milk, and what’s left is to try it with iced tea, but I think I won’t try it with the Zevia cola I just got.

  11. Should point out that when I saw on the label that two tablespoons of Lakewood lemon juice was equal one whole lemon, then I tried measuring it (instead of just pouring “shots”), then it tasted more natural. I even made lemonade with it, by putting just a few spoons in water (with my erythritol/stevia mix as sweetener, of course).
    Next, I still plan to try the other main brand I see; Santa Cruz. (Listed as having just “100% JUICE”; not even “puree” added. Was torn between this and the Lakewood).

    So for the foreseaable future, I’m going with an alternation between erythritol/stevia mixes for easier to sweeten drinks like tea with milk and lemonade, erythritol by itself in drinks that already have stevia (Zevia) and xylitol for harder to sweeten caffeine without milk (iced tea and Zevia cola).

    Just got a box of Xylosweet 4g packets (100), which were hard to find. I had before tried Vitamin Shoppe’s packets (Which seem to be a rebranding of a NOW foods box), but they were smaller (2.5g) and made with this funny plastic lined paper which was hard to open. Even cutting with regular scissors (I had to use heavy duty kitchen scissors! It also had silica added).

    With three and even four packs of Xylosweet, plus about two teaspoons of Lakewood, the iced tea still tastes a bit watery (as it did with the erythritol/stevia mix). Afraid to add more xylitol. Began adding the shot of stevia, like I do with erythritol.
    Just yesterday, I was making the iced tea and the hot tea with milk at the same time, and forgot and dumped a teaspoon of erythritol for the hot tea in the iced tea which I had sweetened with the xylitol already. This finally tasted better.

    I figured using packs of xylitol would help avoid the laxation threshold by making it easier to regulate the portion, and see what exactly I’m using.

    I figure it’s good to alternate and keep using at least some xylitol, because the laxation problem supposedly “resolves as the body’s enzymatic activity adjusts.” Also, helps prevent running out of the erythritol too fast. (I see I can go through a 1lb bag in less than a pay period).

  12. Ohh!! But this is a very nice post!

  13. Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Thanks for providing these details.

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