Last Updated on 1 November 2020 by Ray Plumlee
Sweetness is amongst the five basic tastes of this world. It can be said undisputedly that it is a widely cherished taste too. Sweets are very important for any human being in this world. Happiness is associated with sweets. Everywhere sweets are the first thing to be shared when a festival or grand occasion arrives. Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, or Diwali, sweets are everywhere and connect everyone into one pure bond of sheer happiness.
For centuries, we have been using sugar as the basic form of sweetener. It is actually a natural sweetener extracted from fruits and berries. Whether it is coffee, cake or tea, we use sugar as a mandatory ingredient (even though it is not). Sugar helps us as a source of energy. It even helps maintaining calories and insulin levels of our blood. However, there are disadvantages of sugar too. They can become a cause of obesity, diabetes and abnormal glucose levels in blood. Tooth decay is comparatively a minor problem but it is also caused by excess intake of sugars
It might be surprising for some readers that sugar is not the only natural sweetener. There are other natural items that can be used as sweetening agents and they have their own pros and cons. Stevia is one such natural sweetener. It is extracted from the leaves of a shrub that grows in South and Central America. It is very sweet but has a low calorie count. Stevia helps in lowering the blood pressure and blood sugar level. There are other natural sweeteners like sugar alcohols namely Xylitol and Erythritol. They are less sweet than the common sugar. However, they have some disadvantages. They are partially treated as alcohols and excreted from kidneys. So a heavy intake of these can have drastic causes.
Apart from natural sweeteners, we also have man-made sweeteners at our disposal. They are industrially manufactured due to economical and financial reasons. Sucralose is one such sweetener. It is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Due to this quality, it is widely used in beverages. Its basic structure is similar to sucrose but instead of Oxygen and Hydrogen, it is attached with Chlorine atoms. Aspartame and Neotame are other such sweeteners. Synthetic sweeteners are very helpful in losing weight as they are sweeter and have zero calories. Their zero calorie features are useful for Diabetes patients to have them easily. They also prevent tooth decay.
Despite of their apparent benefits, man-made sweeteners have some drastic disadvantages. They are formed by the chemicals that the body cannot register. Body does not digest them and they are usually excreted out as harmful waste. A study was carried out in University of California-San Diego that took the MRI scan of brain while the subjects took man-made and natural sweets. They concluded that the food rewarding effect that the natural sugar causes are not acquired by the man-made sugars. The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more. Sweet taste without calories makes us crave for more sweets. This causes us to eat more and more sweet food that can have harmful effects.
From the facts presented, we can clearly see that both (man-made and natural) sweeteners have their own pros and cons. It is actually our choice to select whichever option we want to choose depending upon our necessity or problem. Excess use of any of the options can lead to drastic harmful effects that are difficult to counteract later. Sweetness is a blessing in our life and it should be treated as such. It should not be exploited or else it is we who will be in pain.