With increasing amounts of research blaming sugar for a multitude of health issues including diabetes, obesity and tooth decay, the market for alternative sweeteners has never been stronger. There has been lots of marketing done to convince you that one is better than another and the whole “natural sweetener” trend further complicates things. Let’s break down the confusion once and for all.
Companies have spent huge amounts of money to convince people that “stevia” is a natural sweetener but it’s not as simple as that. Stevia is the name of a plant that has sweet tasting leaves. However, stevia isn’t legally allowed to be used as a sweetener due to safety concerns.
What is allowed is for companies to take stevia and refine it through a chemical process to turn it into compounds called steviol glycosides (E960). And even then, the EU has very tight guidelines on the amount you can use due to continued worries over the long-term effects.
When you see “stevia” listed as a sweetener on food product packaging, the most cynical of us would see that as a marketing trick that exploits the confusion around stevia. It’s also an illegal practice under food label regulations, which clearly state that manufacturers must state “steviol glycosides (E960)”. Furthermore, this sweetener doesn’t have a huge time-tested body of research behind it since it was only approved to be used as a sweetener in 2011 and the long-term effects are yet unknown.
You could argue this shouldn’t even be on the list. Thaumatin is not approved by the many countries including the US to be used as a sweetener and that’s an incredibly important point. By not going through the process of being approved as a high-intensity sweetener, thaumatin hasn’t been through the rigorous testing that approved sweeteners such as sucralose have. Just because something is supposedly “natural” doesn’t make it safer. That’s an important distinction.
Aspartame has been subject to more scare stories than any other sweetener but it’s also the most widely used. It’s on the US EPA’s list of potential carcinogens and for us that’s enough to relegate this sweetener to the scrap heap and not speak of it again.
Our bodies don’t break sucralose down so it passes through without being digested. Having been around for over 20 years, there has been a huge amount of credible research conducted that supports it’s credentials. Used extensively and recognised by all major food regulatory bodies in the world as safe, which can not be said by the other sweeterners on this list, we regard sucralose to be the best (and safest) sweetener on the market today.
Sucralose is also highly stable so your products stay sweet for longer and it can also be used for cooking without breaking down into other compounds. We think it’s important to stick with sweeteners that have been around for a long time, tested thoroughly, low calorie, research tested and widely recognised as safe, which is why sucralose was seen as the best choice for our superfood protein blends.
We chose every single ingredient across our product range (including our sweetener) in accordance with three principles:
1. Functionality – research based evidence to support their consideration
2. Safety – tried and tested over a long period of time with the support of major industry bodies
3. Effectiveness – the right concentrations to make a difference and justify their inclusion
We use lots of natural ingredients but we steer clear of marketing gimmicks and any ingredient must tick the three boxes above. Ultimately, our duty of care to our consumers will always drive our decisions.