There's nothing like the taste of real sugar, but since people want to be able to indulge in sweet things without having to worry about the calories, there's a huge market for sugar substitutes. There's no shortage of choices -- stevia, aspartame, sucralose, sorbitol, acesulfame potassium, saccharin, etc. -- some are natural, while others are artificial. However, sugar substitutes tend to leave a weird aftertaste, or they may have undesirable gastrointestinal side effects. There is also some concern that artificial sweeteners may pose health risks. Since no sugar substitute is perfect, the search continues... Here are a few interesting links about sugar alternatives.
- Tagatose, which looks, tastes, and cooks like real sugar, may be nearly perfect as a sugar substitute. Marketed under the brand name Naturlose, the FDA-approved natural sweetener is 92% as sweet as table sugar, but it contributes only 38% of the calories. [url]
- Xylitol, a natural sweetener, is apparently toxic to dogs. It only takes 3 grams of xylitol to kill a 65-pound dog. When dogs ingest xylitol, it can cause a surge in insulin resulting in a dangerous drop in blood sugar. In higher doses, xylitol may also cause severe liver damage in dogs. [url]
- Synsepalum dulcificum, also known as "miracle fruit," can make sour foods taste sweet. Native to West Africa, miracle fruit is a red berry that contains a protein called miraculin, which binds with taste buds and makes acidic foods taste sweet. The berries, which can cost $2 or more each, have acquired a bit of a cult following, with some fans even hosting "flavor tripping" parties. [url]
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