New sweeteners offer taste, fewer calories

LOS ANGELES The latest to hit the market is Sweet Fiber. Made with chicory root and tropical fruit luo han guo, Sweet Fiber's Chief Executive Officer Scott Taylor says his product has fiber, which is a plus for dieters.

"Fiber helps you lose weight, it helps you feel full, it helps you absorb more minerals like calcium," said Taylor.

One packet equals 2 teaspoons of sugar, but also comes in pour-spout form for baking. Teaspoon for teaspoon, the sweet equivalent is the same as sugar, yet a muffin made with sweet fiber has 5 grams of soluble fiber and won't raise blood sugar like the real deal.

Another product getting sweet reviews is ZSweet.

"ZSweet is all natural, and the erythritol that is the base of ZSweet is found in fruits and it's found anywhere you ferment or culture products," said Tim Avila.

Like corn or cane sugar. At one calorie per teaspoon, ZSweet won't raise blood sugar, nor does it have a nasty aftertaste or cause gastric distress. Diabetics and those with sugar issues might find this a nice solution.

And at 300 times sweeter than sugar, stevia has been used in Asia for centuries, but its concentrated sweetness may take some getting used to.

"The usual home cook is going to have difficulty substituting pure stevia for sugar," said Taylor.

Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have stevia products in the works, but consumers can buy it as a pure extract like Steviva, or in blends for easier baking. The government calls stevia a food additive, not a sweetener. Stevia leaves come from a shrub that stems from the chrysanthemum family.

But one sweetener that does contain calories that is worth a look is agave nectar. Similar to honey or syrup in consistency it easily sweetens hot drinks, tops yogurt or a waffle, and also won't raise blood sugar.

But unlike the other natural sweeteners, agave does contain calories -- as a matter of fact, four more calories per teaspoon than sugar.


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