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Sugar substitutes are used in many foods. Most sugar substitutes do not provide significant calories; however, foods containing sugar substitutes may not always be lower in calories than similar products that contain sugars. Unless you reduce the total calories you eat, the use of sugar substitutes will not help with weight loss.

Sucralose. This is the newest approved sugar substitute and is made from a process that begins with sugar. It is about 600 times sweeter than sugar. Sucralose is extremely stable and does not break down in cooking.

Acesulfame-K is 200 times sweeter than sugar. Acesulfame K is stable at normal temperatures and does not break down in cooking. (Common brand name is Sunette.)

Aspartame. This approved sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It contains the two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. It is an excellent sweetener with no aftertaste. Aspartame cannot be used in baking, because it breaks down with heat. Persons with PKU (phenylketonuria) should avoid its use. (Common brand names are Nutra-Sweet and Equal).

Saccharin. Used around the world since the turn of the century, it is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is very stable in foods, but it imparts a bitter aftertaste.

Complex carbohydrates are long branching chains of simple sugars connected together—the proper name for this form of carbohydrate is starch. These sugars are abundant in common plant foods, like corn, potatoes, rice, whole wheat flours, and beans. Green and yellow vegetables also synthesize and store complex carbohydrates, but in lesser amounts.

Dietary Fiber is another chain form of complex carbohydrate, but its structures are not digested by the human intestine. Although providing no calories, fiber is important for proper bowel and other metabolic functions.

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