There is a common belief among Africans that artificial sweeteners are generally unhealthy. This may be due to the fact that overconsumption of added sugars, particularly refined sugars, has been shown to be associated with adverse health concerns, as mentioned by Prof. Hajer Debbabi in the published article titled “Partial substitution of sucrose by non-nutritive sweeteners in sour orange marmalades: effects on quality characteristics and acute postprandial glycemic response in healthy volunteers”.
But this is not always true. Prof. Hajer Debbabi of the University of Carthage, National Institute of Agronomy of Tunisia (INAT), Department of Agri-Food Industries, Tunisia recently conducted as study show that artificial non-nutritive sweeteners may reduce significantly acute high blood sugar levels in healthy people without compromising taste and enjoyability.
In the study, Prof. Hajer Debbabi and colleagues used two formulas of sugar-reduced marmalades by the substitution of 30% of its sucrose content with different commercial, non-nutritive sweeteners (a blend of aspartame-acesulfame-K and sucralose) and given to 12 healthy volunteers, who are trained panelists for sampling and evaluation.
The physico-chemical, sensory, and microbiological analyses of the formulars were carried out, in comparison with a control sample marmalade (which did not contain non-nutritive sweeteners). The blood glucose concentrations were determined in the 12 volunteers, at 30-min intervals until 120 min after consumption of marmalades.
The study result shows that, for physico-chemical properties; marmalade made from artificial non-nutritive sweeteners showed observable variations. But importantly and interestingly, they didn’t show any negative impact in taste and other sensory properties such as enjoyability. Microbiological analysis showed that that the marmalades’ sanitary quality was in accordance with safety standards.
A significant data from the study is that consumption of calorie-reduced marmalades (as prepared using artificial non-nutritive sweeteners) significantly reduced acute postprandial glycemic responses in the volunteers; this effect was more pronounced with sucralose. Acute postprandial glycemic is a type of hyperglycemia that occurs after eating a surgery meal. This can detrimental for persons with diabetes.
The published article can be found at The North African Journal of Food and Nutrition Research