Non-nutritive and Nutritive Sweeteners

Christine McKinney, RD, LDN, CDE, Thomas Donner, M.D.
Non-nutritive and Nutritive Sweeteners is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins Diabetes Guide.

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Nutritive sweeteners

  • Nutritive sweeteners contain carbohydrate and provide energy.
  • Nutritive sweeteners are often termed sugars, added sugars or caloric sweeteners.
  • Sugars are found naturally in fruits, dairy products and some vegetables.
  • Sugars are also added to foods and beverages during processing and by the consumer before consumption.
  • The names of sugar commonly found in foods includes: glucose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, maltose, lactose, corn-based sweeteners, honey, molasses, agave nectar and fruit juice concentrates.
  • Sugar alcohols (polyols) contain about half the calories of sugar and are used as a lower-calorie sweeteners.
  • The names of some of the sugar alcohols are: erythritol, glycerol (also known as glycerin or glycerine), hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.

Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS)

  • Have a higher intensity sweetness per gram than nutritive sweeteners.
  • Only needed in small quantities so they provide very few or no calories.
  • Also referred to as artificial sweeteners, low-calorie sweeteners, high-intensity sweeteners and noncaloric sweeteners.

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Last updated: November 29, 2015