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Virtual Chembook has an introduction to sweeteners of sugars and non-carbohydrate sweeteners.


Sweetness is probably the most obvious role of sugar in foods; however, there are a number of others. For example, in candy making the structural role of crystallization is usually critical. In baked products, sugar not only contributes to the browning of the product, but it may serve to tenderize the product through its action on both the gelatinization of starch and denaturation of protein. Before further elucidating the roles and functions of sugar in the various food products it becomes important to be aware of the relative properties of the various sweeteners.

Following are some of the numbers for the relative sweetness of sweeteners and sugars. It is the standard to compare the sweetness of a product to sucrose.

fructose140 173140
sucrose100 100100
glucose70-80 74.3 70-80
70DE corn syrup70-7570-75
regular cornsyrup50
maltose30-50 32.5 30-50
galactose 32.1
lactose2016.0 20
high conversion corn syrup 65
regular conversion corn syrup 50
HFCS-90% 120-160
HFCS-55% >100
HFCS-42% 100
invert sugar 50
sorbitol 50
xylitol 100
saccharin 30,000-50,000
sucrol [dulcin] 20,000
honey 97
molasses 74
sorghum syrup 69
corn syrup 30

Sucrose is 100 and the standard of comparison


Low cal
Manufacturer Intensity(sweetness of
Saccharin PMC 300X
Aspartame NutraSweet Co. 180X
Acesulfame K Hoechst Celanese 200X
Alitame Pfizer 2,000X
Sucralose McNeil 600X

Food Engineering, October 1993, p. 102.

Relative Sweetness of Sugar Alcohols [25C tap water; sucrose 100.
Xylitol 90
Sorbitol 63
Galactitol 58
Malitol 68
Lactitol 35

Approximately Sweetness with Sucrose=1.

acesulfame K 200
aspartame 180
chloroderivatives of sucrose 5-20000
cyclamate 30
dihydrochalcones 300-2000
fructose[crystalline] 1.2 - 1.7
glycyrrhizin 50-100
HFCS[55%] 1
HFCS[90%] 1.5
L-sugars 1
mannitol 0.7
monellin 1500-2000
saccharin 300
sorbitol .54-0.7
stevioside 300
talin 2000-3000
xylitol 1

What are the practical implications of the varying sweetness?

What do the above sugars have in common?

The problem with having a number for sweetness is that it does not take into account the interactions. Powers [Powers, M.A. 1994. Sweetener blending: How sweet it is!. Journal American Dietetic Association 94: 498.] discusses the synergy and interaction between individual sugars and sweeteners. These interactions were summarized as follows:

Permission Pending for Excerpt from Powers, M.A. 1994. Sweetener blending: How sweet it is!. Journal American Dietetic Association 94: 498.


Gordon, J. 1965. Evaluation of sugar-acid-sweetness relationships in orange juice by a response surface approach. Food Research 30: 903.

Guthrie, J.F. and J.F. Morton. 2000January. Food sources of added sweeteners in the diets of Americans. Journal American Dietetic Association 100(1): 43. Hussain, R.A., L.J. Poveda, J.M. Pezzuto, D.D. Soejarto, and A.D. Kinghorn. 1990April-June. Sweetening agents of plant origin: phenylpropanoid constituents of seven sweet-tasting plants. Economics Botany 44(1): 174.

Negbi, M. 1992January-March. A sweetmeat plant, a perfume plant and their weedy relatives: a chapter in the history of Cyperus esculentus L. and C. rotundus L. Economics Botany 46(1): 64.

Powers, M.A. 1994May. Sweetener blending: How sweet it is! Journal American Dietetic Association 94: 498.

Shallenberger, R.S. 1980. Predicting sweetness from chemical structure and knowledge of chemoreception. Food Technology 34(1): 65.

Shallenberger, R.S. 1990. Introduction to sweetness chemistry. Cereal Foods World : 377.

Soejarto, D.D., C.M. Compadre, P.J. Medon, S.K. Kamath, and A.D. Kinghorn. 1983. Potential sweetening agents of plant origin. II. Field search for sweet-tasting Stevia species. Economic Botany : 71.

Updated: Sunday, March 30, 2008.

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