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The Sweet Guide to Sugar Substitutes and their Uses

Today we explore a different kind of sugar substitutes available at your local supermarket. Their uses, the different varieties, and other sweet facts.

Sugar substitutes available at the local supermarket

Artificial sweeteners have been used for decades to substitute sugar (sucrose). They can be used as an alternative to regular sugars in foods such as cakes and cookies, drinks like coffee and tea, and even yogurt. They can also be found in many foods labelled "diet" or "light." Artificial sweeteners are called sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners. We're going to go with the term sugar substitutes.

The available options for sugar substitutes have grown over the years, and many brands look just like sugar, offering substitutes for brown sugar, caster sugar and more! It's pretty incredible when you look at the sugar aisle at all the options available. So let's take a bit of a dive into the sugar substitute world you might find at your local supermarket for the different varieties, some uses and myth-busting. 

Equal Sugar Substitute 


Equal is probably one of the most well-recognisable sugar substitute brands. I remember Equal back in the 80s with mum's friends popping a tiny round white Equal dot in their coffee. Those tabs are Equal [pardon the pun] to 2 teaspoons of sugar. 

The main ingredients in Equal are Aspartame and Acesulfame. These two ingredients have copped a flacking over the years. As a result, have had extensive safety testing and ADIs (Adequate Dietary Intake) recommendations set for them. Let's look at their ingredients. 


Aspartame is a white, odourless, crystalline powder that tastes like sugar and is about 200 times sweeter.

You'll find aspartame in foods like beverages, desserts, chewing gum, lollies and sweetener products like Equal. The ingredients labels will be labelled as either aspartame or (951). 

Aspartame is made from the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine, so it's not suitable for consumption for people with inherited health conditions like PKU, where phenylalanine is not broken down in the body.


Acesulfame (also known as Acesulfame K, Ace K, or ACK) is a calorie-free sugar substitute that can be used in place of sugar to sweeten foods and beverages. It has the same taste as sugar, but it is much sweeter (150 to 200 times), so you need less of it to get the same level of sweetness.


Splenda is a sucralose-based sugar substitute that can be used to sweeten food and beverages. Sucralose is about 600 times as sweet as sugar and has no calories. It's also really lightweight when you pick up the bag. For any foods containing sucralose you may see the number 955 listed. 


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Monk Fruit Sweeteners with Erythritol

Another variety of sugar substitute you'll notice on the shelves are those of Monk Fruit combined with Erythritol. Let's take a look at these sweeteners in more detail. Brands using Monk Fruit include Lakanto and Whole Earth.

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit, also known as Luo Han Guo, is a plant-based sugar substitute that contains no calories. It has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine.

The flavour of monk fruit is similar to the sweetness of sugar and honey. It does not have an aftertaste like some sugar substitutes do. Monk fruit is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar and has zero glycemic index.

Allergy to monk fruit has been seen in rare instances.  


Erythritol is a sugar alcohol with a low glycemic index and is used as a sugar substitute in the food industry. Interestingly, Erythritol is not as sweet as sugar, and it's often combined with other sweeteners. Erythritol is also a humectant which just means that it helps to keep foods moist. 

Erythritol is a white crystalline powder found in foods like chocolate, baked goods, chewing gum, and non-alcohol and alcoholic beverages like wine coolers and hard ciders. It'll be labelled as either Erythritol or 968.

Consuming too much Erythritol can have a laxative effect, and you'll notice this warning label on any products containing it.

Truvia Sugar Substitute

Stevia-based Sugar Substitutes

Stevia is a plant that is native to South America. The extract from the leaves of this plant has been used for centuries as a sweetener in many countries.

It can be used to replace sugar in many applications, such as baking, cooking, or even adding it to your morning coffee or tea. Brands like Truvia, And NatVia's base ingredient is Stevia.

Why Use a Sugar Substitute?

Whether you use a sugar substitute or stick with sugar really comes down to personal preference. Many of the brands mentioned will market the benefits of their products as having fewer calories and lower effects on raising blood sugar levels which is a consideration in diabetes management.

Interestingly, Diabetes Australia suggests that the use of these sweeteners is not necessary for the management of Diabetes.

Like any ingredient, including sugar, stick to the dietary recommendations for their use, and it'll be sweeet! 


Do you use sugar substitutes in your baking or beverages? Let us know what you like and how you use it.  


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