Synthetic sweeteners seem like a miracle food. They require no land for growing, no smoke-belching refineries, and most of them pass through your body unmetabolized, which is what makes them zero-calorie and safe for diabetics, since they dont affect blood sugar levels. The perfect food of the future.If only.
The promise of a calorie-free treat has stronger pull than any of these deterrents, which is why the next big sweetener is always around the corner.
Dig into the backgrounds of the Big Four artificial sweetenerssaccharin, cyclamate, aspartame and sucraloseand youll find no shortage of fraught history. There have been questions of safety. Cancer in lab animals. Reports that sugar substitutes actually encourage weight gain. And they dont taste that good.
But the promise of a calorie-free treat has stronger pull than any of these deterrents, which is why the next big sweetener is always around the corner. The histories of these compounds also reveal the unexpected roads the scientific discovery process takes; the path to sugar-free sweetness takes detours through everything from coal tar to ulcer medication.
In the Beginning, There was Saccharin
Saccharin, named for the Latin word for sugar, was discovered accidentally in 1897 by a Johns ...