Which are the common functional sweeteners?

Functional sweeteners refer to food sweeteners with special physiological functions or special purposes, which  include two meanings:

1. Having no adverse effects on health and solving the problem that eating much sucrose is harmful to health;
2. Having a beneficial regulating or promoting effect on human health.

Functional sweeteners are divided into four types: functional monose, functional oligosaccharides, polybasic sugar alcohol and intense sweetener. (Suitable manufacturers can be found in China for all the products listed below, if you have any procurement requirements, please contact me.)

1. Functional monose

Functional monose has the following distinctive properties:

(1) High sweetness, low energy value under the same sweetness and can be used in low-calorie foods.

(2) The metabolic pathway is not related to insulin and can be eaten by diabetic patients.

(3) It is not easy to be utilized by oral microorganisms and has less adverse effects on teeth than sucrose, so it is not easy to cause dental caries.

Crystalline fructose

Crystalline fructose has three advantages: with low glycemic-index, it can enter into intestine directly and be digested and absorbed without being metabolized through insulin, which will be good for health; it can present streptococcus in oral cavity from producing dextran because it cannot easily be changed into acid by the streptococcus in oral cavity.

Crystalline fructose will not cause decayed tooth; it can control people’s weigh effectively by increasing the felling of satiety and reducing fat because it is sweeter than cane sugar but with lower calorie.

L- Sugar

L-sugar will not be digested and absorbed or very small, so there is no energy. L-sugar also cannot be used by most microorganisms, so the recipe prepared with them as sweeteners are not as sensitive and degradable as those prepared with traditional sweeteners.

At present, L-sugar has been used in foods and medical products, including L-gulose, L-fructose, L-glucose, L-galactose, L-allose, L-idose, L-talose, L-tagatose, L-allulose and L-altrose.

Glucose Fructose Syrup(GFS)

Glucose-fructose syrup is a sweetening ingredient widely used in a variety of food products. Glucose Fructose Syrup is a sweet liquid made of glucose and fructose. Unlike sucrose, where 50% of glucose and 50% of fructose are linked together, GFS can have a varying ratio of the two simple sugars, meaning that some extra, unbound glucose or fructose molecules are present. The fructose content in GFS can range from 5% to over 50%.

2. Functional oligosaccharide

Oligosaccharide or oligose, the low-degree polymerized sugar with linear chains or branched chains formed from 2-10 monosaccharide molecules connected by glycoside bonds. Because the human body does not have the enzymatic system to metabolize such oligosaccharides, it becomes indigestible oligosaccharides, that is to say, it will not produce calories when people eat it, it cannot become the nutrient source of the human body, but they have special physiological functions for the human body, so they are called functional oligosaccharides. Therefore, it can be said that the difference between the general oligosaccharides and the functional oligosaccharides lies in whether they can be degraded by gastric acid and gastric enzymes in human body and whether they have special physiological functions for human body.


The sweetness is only  50% of sucrose (sugar). It is a mixture of short-chain carbohydrates made of glucose molecules which are linked with each other through a digestion resistant bonding. IMO is a high quality, high-purity isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO), made from enzymatic conversion of starch. It functions as a dietary fiber, prebiotic and low-calorie sweetener


Human milk is the best nutrition for babies. An important constituent of mother’s milk are oligosaccharides, which keep babies’ intestines healthy and enhance their immunity system. GOS is galactooligosaccharide with great similarities to the composition of human milk, and is highly promoted for use in infant formula and health foods because of its combination of benefites and safety.

Fructo oligosaccharide(FoS)

FOS (Fructose-oligosaccharides) is a mixture of oligosaccharides.FOS can promote the increment of bifidobacterium  ,prevent geting inflamed, improve bowel function, enhance immunity and disease resistance, reduce the incidence of oral cavity ulcer, promote the absorption of minerals in human body, prevent constipation, prevent tooth decay, hairdressing, reduce blood fat, etc.

As functional factor,FOS can be applied to the dairy products, beverage, candy, pastry, livestock products, meat and aquatic products. In addition, FOS is good choice for diabetics.。


The sweetness is only  60%~70% of sucrose (sugar).It is a non-absorbable sugar used in the treatment of constipation and hepatic encephalopathy. It is used by mouth for constipation and either by mouth or in the rectum for hepatic encephalopathy. Lactulose is made from the milk sugar lactose, which is composed of two simple sugars, galactose and glucose.


The sweetness is only  30% of sucrose (sugar). Lactosucrose can not be assimilate in the small intestine, and only reach the large intestine can it be used by bifidobacteria and heighten the proliferative activity of it. Therefore Lactosucrose is classified as low calorific sweetener and food additives. In addition to that, it used in medicine for the treatment of constipation and the venous system disease.


Raffinose in nature is the most famous a three sugar, by galactose, fructose and glucose combined with and become, in most plants all existence, it is also called raffinose, honey in three sugar, cotton candy. Raffinose can smoothly through the stomach and intestines and not be absorbed.

Cottonseed sugar has the whole intestinal and improve the function of the bowel movement also it can Improve the body's digestive function and promote human body's absorption of calcium.

Besides,it has the function of enhancing human immunity and has obvious effect on anti-aging and preventing disease


Raffinose stachyose is an oligosaccharide (tetrasaccharide) consisting of two D-galactose units, one D-glucose and one D-fructose.Raffinose stachyose is less sweet than sucrose, with about 28% on a weight basis.Stachyose is mainly used as a bulk sweetener or for its functional oligosaccharide property.Stachyose is not completely digestible by humans.stachyose from is extracted from Eupatorium Stachyose.This plant is a popular vegetable in the North of China. So stachyose is entirely a natural product, no contamination, no solvent residue.Stachyose is the carbon resources of Bacillus bifidus communis. This microorganism is good in our intestines.

Soybean Oligosaccharide

Oligosaccharides (Oligosaccharides) refers to the saccharides that are formed from 2 ~ 10 monosaccharide molecules that are linked together by glycosides. The molecular weight is 300 ~ 2000, and the boundary is between monosaccharide (glucose, fructose, galactose) and polysaccharide (fiber, starch), and there are two sugars, three sugars and four sugars.

The oligosaccharide, which is used as a "specific health care food", refers to a type of oligosaccharide that has special biological functions that are particularly beneficial to gastrointestinal health, hence the term "functional oligosaccharides".

Soybean oligosaccharide is the general term for soluble sugar in soybean. The main ingredients are sucrose (double sugar), cotton candy (triose), and water sugar (4 sugar). 


Gentiooligsaccharide is heterooligosaccharide of gentiobiose, gentianose and gentian tetrasaccharides. Gentiooligosaccharide has a soft refreshing bitterness, its bitterness is richer and more subtle than the bitterness of naringoside contained in orange peel and it will not be detained on tongue. Gentiooligsaccharide has better moisture retention than sucrose and maltose, so they can keep moisture in food, thereby prevent the aging of starch foods.


The sweetness is only  50% of sucrose (sugar). Xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) are polymers of the sugar xylose. Xylo-oligosaccharides act as a prebiotic,selectively feeding beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and  lactobacilli within the digestive tract. Xylo-oligosaccharides shows potential for practical applications in a variety of fields, including pharmaceuticals, feed formulations, agricultural purposes, and food applications.


Isomaltulose, the sweetness is only  42% of sucrose (sugar), a natural and new functional oligosaccharide, which is distilled from sugarcane and honey. It is white crystal powder, odorless with good sweet taste.  No dental caries, slower rate of hydrolysis than sucrose’s and also can be capable of application in the clinical of parenteral diabetes or other diseases as an energy source. Besides, isomaltulose is a good substitute for special populations which should be carefully chose the sweetener.


Trehalose in nature, there are many edible plants and animals, and microorganisms are widely exist in the body, such as People's Daily life in edible mushrooms, Marine algae, beans, shrimp, bread, and beer yeast fermentation has higher content of trehalose in food.


Chitin/Chitosan is a polysaccharide found in the outer skeleton of insects, crabs, shrimps, and lobsters and in the internal structures of other invertebrates. Chitin is composed of ß(1-4) linked units of the amino sugar N-acetyl-glucosamine, and is the main source of production of chitosan, which is used in a number of applications, such as a flocculating agent, a wound healing agent, a sizing and strengthening agent for paper, and a delivery vehicle for pharmaceuticals and genes.

3. Polybasic sugar alcohol

Sugar alcohols are prepared by hydrogenation of the corresponding sugars with nickel catalyst, which can be divided into primary alcohol and secondary alcohol. The primary sugar alcohol includes erythritol, sorbitol, xylosic alcohol and mannitol. The secondary sugar alcohol includes maltol, isomaltitol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.


Maltol is a naturally occurring organic compound that is used primarily as a flavor enhancer. It is found in the bark of larch tree, in pine needles, and in roasted malt (from which it gets its name). It is a white crystalline powder that is soluble in hot water, chloroform, and other polar solvents. Because it has the odor of cotton candy and caramel, maltol is used to impart a sweet aroma to fragrances. Maltol's sweetness adds to the odor of freshly baked bread, and is used as a flavor enhancer (INS Number 636) in breads and cakes. 


Erythritol is a naturally-derived sugar substitute that looks and tastes very much like sugar, yet has almost no calories. It comes in granulated and powdered forms. Erythritol has been used in Japan since 1990 in candies, chocolate, yogurt, fillings, jellies, jams, beverages, and as a sugar substitute.


Sorbitol is a new kind of sweetener made from purified glucose as material via hydrogenation refining, concentrating. When it was absorbed by human body, it spreads slowly and then oxidizes to fructose, and takes part in fructose metabolization. It doesn't affect blood sugar and uric sugar. Hence, it can be used as sweetener for diabetics. With high-moisture-tatiblizing, acid-resisitance and non-ferment nature, it can be used as sweetener and monisturizer. The sweet intensity contained in sorbitol is lower than that in sucrose, and it can`t be utilized by some bacteria. It can be widely used in many industries such as food, leather, cosmetic, paper making, textile, plastic, toothpaste and rubber.


A diuretic medication, used to remove extra fluid from your bloodstream, and to increase urine output. Mannitol is used along with certain chemotherapy drugs, to prevent kidney damage. It may also be used to reduce fluid pressure in the brain for patients with brain cancers. Mannitol is a white, crystalline solid that looks and tastes sweet like sucrose.


Lactitol is 12 carbon sugar alcohol, can be made from lactose by catalytic hydrogenation, the presence of water type and 2 kinds of products that contain a combined water, sweet and refreshing, and combined with high sweetness sweetening, ways, low hygroscopicity, high solubility, its relative molecular mass and sucrose are similar, is similar to sugar on the effect of water activity, stable in acidic and alkaline conditions, under the condition of the high temperature of food processing is also very stable.Lactositol is suitable for many foods, such as baked goods, sugar-coated confectionery and frozen confectionery.


Erythritol is commonly used as a medium in which to deliver high-intensity sweeteners, especially stevia derivatives, serving the dual function of providing both bulk and a flavor similar to that of table sugar. Diet beverages made with this blend, thus, contain erythritol in addition to the main sweetener. Beyond high-intensity sweeteners, erythritol is often paired with other bulky ingredients that exhibit sugar-like characteristics to better mimic the texture and mouthfeel of sucrose. The cooling effect of erythritol is rarely desired, hence other ingredients are chosen to dilute or negate that effect. Erythritol also has a propensity to crystallize and is not as soluble as sucrose, so ingredients may also be chosen to help negate this disadvantage.

4. Intense sweetener

The sweetness of intense sweetener is very high, usually more than 50 times that of sucrose.


Sucralose, a kind of artificial sweetener which is produced from sucrose. It is 600 times sweeter than sucrose. Currently, it is the most perfect sweetener that human beings have developed so far.

Sucralose is non-calorie and has a pure sweet taste. Sucralose and sucrose are rather similar in the sweetness characteristics such as the representation speed of the sweet taste, the intensity of the sweet taste, the duration of sweetness and after-taste.

Moreover, Sucralose has no bitter taste. Thus, it is one of the most excellent functional sweeteners.


Aspartame’s performance is clean,low calorie and pure taste(200 times sweeter than Sucrose). Aspartame is used in the manufacture of many sugar-free, low calorie and dietary products, such as:Beverages,Table-top,Dry mixes, Dairy, Confectionery, Pharmaceutical. 


Neotame is a no-calorie sweetener, which is a derivative of the dipeptide composed of the amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The components of neotame are joined together to form a uniquely sweet ingredient.

Neotame is sweeter than other marketed no-calorie,sweeteners and is approximately 30-40 times sweeter than aspartame; 7,000-13,000 times sweeter than sugar.

Dihydrochalcone(Neohesperidin dihydrochalcone,NHDC)

As a new sweetner, Neohesperidin dihydrochalcone(NHDC) is roughly 1500-1800 times sweeter than sugar at threshold concentrations, 20 times than saccharin. Beside high sweetness, low calorific value, non-toxicity and safety, the product is well known for having a strong synergistic effect when used in conjunction with other artificial sweeteners and flavour agents .


Glycyrrhizin (or glycyrrhizic acid or glycyrrhizinic acid) is the chief sweet-tasting constituent of Glycyrrhiza glabra (liquorice) root. It is a kind of high sweetness and low calorific value health sweetener, its sweetness is about more than 250 times of sucrose


Stevioside ais natural constituents of the plant Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni . Both stevioside and rebaudioside A are 250~480 times sweeter than sucrose, and have the potential to serve as non-caloric sweeteners. Stevioside is already in use as a food sweetener in a number of South American and Asian countries. Several studies have reported hypoglycemic and hyotensive effects of stevioside and Stevia extracts.

Mogroside V

Mogroside V is a natural cucurbitane glycoside that can be isolated from S. grosvenorii.It is a sweet tasting compound that is used as a low calorie sweetener.Mogroside V has antioxidant properties and possesses tumor growth inhibitory activity in pancreatic cancer models.

Sodium Cyclamate

Sodium cyclamate is a non-nutritive synthetic sweetener, whose sweetness is 30 times that of sucrose, and the price is only one third of sucrose, and it does not have a little more bitter taste as saccharin, so it can be used as an international common food additive in cool drinks, fruit juices, ice cream, pastry food and preserves.

It can also be used for home flavoring, cooking, pickles, cosmetics sweetness, syrup, sugar coating, sweet ingots, toothpaste, mouthwash, lipstick and so on.

Acesulfame K

Acesulfame K is 180-200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), as sweet as aspartame, about half as sweet as saccharin, and one-quarter as sweet as sucralose. Like saccharin, it has a slightly bitter aftertaste, especially at high concentrations. Kraft Foods has patented the use of sodium ferulate to mask acesulfame's aftertaste. Acesulfame K is often blended with other sweeteners (usually sucralose or aspartame). These blends are reputed to give a more sugar-like taste whereby each sweetener masks the other's aftertaste, and/or exhibits a synergistic effect by which the blend is sweeter than its components.

Functional sweetener, with its special physiological functions, can not only satisfy people's preference for sweet foods, but also can not cause side effects and has certain adjuvant therapy for diabetes and hepatopath. Functional sweetener will be the direction for development in the 21st century. It plays an important role in developing the food industry, improving people's health level and enriching people's material life.