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What is the chemical composition of different natural sweeteners?

Natural sugars come from various sources, including sugar cane, sugar beets, honey, maple syrup, dairy products, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Sugars make up the simplest group of carbohydrates we consume, and one of the most common forms of sugar we consume is sucrose. When we talk about ‘sugar’ or ‘table sugar’, more often than not we’re talking about sucrose which is made from a 50-50 mix of glucose and fructose.

As various sweeteners are available in Australia and New Zealand, we delve into the chemical composition of the different sweeteners commonly available on supermarket shelves. 

What is the chemical composition of table sugar?

In Australia, most table sugar products are derived from the sugar cane plant. Sucrose is found in most plants however it’s found in incredibly high concentrations in sugar cane, which makes it an ideal choice of crop for the economic recovery of sucrose when compared to other crop types. 

The chemical formula for sucrose is C12H22O11

Note - If you’re looking for the chemical composition of brown sugar, caster sugar, icing sugar or any other type of sugar that’s derived from the cane sugar plant, the chemical makeup for a majority of these sugar types is C12H22O11

What is the chemical composition of honey?

Sweet, totally natural and golden in colour, honey is a great natural sweetener used in various applications, both commercially and at home. Honey contains various enzymes and sugar types, including fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose, as well as B vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. 

As the major component of honey is fructose, the chemical formula most commonly used to describe it is C6H12O6

What is the chemical composition of maple syrup?

Made from boiling down the sap of the maple tree, maple syrup is a sweet and delicious natural sweetener that is a mixture of natural sugars, water and minerals. Some maple syrups will also have trace amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, iron, zinc and copper. As maple syrup has several different elements, it uses several different chemical formulas in its composition, including:- 

Sucrose C12H22O11 

Glucose C6H12O6 

Fructose C6H12O6 and 

Oligosaccharides C37H62N2O29 

What is the chemical composition of stevia?

Popular as a low-calorie sweetener, Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant. Much sweeter in taste than table sugar, stevia contains the natural glycosides stevioside and rebaudioside that help give these natural extracts their sweet flavour. The chemical formula for these two major ingredients of stevia is as follows:-

Stevioside C38H60O18

Rebudioside C44H70O23

Stevia Powder C44H70O23 

What is the chemical composition of erythritol?

Found naturally in certain fruits, erythritol is a low-calorie sweetener that’s technically a sugar alcohol. Powdered erythritol added to commercial foods is more likely to be made in an industrial process than extracted from the fruits containing this sugar alcohol. The formula for erythritol is as follows:-

Erythritol C4H10O4

What is the chemical composition of xylitol?

Another type of sugar alcohol – xylitol, has a similar level of sweetness to table sugar. Made from a chemical catalytic process, the crystalline form of this sweetener looks, feels and tastes very similar to table sugar. Xylitol is used in many sugar-free and low-calorie foods. The formula for erythritol is as follows:-

Erythritol C5H12O5



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