Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweetener Resources

Food and Nutrition Information Center

Nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners enhance the flavor and/or texture of food. Nutritive sweeteners provide the body with calories, while nonnutritive sweeteners are very low in calories or contain no calories at all. They can both be added to food and beverages.

General Resources

The following resources below provide general information about both types of sweeteners.

Nutritive Sweeteners

Nutritive sweeteners, also known as caloric sweeteners or sugars, provide energy in the form of carbohydrates.

Some sugars are found naturally in foods. For example, fructose is found in fresh fruits. By eating the whole fruit, you not only consume fructose, but you feed your body fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that you do not get from sugar alone.

Many of the sugars in our diet come from "added sugars" - sugars added to food prior to consumption or during preparation or processing. Added sugars are used to enhance the flavor and texture of foods and to increase shelf-life. Examples of added sugars include sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Learn more about sugar and other common nutritive sweeteners.

Agave

Fructose

High-fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

Honey

To learn how added sugars can fit into your diet, see MyPlate.

Nonnutritive Sweeteners

Nonnutritive sweeteners are zero- or low-calorie alternatives to nutritive sweeteners, such as table sugar. These sweeteners can be added to both hot and cold beverages and some can be used for baking. Nonnutritive sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar so only small amounts are needed. They provide fewer calories per gram than sugar because they are not completely absorbed by your digestive system. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the following nonnutritive sweeteners: acesulfame-K, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose and stevia.

Aspartame

Stevia

Sucralose