Difference Between Natural and Artificial Sweeteners

Main Difference – Natural vs Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar substitutes are mainly divided into two groups: natural and artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners are mainly used as a main ingredient in the production of confectionery products. Natural sweeteners are mainly derived from different animal or plant sources. For example, honey is a natural sweetener that is made by bees using nectar from flowers. In contrast, artificial sweeteners are mainly derived from synthetic chemicals during industrial processing. This is the key difference between natural and artificial sweeteners. Although both natural and artificial sweeteners are used for the same applications, they have different sensory and nutritional properties as well as health impacts.Difference Between Natural and Artificial Sweeteners-infographic

What are Natural Sweeteners

Natural sugars are mainly extracted from animal or plant sources, and they are derived as a result of a natural process such as photosynthesis in a plant. These sugar substitutes are low in calories, low in fructose and taste very sweet. Thus, natural sweeteners are considered as a good sugar substitute because they have lesser-to-no calories compared to that of refined sugars often used in cooking and other beverages. However, these natural sweeteners acquire their sweet taste from glucose and fructose. They are also associated with positive health outcomes compared to artificial sweeteners.Difference Between Natural and Artificial Sweeteners

What are Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar substitutes are artificially synthesized compounds that give a sweet taste similar to sugar. But they contain considerably less food energy. Excess consumption of artificial sweeteners is associated with detrimental health effects. Artificial sweeteners have been associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, macular degeneration, and tooth decay. Thus, different food regulation bodies’ including EU Food Additive and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulate artificial sweeteners as food additives.

Main Difference - Natural vs Artificial Sweeteners

Difference Between Natural and Artificial Sweeteners

Natural and artificial sweeteners may have different sensory properties, nutrients, and health effects. These differences may include,

Health Benefits and Risks

Natural sweeteners: Natural sweeteners are associated with more health benefits compared to artificial sweeteners. For example, Stevia.

Stevia has no calories or carbohydrates. Researchers have also shown that stevia can lower LDL cholesterol; prevent type 2 diabetes as it increases insulin sensitivity thus reducing blood glucose synthesis after a meal. Another research study also demonstrated that stevia could sharpen the memory and reduce brain oxidative damage. But it has some side effects as well; it can act as a contraceptive and may cause reproductive problems and allergic reactions.

Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners are associated with more negative health benefits compared to natural sweeteners. Some artificial sweeteners are forbidden in some selected countries because of their carcinogenic properties. Some studies also demonstrate that artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, etc. lead to birth defects, increased male infertility by interfering with sperm production, cancer, tooth decay and weight gain.


Natural sweeteners: Agave nectar, Date sugar, Honey, Maple syrup, Molasses, Coconut Nectar, sorbitol, and xylitol which are extracted in berries, fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms are examples of natural sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners: Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One), Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), Neotame, Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low), Sucralose (Splenda), Advantame are examples of artificial sweeteners.

Predominant sweet taste compounds

Natural sweeteners: Fructose and sugar alcohols are the main sweet taste compounds.

Artificial sweeteners:  Amino acids, peptides, and sugar alcohols are the main sweet taste compounds.


Natural sweeteners are used for following applications;

  • To bake (main use)
  • To spread on bread or biscuits
  • To sweeten various beverages such as tea
  • To preserve meat

Artificial sweeteners are used for following applications;

  • To sprinkle on foods
  • To sweeten hot drinks such as tea and coffee
  • To backed products such as baked goods, confectionery, and toffees (Diet products or sugar-free alternative products)
  • To add sweetness and texture to cooked products
  • To produce icing sugar that is used for dusting foods and in baking and confectionery


Natural sweeteners: Natural sweeteners are more expensive than artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners are cheaper than natural sweeteners.


Adas, M. (2001). Agricultural and Pastoral Societies in Ancient and Classical History. Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-832-0. Page 311.

Carbohydrate quantity and quality and risk of type 2 diabetes in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition–Netherlands (EPIC-NL) study”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 92, 905–911.

Kántor, Z., Pitsi, G. and Thoen, J. (1999). Glass Transition Temperature of Honey as a Function of Water Content As Determined by Differential Scanning Calorimetry. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 47 (6): 2327–2330

Mattes RD, Popkin BM (2009). Nonnutritive sweetener consumption in humans: effects on appetite and food intake and their putative mechanisms. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89 (1): 1–14.

Welsh JA, Sharma A, Cunningham SA, Vos MB (2011). Consumption of Added Sugars and Indicators of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among US Adolescents. Circulation 123 (3): 249–57.

Image Courtesy:

“Honey-benefits”By Lama Raheem – Own work via  

“Assugrin f3453504″ By Rama – Own work  via  

About the Author: Geesha

Geesha has a BSc (Hons) degree in Food Science and Technology and Master's degree in Food and Nutrition. She is currently reading for her PhD in Food science and technology. Sharing what she learned is a passion of hers and enjoys writing.

Related pages

what is the difference between a cpap and a bipapelevator and lift differencedifference between condominium and apartmentwhat are the function of centriolesunicameral legislature definefennel and cumin seedsdifference between a llama and an alpacaapical meristem functionnitrite vs nitratewhale dolphin differenceunisexual and bisexual flowersuses of glacial acetic acidhow to find the perimeter of a decagonaccounting rate of return calculationwhat is the difference between monocot and dicot rootswhat is the difference between sour and bitter3 types of heterogeneous mixtureswhat is the difference between totipotent and pluripotent stem cellstransnational firmspimple vs zitenunciate meaningironic satirespell estheticwhat is the difference between ethnicity and nationalitywhat is an attributive adjectiveproteins are polymers constructed from monomersexamples of homologous seriesdifference between sugar in dna and rnadifference between fungi and algaedifference between rice and couscoustypes of delusions and hallucinationsthe difference between practice and practisemelanin precursordifference between hemoglobin and myoglobincyst polypsmoothening or rebondingthe rutherford gold foil experimentfinite and nonfinite verbs examplesinsulator vs conductordistinguish between renewable and nonrenewable energypolyunsaturated vs monounsaturatedthe purpose of alliterationexamples of homophones and homonymscytosol vs cytoplasmdifference between compliment and complementescapist literatureantithetical defdictionary bemusedwhat are consonants exampleswhat is the difference between cougars and mountain lionsbulimia and anorexia differenceswhat is meant by the term biodegradablepraline trufflerelative clause defining and non definingepicotyl functionendoplasmic reticulum smooth functiondifference between gymnosperms and angiospermspleuritic pain definitionlabrador vs goldendifference between saturated hydrocarbons and unsaturated hydrocarbonshow does a market economy differ from a command economyabstract noun of difficultpolar and nonpolar definitionchemotrophic organismsamino acids essential and nonessentialdifferentiate saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbonsis skinny an adjectiveglucose and fructose structuresschizoaffective disorder and schizophreniabudgetary restraintsvalanciesaldose sugarswhat is the difference between a bulldog and a pitbulloxyriboseomnivore carnivorerolex ticking sounddefinition of retroviruschemotrophic organismsagoraphobia social phobia