I'd like to know if Sweet 'N Low or other sugar substitutes can be used in recipes instead of sugar. —E.K., Claxton, Georgia
Not only does sugar impart sweet flavor to foods, but it also plays an important role in baked goods, affecting the volume, texture and browning of foods as they bake. There are some foods in which no-calorie sweeteners (such as Equal and Sweet ‘N Low) work well. For example, they’re fine for sweetening drinks, like smoothies, or other foods that contain a fair amount of liquid, like puddings and pie fillings. However, most artificial sweeteners do not maintain their sweetness at high temperatures and actually can take on a bitter taste. In our Test Kitchen, we have found that generally no-calorie sweeteners are not a good substitute for sugar in baked goods. Of course, we’ll keep experimenting with new products as they become available. It used to be that people with diabetes were told to avoid sugar altogether because it was thought to cause a greater rise in blood glucose than other foods. Further research has shown that this is not true. But the notion that table sugar is the culprit in out-of-control diabetes is a difficult one to dispel. Based on recent nutrition recommendations and guidelines from the American Diabetes Association, there seems to be no reason to avoid all foods with sugar. Instead, diabetics should focus on the amount of carbohydrates they eat, because all carbohydrates, not just table sugar, can cause a rise in blood glucose. That’s why you’ll find the total grams of carbohydrate (and not just sugar specifically) listed in the nutritional analysis in our recipes.