any of various natural and artificial substances that provide a sweet taste in food and beverages. In addition to their sweetening power, they may be used for such processes as food preservation, fermentation (in brewing and wine making), baking (where they contribute to texture, tenderization, and leavening), and food browning and carmelization. Natural sweeteners may be both nutritive and flavorable and thus popular both as food and flavouring. However, because common sugar and other nutritive sweeteners such as honey and corn syrup are associated with health problems (such as obesity and tooth decay) or are even a threat to life (for diabetics), there have been efforts since the 19th century to produce nonnutritive sweeteners that are not subject to metabolism and contain little or no caloric value. Nonnutritive sweeteners, which may be either artificial (synthetic) or derived from plants, include such compounds as saccharin, aspartame, cyclamates, and thaumatin.
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