Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes, and their sweetness – relative to sucrose (table sugar) – is significantly higher (up to 4000 times sweeter, depending on type). They have very few or no calories, and no carbohydrates. They are to be differentiated from sugar-alcohols such as sorbitol, maltitol or xylitol, which have a much lower intensity.
In practice, artificial sweeteners are usually mixed with sugar-alcohols to make the sweetness of products more pleasant and to mask the often bitter aftertaste.
Artificial sweeteners are not without controversy with health authorities in different countries holding varying views. In the U.S., cyclamate, for example, is banned because of possible cancer risks, but it is allowed in the EU. There are studies that show that artificial sweeteners raise insulin levels because the body prepares for sugar intake when the taste buds register it as "sweet." If this “sweet” message is sent by an artificial sweetener instead of sugar, due to the precautionary insulin output, the blood sugar levels decrease and can lead to cravings. This effect is controversial in the scientific world and other studies have been unable to verify it's validity.
Frusano does not offer products with artificial sweeteners because of their controversial health effects and because artificial sweeteners are generally combined with sugar alcohols in most products.