Artificial Sweetener Review: Sucralose
As you consider replacing the sugar in your diet with other alternatives, sucralose will likely come up as an option. Consider its merits and drawbacks as you clean up your diet and prioritize your health.
What Is Sucralose?
Sucralose is a synthetic sweetener used in place of sugar. Sucralose is unique among artificial sweeteners because it is derived from real sugar (sucrose). In a lab, sugar is taken and its chemical structure is altered (by chlorination), creating a substance that is 600 times sweeter than table sugar.
While sucralose was first patented in 1976, it was first approved by the FDA in the late 90s and has been extensively studied by various food reviews. Sucralose isn’t digested by the body, making it noncaloric. However, in many available sugar substitutes containing sucralose, it is combined with other sweeteners or bulking agents that do contain calories and carbohydrates, so be careful to read the nutrition info.
The ADI (acceptable daily intake according to the FDA) for sucralose is 5 mg per kg of body weight per day.
- For example, a person weighing 150 lbs (68 kg) could have 340 mg (.34 grams) of sucralose per day before hitting this limit
- For reference, a packet of Splenda contains 12 mg of sucralose, plus other fillers (totaling about 3 calories and 1 gram of carbs)
Common Uses for Sucralose
Sucralose is commonly used for sweetening foods such as:
- Canned fruits
- Table sweetener packets
- Coffee pods
- Protein and breakfast bars
- Chewing gum
- Frozen dairy desserts
Pros and Cons of Sucralose
As with all sweeteners, sucralose comes with pros and cons. Examples of these include:
- Pro: It is calorie free and therefore doesn’t contribute to weight gain.
- Con: It is typically mixed with bulking agents (like dextrose) that do contain calories and sugars, so these available sweeteners are missing some of the purported benefits of pure sucralose.
- Pro: It is shelf-stable and can withstand higher temperatures (up to 119 degrees C or 246 degrees F), making it a good option for certain cooked foods and baked goods. It also easily dissolves in liquids, making it good for mixing into drinks.
- Con: It isn’t ideal for all cooking and baking, however, since it does begin to decompose at very high temperatures.
- Pro: It is deemed safe for consumption by the FDA. It is also considered safe for children, pregnant people, and diabetics.
- Con: Because pure sucralose is so sweet, sweeteners that you can purchase typically contain many different fillers and additives that could oppose your health and nutrition goals.
- Pro: It contains no sugar, so it doesn’t contribute to cavities or tooth decay.
- Con: Sucralose doesn’t attract moisture in the same way as sugar, so using it as a home substitute can lead to drier baked goods.
- Pro: It has a glycemic index of zero and is safe for people with diabetes to consume without worrying about blood sugar changes (although there is some recent research that may suggest a link between sucralose and insulin).
- Con: It may upset the microbe balance in your gut, leading to inflammation, digestion problems, or other microbiome and health concerns.
- Pro: Unlike many artificial sweeteners, sucralose doesn’t typically have a bitter aftertaste (since it is made from real sugar).
- Con: Since sucralose is so sweet, small amounts of it can be substituted for larger amounts of sugar, making some calculation necessary when cooking or baking.
Additional Information about Sucralose
Since sucralose isn’t metabolized by the body, it is instead passed through the system and excreted in the urine. It is commonly found in yellow packets when used as a table sweetener (blue is generally for aspartame and pink is for saccharin).