Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.

We have all heard about the dangers of Aspartame, but what about Sucralose?The following is part of an Organic Living Journey Guest Post Series now written by Mariana who has a mother’s heart and scientist’s brain.

Last week we began our journey through sugar-alternatives with aspartame. Today, we’re moving on to the most popular artificial sweetener, Splenda and sucralose. Unlike aspartame, sucralose is not a byproduct of E. coli – yay! So let’s take a look at the facts and learn some more about this little sweetener.

What is Splenda?

-Splenda is an artificial, sucralose-based sweetener|

-Splenda is actually 95% dextrose and maltodextrin and only 5% sucralose. Why? The dextrose and maltodextrin are used for bulk and volume, since pure sucralose is 600x sweeter than sugar.

-To put that into perspective, 1/8 teaspoon of 100% pure, uncut sucralose is equivalent to 1.5 cups of sugar.

-The bulking agents, dextrose and maltodextrin, are mildly sweet and add calories and carbs.

-Maltodextrin is derived from starch and is usually corn-based but may also be derived from wheat. It is processed as glucose in the body.

-Dextrose is a simple sugar and another form of glucose. Food manufacturers use dextrose in place of sugar, especially in candies. It’s the primary ingredient in Pixy Stix.

-Splenda is available in packets and in bulk.

-Thanks to the bulking agents, Splenda exchanges 1:1 for sugar.

-Sucralose is not calorie-free. Technically, sucralose is still a sugar and has calories. However, it doesn’t occur naturally in nature, therefore, the human body isn’t programmed to process it.

What is sucralose?

Chemically speaking, sucralose is: 1,6-dichloro-1, 6-dideoxy-BETA-D-fructofuranosyl-4-chloro-4-deoxy-alpha-D-galactopyranoside – AKA “fructo-galactose” (part fructose, part glucose – much like sucrose), a compound that does not exist in nature. It was discovered in 1976 and approved by the FDA in 1998. When Splenda first hit the shelves in the late 90’s, their slogan was “made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar.” So, is it? Yes, but it’s definitely NOT natural. Let’s take a look at the chemistry: (Disclaimer: Yes, you can totally skip this part if you don’t want to delve into the chemistry.)

  1. Sucrose (sugar) is tritylated with trityl chloride in the presence of dimethylformamide and 4-methylmorpholine, and the tritylated sucrose is then acetylated with acetic anhydride.

  2. The resulting sucrose molecule TRISPA is chlorinated with hydrogen chlorine in the presence of tolulene.

  3. The resulting 4-PAS is heated in the presence of methyl isobutyl ketone and acetic acid.

  4. The resulting 6-PAS is chlorinated with thionyl chloride in the presence of toluene and benzyltriethylammonium chloride.

  5. The resulting TOSPA is treated with methanol in the presence of sodium methoxide to produce sucralose. (Note- methanol is one of the questionable, toxic ingredients in aspartame)

– According to the Splenda International Patent A23L001-236 and PEP Review #90-1-4

The starting point is sugar (sucrose). The ending point is approximately 98% sucralose (according the FDA’s sucralose review), whose chemical composition looks very similar to sugar only with a few Chlorine (Cl) atoms replacing hydroxyl groups (OH). The presence of these chlorine atoms makes sucralose a chlorocarbon. The whole family of chlorocarbons is typically pretty toxic; other infamous chlorocarbons include PCB, carbon tetrachloride, and DDT.

So, if the final product is only 98% sucralose, what is the other 2%? That last, rogue 2% can include any of the chemicals from the production process or other byproducts. According to FDA labeling rules, that last 2% doesn’t have to be reported…even if it’s toxic or a known carcinogen. I’m sure that rule is there for a reason, but it doesn’t make me feel comfortable, as a consumer, knowing that manufacturers could be hiding just about anything in a food product without telling us. Is that just me? How do you feel about this little loophole?

After a few rounds of testing (including a whopping 36 humans over the course of three months), the FDA approved sucralose for use as a food additive. According to the FDA, about 10-30% of sucralose is absorbed by the body, and 2-12% of that accumulates in the body over time. This is bioaccumulation – the absorption and storage of toxins and synthetic chemicals from food, water, or air. These stored toxins hang out in your body’s fat stores, pretty much indefinitely, adding more and more with increased exposure. Looking at those numbers, there is a huge statistical difference between 10% and 30% absorption. So, what accounts for the difference? It depends on the person. Everyone’s biochemistry is unique and different, affecting how it processes and absorbs nutrients and chemicals. For this same reason, people will have varying degrees of sensitivity to every food and chemical out there, including sucralose.

Side Effects of Sucralose?

The FDA would not have approved sucralose if there was an overwhelming amount of evidence suggesting negative side effects or imminent peril, but that doesn’t mean side effects don’t happen. Although side effects are not common, these are the ones that have been documented in research studies:

-shrunken thymus glands
-enlarged liver
-enlarged kidneys
-atrophy of lymph follicles in spleen and thymus
-reduced growth rate
-increased cecal weight
-decreased red blood cell count
-hyperplasia of pelvis (thickened tissues, a precursor to cancer)
-pregnancy loss
-decreased birth weights, placental weights
-increased glycosylation of hemoglobin (long-term assessment of blood glucose levels)

Other side effects reported by consumers but not confirmed in research studies include: migraines, headaches, irregular heart beats, nervousness, anxiety, flushing, weight gain and skin rashes.

Recently, in April 2013, a study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that sucralose does affect the risk of developing diabetes. Researchers found that consuming sucralose was associated with higher blood sugar peaks and 20 percent higher insulin levels. Let that sink in for a minute. This tells us that sucralose is NOT passing through our bodies, unnoticed. Despite fructo-galactose’s alien existence, our bodies have found some way to process this molecule, and that process is affecting our blood sugar levels. I find this both fascinating and concerning.

This was a short-term research study. How does sucralose fair in a long-term study? No idea. The longest peer-reviewed sucralose study I could find lasted three months. I’m sure we’d all love to see more thorough research to confirm or deny sucralose’s safety.

Perspective

The purpose of choosing an artificial sweetener over sugar is to cut calories and protect your blood sugar levels. Chemically-speaking, sucralose should do that, but new research is suggesting that may not be the case. In fact, it may have the opposite effect. In addition, about 2-12% of this chemical is being stored in your body, accumulating over time. My concern is the lack of long-term studies. If this chemical, previously unknown to the human body, is bioaccumulating over time, I’d like to see some proof this won’t affect our health down the road. How do you feel about it?

If sucralose is a concern to you, get ready to start reading some labels and purging the pantry: sucralose is everywhere. I’ve seen it added to oatmeal, breath mints, yogurt, vitamins, hydration drinks, even products that already contain sugar! Why? It’s an easy way for products to shed calories and gain a sale. When you’re comparing instant oatmeal brands, you will probably compare calorie counts first. Equal serving size, similar cost, but a 40 calorie difference per serving? Check the ingredients list, and you’ll probably see sucralose near the end. Since it’s 600x sweeter than sugar, it only takes a tiny bit to kick up the sweetness and cut out some calories.

Next week, we will start looking for that silver lining. Let’s talk about some all-natural options for cutting sugar and calories. There are an overwhelming number of natural sugar alternatives (yay!), but it can be confusing (and sometimes a little deceiving) to figure out what you’re actually getting.

    • tori729

      So is this worse or better than sugar??

      • David Strong

        That all depends on what’s important to you. Sugar is cheaper, tastes better, but has more calories. Sucralose has significantly less calories, but sacrifices $, taste, and has the potential (though probably very slight) of causing serious health problems.
        For me the answer is easy. Why pay more for a sweetener for that doesn’t taste nearly as good and has the (slight) potential for serious health side effects?

    • Deana

      I personally prefer “Splenda” or similar sweeteners. My oldest daughter is a Type 1 Diabetic and it allows her to have good sweet tea without all the carbohydrates that comes with sugar. As with everything you use at your own risk and what affects one may not affect the other. I prefer it over the other artificial sweeteners and have had no issues using them over the last 7 years.

    • Me

      We love Splenda in this house. It might not be “healthy”. BUT, neither is organic sugar, seriously, just because it is organic doesn’t mean it is healthy. But, for people already diabetic this is a life saver. I used Splenda when I got Gestational diabetes. In this area of the south, tea, isn’t tea, unless it is sweet. I have an addiction, I’ll admit it. I gained no weight that pregnancy. And when I had “real” sugar (even the organic), it shot my blood sugar up so high I had trouble breathing, and the baby would go into distress. I got so scared to eat carby things or drink anything but water, the baby stopped growing. I used Splenda and continue to now that I don’t “have to”. Plus I don’t feel like brushing my teeth every 5 seconds as when I have sugar or the other artificial sweeteners. I know you say that the other 2 ingrediants add carbs. But, I disagree. I guarantee you get more carbs from breathing in at a cheesecake factory then drinking Splenda. I was worried about it and it never once raised my blood sugar even a smidge.

      IMHO you really need to weigh the good and bad with this one. Sometimes you just have to live a little.

    • lwhittaker

      I would love to hear about stevia.

    • Diva Jefferson

      What about high fructose corn syrup? Isn’t this much worse?

    • erindallison

      What about Sweet‘N Low (saccharin)? I thought you were going to discuss that? Love your posts. Keep them coming!

    • erindallison

      What about Sweet‘N Low (saccharin)? I thought you were going to discuss that? Love your posts. Keep them coming!

    • Leila

      Stevia, xylitol, and erythritol are my go-to’s for sweet. Much easier to digest and much less processed.

    • Leila

      Stevia, xylitol, and erythritol are my go-to’s for sweet. Much easier to digest and much less processed.

    • Toni

      Thanks again!

    • Toni

      Thanks again!

    • Jacob Wadsworth

      Great article. It has every important thing that people must know about Splenda and sucralose. My dad uses this but I have to inform him about its contents and side effects.

    • Cindy

      All those Splenda and sucralose supporters, your body, your decision…it tastes horrible to me and makes me gassy, crampy, headachy and grumpy. It has also been put, without my request, into my “sweet” tea or coffee and caused me to have to leave work (because it’s a base of burnt coffee or a flavored tea is the only sweet one they have it is sometimes hard to tell for sure until I have drank half of it). I also burn sugar like jet fuel so I actually can often FEEL when I need real sugar here and now! My problem is the huge number of products it is put on or into with nothing except buried in the ingredients list. This includes a sweet tea from a vending machine “naturally sweet”…couldn’t see the ingredients. I have thrown out or given away at least one product a month in this last year..including a coffee in a can that I drank for years and they did not noticeably change the packaging, but I was not feeling as good as I used to after drinking it and,,,,,nuts of all things!! Like the author said…even in oatmeal! I have seen things that have high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, rice wine (also sweet) etc AND sucralose! What the hay? For diabetics like my close friend who has avoided shots and can have cookies or cake etc. in limited fashion…I worry that this stuff may be worsening her diabetes while she thinks she is saving calories/sugar one place to have them somewhere else.