To put it bluntly, Westerners are addicted to sugar. People in America eat way too many sweets. On top of this, about 70% of the foods in your grocery store have added sugar — including some that would surprise you. The result? Problems that range from weight gain to life-threatening illness.1
Scientists and food companies have tried to solve the issue by creating various sugar substitutes, which seemed like a good solution. Sure enough, by 2010, about 20% of the U.S. population aged 2 or older was drinking at least one diet drink on any given day.2
One of the most popular sugar replacements is sucralose (aka Splenda). In theory, sucralose should be the healthier choice — it’s sweeter and lower in calories than sugar.
However, there has been some scientific pushback regarding the safety of sucralose and the potential for negative side effects.
So, is sucralose your sweetness solution, or the nasty gateway to a bigger issue?
What Is Sucralose?
Believe it or not, sucralose is actually made from sugar. The sugar undergoes a complex, multi-step chemical process. A bit ironic, isn’t it? But the end result is a sweetener that has the same taste as sugar, only it’s calorie-free.3 Of course, artificial sweeteners are popular for home use. But they’re also often added to commercially-produced foods like:
- Processed foods
- Baked goods
- Soft drinks
- Powdered drink mixes
- Canned foods
- Jams and jellies
- Dairy products
Furthermore, artificial sweeteners are generally advertised as low-calorie alternatives. The thinking is it would help with weight loss: by swapping out sugar, you would reduce your calorie intake. And fewer calories means less energy you have to burn.
Many people with glucose control issues also use sugar substitutes. That is because many artificial sweeteners are not carbohydrates. As a result, they don’t generally raise blood sugar levels.4
However, it’s important to differentiate between something that’s not hurting you and something that’s actually helping you. Some people think they can switch from sugar to sucralose and do nothing else. This won’t help you lose weight or improve your health. You still need to eat a balanced diet, combined with regular exercise.
The Science Behind Sucralose
Many people are concerned that sucralose may contribute to serious health risks and affect the balance of your gut microflora.5
In fact, there’s an animal study that shows it destroys 50 percent of good gut flora.
However, while there may not be a proven immediate danger when it comes to sucralose, there are some negative aspects to consider.
For example, one study showed that sucralose could trigger migraines in certain people.6
In another study, sucralose was given to severely obese participants who did not normally consume any artificial sweeteners. Blood sugar levels rose by 14% in those receiving sucralose, and their insulin levels increased by 20%.7
Natural vs Artificial Sweeteners
Sucralose is considered a “high-intensity” sweetener, due to the fact that it is 600 times sweeter than sugar. But do you really want your food to be that sweet? Likely, you don’t. So, here are a few ways to naturally sweeten your food that you can easily incorporate into your meals.
Stevia is actually an herb. In fact, it’s been used as a sweet snack and tribal remedy in its native South America for more than 1,000 years. Stevia also has a leg up on sucralose when it comes to regulating glucose. For example, one study showed that having stevia before a meal actually reduced blood glucose and insulin levels.8 Studies have also shown that stevia may be able to reduce blood pressure when taken as a supplement. And if you’re worried about calories, don’t be — stevia is another no-calorie solution.9
One major issue with sucralose is that while it has no calories, it also has no other nutrients. This means it falls short in comparison to nutrient-packed foods like the date. One key nutritional component of dates is potassium — which helps regulate blood pressure and is linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind).10
While all berries are packed with nutrients, blueberries are some of the easiest to use when it comes to sweetening your drinks and meals. Each cup of blueberries packs plenty of vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, and manganese.11 And they have the highest antioxidant content of all commonly eaten fruits and vegetables. This helps mitigate the damage done to your cells by free radical molecules. And, as you may or may not know, free radical damage is linked to all kinds of health issues.12
Sucralose In Review
At first glance, sucralose seems like an option to get all the sweetness you crave without racking up calories. But there’s an issue with sucralose — it doesn’t necessarily hurt you, but it does absolutely nothing for you.
Your best option is always going to be to seek out other foods with a natural sweetness to enhance your meals. Not only do they offer the same taste, but these superfoods provide other health benefits.
So, is sucralose bad for you? Maybe, maybe not. But that doesn’t mean you have to use it. There are better options out there… natural ones.
Learn More About Sugars and Sweeteners:
Sweetened to Death: Exposing Sugar for What It Truly Is
Artificial Sweeteners: The Dark Truth
So, You’ve Eaten Too Much Sugar. Here’s How To Reset