What’s really in Splenda, Equal, and Sweet ’n Low?

Sweeteners are used in almost everything we consume – from coffee to food to dressings and sauces to chewing gum. You name it; it probably has some type of sweetener. There are two types of sweeteners: nutritive and non-nutritive. Nutritive sweeteners (i.e. fructose, sucrose, and sugar alcohols) are absorbed by the body and provide energy. Non-nutritive sweeteners are not absorbed by the body and therefore do not provide energy. The most popular non-nutritive sweeteners are saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. My clients often ask me which sweeteners are best. I always recommend choosing on taste, as the dietary differences are minute. Saccharin
  • Commonly known as: Sweet N Low, Sweet Twin, Necta Sweet
  • Approved by the FDA as a beverage sweetener
  • Approved by the FDA as a tabletop sweetener (with specific maximum allowable amounts)
  • 200 – 700 times sweeter than sucrose
  • Noncarcinogenic and produces no glycemic response
  • heat-stable
  • In 1977 the FDA banned saccharin because it was considered carcinogenic in rats. In the year 2000 it was removed from the list of potential carcinogens.
Aspartame
  • Commonly known as: Equal, NutraSweet, Sugar Twin (blue box)
  • Approved by the FDA as a general purpose sweetener
  • 160 – 220 times sweeter than sucrose
  • Noncarcinogenic and produces limited glycemic response
  • not heat-stable
  • A 130 lb person can consume 2950 mg/day
  • Each packet has 35-40 mg, 12 oz diet soda has 225 mg, 8 oz yogurt has 80 mg, 8 oz drink made from powder has 100 mg, and ¾ sweetened cereal has up to 32 mg.
Sucralose
  • Commonly known as: Splenda
  • Approved by the FDA in 1998 as a general purpose sweetener
  • 600 times sweeter than sucrose
  • noncarcinogenic and produces no glycemic response
  • heat-stable
  • Made from sugar, but not absorbed by the body

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