Sugar substitutes, also referred to as artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners, are now found in a variety of food products and beverages. For years, there has been buzz around the benefits and adverse health effects of sugar alternatives like aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet N’ Low), and sucralose (Splenda).
Let’s zoom in on one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners, sucralose (Splenda). Sucralose is made from sugar and is chemically altered to be 600x sweeter than sugar with very few calories. Splenda has gained popularity because you can cook with it and it has less of an aftertaste compared to many of its competitors.
The effects of sucralose on our bodies, particularly related to blood sugar and weight management, are constantly evolving. The artificial sweetener may also impact the bacteria in our gut (our microbiome). So, here’s what we know thus far.
In short, we still have much to learn.
It seems that consumption of sucralose (Splenda), does not bare significant risks to our health. That said, questions also remain about its benefit, particularly as a weight loss strategy. Since foods containing artificial sweeteners may also replace healthier options, it may be best to limit intake when possible.
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By Rachel Sentchuk, MGH Dietetic Intern