Like it or not, sugar is bad for you. It rots your teeth, turns to fat around your middle, and puts you at risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. A sweet tooth can be mighty difficult to ignore. Therefore, a lot of effort has gone into researching and developing artificial sweeteners that will please the taste buds without the excess calories. Sucralose is one such artificial sweetener. Before reaching for that little yellow packet, read on to learn just what sucralose is and why you may want to take a pass on using it to sweeten your foods.
8. What Is Sucralose?
Sucralose also goes by the brand name Splenda. It is made from table sugar molecules that have been altered to yield a highly sweet agent that contains no calories or carbohydrates. While this sweetener has zero calories, it also has no nutritional value. Furthermore, your body does not break down sucralose and it mainly passes through your body intact. Since sucralose is 600 times sweeter than table sugar, a smaller amount is required when using it as a sugar substitute in recipes.
7. Where You May Find It
Sucralose is a popular sugar substitute found in many food products. Diet sodas, sugarless gum, powdered beverage mixes, and frozen desserts may contain sucralose. It should not come as a surprise that soft drinks and gum must contain some type of sweetener. However, sometimes sucralose pops up in unexpected places. For example, Ocean Spray’s Reduced Sugar Craisins Dried Cranberries contain both cane sugar and sucralose. When purchasing products that claim to have “no added sugar”, check the label. The manufacturer may have added sucralose or another artificial sweetener in place of or in addition to cane sugar.
6. It May Contribute to Diabetes Risk
Scientists may have developed artificial sweeteners in an effort to obtain sweetness without contributing to the risk of diabetes. However, some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may actually cause a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Nature reports that artificial sweeteners like sucralose may cause glucose intolerance due to effects on the bacteria of your gut. Furthermore, individuals may actually consume excess calories when they eat excessive amounts of foods they perceive as being calorie-free. Consuming extra calories can lead to obesity and an increased risk of diabetes.
5. It May Cause Weight Gain
Regardless of whether you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, consuming artificial sweeteners like sucralose may cause weight gain. Again, you may be lulled into a false sense of security when digging into a bag of “sugar-free” pre-packaged cookies. Just because a treat is sweetened with sucralose doesn’t mean it won’t contain other carbohydrates that will gather around your middle. A better choice would be to reach for a handful of naturally sweet fresh fruit to satisfy your hankering. A piece of fruit supplies a sweet taste while also providing vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
4. It May Increase the Risk of IBS
Gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and Crohn’s disease may be linked to the use of sucralose. A study in Frontiers in Physiology notes that sucralose has an effect on the bacteria that line the gut. These changes in the makeup of the gut bacteria can cause intestinal inflammation. Another study published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases indicates that sucralose can cause an inflammation of the small intestine that resembles Crohn’s disease. If you already suffer from Crohn’s disease, consuming sucralose may aggravate your symptoms.
3. It May Cause Leaky Gut
As if irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and colitis weren’t bad enough, sucralose can also trigger leaky gut. Harvard Health describes leaky gut as a condition in which the lining of your gut has small cracks or openings. These cracks allow liquids from your digestive tract to leak through the wall of the gut into other tissues. Avoiding processed foods and artificial or chemical food additives may help you maintain good gut health. Eating fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and fiber-rich whole grains can keep your intestinal tract strong and healthy.
2. It May Become Toxic When Heated
Sucralose is commonly used in baked goods. However, a study in Food Chemistry suggests that sucralose may release environmental toxins called chloropropanols in certain situations when heated. A Scientific Reports study indicates that sucralose is unstable at high temperatures and may release chlorinated hydrocarbons. If you do choose to use sucralose to sweeten your foods, you may want to at least avoid baking with it at high temperatures.
The risks that accompany the use of sucralose may also accompany the use of other artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or saccharin. Sugar alcohols such as xylitol or mannitol do contain carbohydrates. However, they are lower in calories than table sugar. Natural sweeteners like stevia, honey, and maple syrup do contain natural sugars. However, they may also contain traces of vitamins and minerals. No matter which type of sweetener you choose, the key is to limit yourself to small quantities.