While a life without the occasional cupcake is no life at all, the health risks associated with high levels of frequent sugar consumption have been extensively documented. From obesity and heart health to sluggishness and acne-prone skin, sugar is widely regarded as doing more harm than good. But what’s the alternative?
One of the most widely known and readily available sugar substitutes is sucralose. But the question remains: What is sucralose, exactly? To help you stick to your diet and wellness goals without missing a beat, we’ve put together all the intel you need to navigate this common ingredient and make the best decisions for your health.
Keep reading to learn what sucralose is made of, where it’s found, and why it matters.
What is Sucralose?
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that’s designed to be used in place of sugar. The most common iteration of sucralose is the product known as Splenda. Because it’s comprised of chemicals that can’t be broken down and digested by the body (the U.S. National Library of Medicine is a great place to learn more about this), it's technically considered to be non-caloric. It’s also carbohydrate-free, making it a favored choice for those with weight loss goals.
If zero calories and zero carbs sound too good to be true—especially in contrast to the empty-calorie reputation of sugar—you're right. That same quality of being indigestible may have the potential to lead to other problems. According to research conducted earlier this year, “A study on sucralose and the GI microbiome found that sucralose altered the gut microbiome by decreasing beneficial bacteria by up to 50%. Additionally, they found that 12 weeks after the study the beneficial bacteria in the GI tract had not recovered. Which means that even after sucralose was no longer being consumed the GI tract was still negatively affected.”
It’s important to point out that sucralose is fully FDA-approved, and has passed a gamut of health and safety standards. According to the IFIC Foundation, “Experts from a wide range of scientific backgrounds have reviewed these studies and concluded that there are no harmful effects from consuming sucralose, even in people consuming the highest amounts.”
Ultimately, there’s little doubt that sucralose provides an appealing alternative for those seeking a low-sugar, low-carb, low-calorie diet. Other possible benefits include lower risk of tooth decay than in high-sugar diets and a far greater degree of sweetness than traditional sugar. But if you’re looking for a sweetener that’s 100% natural and not chemically derived, sucralose might not be right for you.
Up next, keep reading to calm your sugar cravings with this healthy pumpkin muffin recipe.