We’ve all heard about the negative things that excessive sugar can do to our bodies. Among them is weight gain. It is for this reason that a number of sugar alternatives have been created in recent years.
Today, we tackle one of those sweet substitutes. And compared it with the real deal. Splenda vs. sugar, which is better for you?
If you drink coffee and don’t use regular white sugar, then chances are you use something Splenda or Equal to give you that sweet flavor.
Even if you don’t use them in your coffee, you’ve probably had something that used one of these artificial sweeteners. That’s because they’re now being used prevalently in commercial products, including some sodas.
Splenda vs. Sugar
Most of us know that Splenda, along with many other sugar substitutes, are popular because of two things:
- They often have much lower calories. Sometimes zero calories.
- They are designed not to spike our blood glucose like sugar does. Many only cause minor increases in blood sugar.
The two factors above are the biggest reasons these sugar alternatives are very popular. Everyone is more conscious nowadays.
And, no one wants to gain weight.
In fact, it’s the opposite, everyone wants to lose weight. Or, maintain a good weight level.
We’re also more aware about the negative effects of diabetes. And how spikes in our blood sugar from food and drinks can harm our health in the near future as well as the long term.
Differences Between Splenda and Sugar
In this section, we break down the two items. We explain what each is, and how they differ from one another.
What is Sugar?
When tackling the issue of sugar, we’re concerned with its sweet component. And for that we turn to sucrose.
When it comes to sugar, there are a few options available for use in food.
Sucrose is the most commonly used simple sugar. And, it is almost exclusively derived from the sugar beet or sugarcane plant.
It is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose. So sucrose is actually a combination of the two sugar compounds.
Due to the strict climatic conditions required to grow both plants, countries such as Brazil and India have emerged as the top exporters of refined sucrose.
- Granulated sucrose is most often used in household cooking.
- Brown sucrose, or brown sugar, is also commonly used in baking and home cooking.
But because brown sugar is processed slightly less than its white counterpart, it has a small amount of molasses is left over. So, as a result, brown sugar has a stronger taste and darker color.
So how does sucrose affect us?
Sucrose stimulates the dopamine receptors in our brains. This process creates a sense of pleasure. This is what gives us that satisfying feeling when we eat something sweet like cake, ice cream or soda.
Because humans are naturally attracted to pleasurable situations, we keep coming back for more of that taste. This causes our addiction to sucrose. And, as we’ve seen, it has had severe health consequences.
Individuals suffering from insulin issues are advised to avoid sugary foods. The reason for this is to prevent high sugar levels from damaging organs.
Sucrose also has a reputation for rotting teeth and causing gum disease as well. In addition, significant weight gain and unhealthy skin have also been associated with the overconsumption of sucrose.
Understanding Glucose and Fructose
As mentioned earlier, sucrose, or simple sugar, is the most common type of sugar we see and consume. It is also a combination of fructose and glucose.
To understand how it affects us, we go deeper, and explore both fructose and glucose.
Fruits and many types of plants contain both fructose and glucose.
Glucose is the product of photosynthesis. And, it is used to produce energy in plant cells. This is what they need to drive their growth.
When it comes to carbohydrates, glucose is almost always present. Glucose is the main antagonist in improper blood sugar level regulation associated with diabetes.
In short, it is glucose that causes a lot of the health issues related to blood sugar spikes and diabetes.
Fructose meanwhile, generally occurs alongside glucose.
It has been labeled as a healthier form of sugar. The reason for this is because it is less complex and easier for the body to digest.
Unlike sucrose, fructose is absorbed directly into the bloodstream without the need for insulin. Thus, it is able to give us a quicker boost of energy than what’s offered by sucrose.
A good thing to note between these 2 sugar compounds is that over consumption of fructose has been shown to cause minimal amounts of weight gain when compared to sucrose.
What is Splenda?
Splenda, on the other hand, is a low-calorie artificial sweetener.
So, unlike sugar, which is derived from natural resources, Splenda is made in the lab and processing plants.
It primarily made of sucralose. And, it has become the most popular sugar substitute on the market. This is due to its potent sweetness and “zero calorie” classification in the United States.
Since the body is unable to digest sucralose, this means it leaves the body as waste. During this process it passes in and out of our system without changing its chemical structure and offering no nutritional energy.
As mentioned, sucralose is not created in nature but is the result of chlorinating sucrose.
When it comes to whether you should use it or not, there have been mixed results on the safety of ingesting sucralose. In addition, there have been a number of environmental concerns raised.
In general, sucralose is recognized as a safe alternative to sugar. And, it delivers a good amount of sweetness. But several studies have indicated a link to DNA damage in lab animals.
At extraordinarily high levels of intake, there does seem to be a risk of negative health effects. Numerous studies have shown that sucralose is difficult to remove with standard water treatment procedures.
While there are no known environmental risks associated with sucralose, it can produce pollutants when burned.