The Truth Behind Splenda

Recently, rumors declared Splenda unfit for human consumption. Truth, or just a myth?

For years, Splenda has been the number one choice of diabetics and calorie conscious consumers. With the headline “made from sugar,” the company has created an image of a natural artificial sweetener with no calories.

Recently, though, articles surfaced about Splenda health dangers. For those of us looking for healthy sugar substitutes, this presents a major worry.

Rumors

The latest concerns revolve around Splenda’s origins. Splenda, the brand name for sucralose, comes from sugar molecules chemically bonded to chlorine atoms. This, detractors suggest, means that Splenda is structurally related to DDT and other pesticides, which can lead to serious health problems.

Truth

It’s completely true that Splenda comes from linking chlorine molecules to sugar molecules. When we think of chlorine, we tend to think of swimming pools, and naturally this doesn’t seem like a good chemical to dump into our bodies.

The thing is, though, that in small amounts, chlorine occurs naturally in many different foods and beverages. Furthermore, many communities add small amounts of chlorine to their drinking water to purify it. Chlorine makes Splenda a heat stable artificial sweetener (so you can bake with it) and prevents your body from metabolizing sugar atoms.

This chlorine content, incidentally, is the only thing Splenda has in common with DDT or any other insecticide.

Verdict

Before buying into any rumor, it’s a good idea to look at the sources. There is one sugar substitute study from Duke University arguing that Splenda may not be as safe as we generally believe, and there is a host of anecdotal evidence online from people who claim to have had allergic reactions or health problems from using sugar substitutes.

One of the main forces behind the anti-Splenda campaign, however, is the sugar industry. However, they recently settled in a lawsuit Splenda launched against it for slander. Obviously, this is not impartial information: Splenda seriously hurts sugar sales.

Furthermore, there are many medical professionals and organizations (including Diabetes Associations and the FDA) who maintain that Splenda is perfectly safe. As they point out, the Internet is rife with rumors about many products, and artificial sweetener lends itself particularly well to that sort of thing since it’s necessarily a chemical.

With that in mind, make your own decisions about whether or not you’re comfortable using Splenda. Just make sure you are well-informed regarding both sides of the issue.