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What Is Sucralose?

By Liz Thomas
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sucralose is an artificial sweetener used in place of sugar. It is much sweeter than many other artificial sweeteners, but is not easily absorbed by the human body. This chemical is not found in nature and is synthesized in manufacturing plants. It is normally used in beverage and food products as a replacement for sugar and other natural and artificial sweeteners.

Sucralose is made by adding chloride molecules to selective spots on a sucrose molecule. Hydroxyl groups consist of an oxygen and hydrogen molecule. Three chloride molecules are added. Acetylation and chlorination make the molecule replacement. The protection is removed from the selected hydroxyl groups, with the final molecule being sucralose.

The properties of sucralose are different from regular sugar and other sweeteners. Sucralose is 600 times as sweet as sucrose. It is three times sweeter than aspartame and two times sweeter than saccharin. This sweetener is stable under a range of pH's and heat. Unlike other artificial sweeteners, sucralose can be used for cooking and baking as it will not degrade.

This sugar replacement is an ingredient in many low or no-calorie products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of this product in foods in 1998. Products containing it are widely available in grocery stores and food outlets.

In its purest form, sucralose alone does not contain any calories. Some products containing it are mixed with fillers, including dextrose and maltodextrin. These fillers may contain some calories, though overall the calorie content is generally less than five calories per serving.

This molecule is not absorbed by the body as the addition of chloride molecules means that it can no longer fit into sweetness receptors in the body. The chlorine makes the fructose part of the molecule more hydrophobic, or unable to mix with water. Binding in the body is no longer possible and the molecule simply passes through the digestive system.

Unlike many artificial sweeteners, sucralose is largely considered safe for human consumption, according to the Center for Science in Public Interest. No major side effects were found in 110 studies when the estimated daily intake was followed. There are no known carcinogenic effects and the product is considered safe for individuals with diabetes. There are also no known environmental effects to this sweetener products and disposal.

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Discussion Comments
By Buster29 — On Aug 07, 2014

After my wife told me she was getting headaches after drinking diet sodas with aspartame, I decided to look into the sucralose vs aspartame controversy myself. I didn't want to start consuming a lot of products containing sucralose until I researched things like sucralose side effects and possible dangers.

I would say that concerns over possible sucralose dangers, especially cancer, are a little exaggerated. I wouldn't want to eat a hundred pounds of the stuff every day, but that's true for a lot of other chemicals most of us consume. I much prefer sucralose to other artificial sweeteners for baking purposes. I might consider using xylitol or sorbitol instead of powdered sugar, but for all other purposes I'd use sucralose.

By Inaventu — On Aug 06, 2014

Of all the artificial sweeteners currently on the market, I think I prefer sucralose the best. It's still not an exact substitute for regular sugar, but I think it's the closest. Stevia and aspartame have too much of a chemical aftertaste in my opinion. If I get a diet soft drink, I always look for one sweetened with sucralose. I grew up when saccharine was the only artificial sweetener available, and I was afraid to try any of the newer sweeteners after that experience.

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