The question, is Splenda safe, honestly depends on who you ask. Research has been conducted that points to both the safety and dangers of this artificial sweetener. It's best to have all the facts on hand and then make a decision based on personal health beliefs and goals.
What Is Splenda?
Splenda is the trade name for sucralose and it's made from, as one might guess, sucrose. Splenda is wildly popular perhaps because it's 600 times as sweet as sugar spoon per spoon. Human bodies do not recognize sucrose as an actual sugar because of the chemical make-up, and thus it passes right through the body. Splenda is heat stable and so it can be used in baked goods such as cookies and cakes. It has a sort of sugary taste - maybe more so than other tabletop artificial sweeteners -- but many think it leaves an odd lingering flavor.
The chemical make-up is something to take note of because much of the negativity about Splenda comes from how it's made. Splenda is sucrose with three chlorine atoms substituted for three hydrogen and oxygen groups, which is actually why it's so much sweeter than sugar. Splenda in pure form is also much smaller bulk wise than sugar so fillers are added to bulk it up - otherwise you'd be trying to add about three granules of Splenda to your coffee with little luck.
Splenda is used for just about everything you can imagine including sodas, dairy products, desserts, gum, syrup, salad dressing and many other edible items.
Many people are on Splenda's team and are of the camp that Splenda is perfectly safe. Most health texts will offer plain statements about Splenda's safety; reporting things like, "Numerous studies over the years have been conducted and Splenda is safe" without offering many facts.
So is Splenda safe? So far evidence on this side does say yes. One study was conducted that reported that Splenda in no way causes cancer and is safe for use during pregnancy. Who validates Splenda's safety to the public? Many huge organizations feel Splenda is safe for consumers including:
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives
- The European Union's Scientific Committee on Food
- Health Protection Branch of Health
- And various other organizations all over the world.
Most of the counter arguments against the dangers of Splenda have to do with the dangers of obesity. Most organizations, studies, and doctors have noted that obesity is far worse and a more dangerous epidemic than chemically enhanced foods such as Splenda. If there's a choice between eating Splenda and being overweight people who are involved with healthcare usually choose Splenda. The National Cancer Institute is on team Splenda and has a decent article covering their take on Splenda's safety.
Is Splenda Safe: Many Say No
On the other side of the Splenda issue are of course, the people who think it's not safe to consume at all. There are actually some very good reasons why someone might think hard before consuming Splenda. There's too much information to offer in one short article so check out the following ideas against Splenda and resource links.
The first reason to consider is that Splenda has only been approved in the United States since 1998. That's not very long in science research years. It can take a long time for dangers to surface when it comes to any consumable item. What we don't know today could turn out to be very dangerous tomorrow.
Other reasons to perhaps stay away from Splenda include:
- The Journal of Head and Face Pain published a study (after FDA approval) that found Splenda to be a migraine trigger. Since then other studies have shown the same.
- The Journal of Mutation Research reported that high doses of sucralose caused DNA damage in mice.
- Often sucralose is used not alone but in combinations with other artificial sweeteners and almost always contains fillers. The problem with this is that the 'safety' studies conducted about Splenda are based on pure sucralose research not sucralose in combinations. When you mix chemicals and ingredients the safety of an item can vary - just like different medication mixes.
- Sucralose is a chlorinated compound (a toxic chlorocarbon).
- Various studies have shown that diet foods; such as foods with artificial sweeteners can actually cause people to eat more and damage their diets.
This WebMD article covers some of the concerns over Splenda. Splenda is not the only artificial sweetener to come under attack. The dangers in aspartame and the dangers of Stevia are also a concern to health-minded people.
Why Eat Splenda At All
There's also an in-between point of view. This is actually the best view because it promotes ideas we already know to be healthy. The question of "is Splenda safe" doesn't matter; some simply advocate healthy eating. Part of that is eating a diet that includes wholesome and real food choices - not foods that have been sweetened to make them more appealing. The argument here is that if everything tastes constantly sweet that's what people get used to and want. People who simply eat regular old balanced diets and exercise often will be healthy.
Allow your taste buds to get used to a diet that's not always sweet. Not all foods are meant to be sweet or sweeter. A good rule of thumb is that if a food item grows in a laboratory it's far less normal for you to eat than say an animal product or something that grows out of the ground. Try to keep natural food items on your plate. In the long run that will likely turn out to be the healthiest choice.