Continuing our article series on sugar substitutes. Previously we talked about Saccharin and Aspartame and now we will take up the remaining two sugar substitutes- Sucralose and Stevia.
Sucralose is a chlorinated sugar and is about 600 times sweeter than sugar. It is used in beverages, frozen desserts, chewing gum and other products. It is commercially available under the brand name Splenda. In India, it is commonly available as Natura Diet Sugar.
Sucralose is extremely insoluble in fat and thus does not accumulate in fat as do some other organochlorides. It is minimally absorbed by the body and passes out unchanged. The US Food and Drug Administration approved its use in 1998.
Though Aspartame and Sucralose are the most widely used, there are other artificial sweeteners gaining popularity because they are considered more natural. Stevia is widely considered as the safest of all sweeteners. It is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant (there is some artificial processing involved). It has a slightly bitter aftertaste and provides 250 to 300 times the sweetness of sugar. It is commonly used in Japan in a wide range of foods and as a tabletop sweetener.
Due to the relatively recent adoption of Stevia as a sugar substitute, there is not enough research to substantiate the long term health effects of Stevia consumption.
Coming to back to the original question – Which is the best artificial sweetener?
More than the best, its a question of least harmful and controversial artificial sweetener. Clearly, Sucralose and Stevia are the least controversial with regard to their health effects. Also, they are possibly less processed than the other two options of Aspartame and Saccharin.
We believe that natural sources are the best. Our suggestion is to watch your consumption of sugar substitutes. If you must consume, then please do so in moderation.