Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is generally considered safe when enjoyed in moderation. However, research on its long-term effects has turned up mixed results.
Excessive amounts of added sugar can have harmful effects on your metabolism and overall health (
For this reason, many people turn to artificial sweeteners like sucralose.
However, while authorities claim that sucralose is safe to eat, some studies have linked it to health problems.
This article takes an objective look at sucralose and its health effects — both good and bad.
Sucralose is a zero calorie artificial sweetener, and Splenda is the most common sucralose-based product.
Sucralose is made from sugar in a multistep chemical process in which three hydroxyl groups are replaced with chlorine atoms (
Supposedly, it was discovered in 1976 when a scientist at a British college allegedly misheard instructions about testing a substance. Instead, he tasted it, realizing that it was highly sweet.
The companies Tate & Lyle and Johnson & Johnson then jointly developed Splenda products. It was introduced in the United States in 1998 and is one of the most popular sweeteners in the country (
Splenda is commonly used as a sugar substitute in both cooking and baking. It’s also added to thousands of food products worldwide.
However, the total calories and carbs Splenda contributes to your diet are negligible, as you only need tiny amounts each time.
This is because sucralose is approximately 600 times sweeter than sugar (
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener. Splenda is the most popular product made from it. Sucralose is made from sugar but contains no calories and is much sweeter.
Another study had similar findings, reporting that consuming sucralose with each meal for 12 weeks had no effect on insulin, fasting blood sugar levels, or hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar control (
Therefore, more high quality research on the effects of sucralose on blood sugar and insulin levels is still needed.
Most studies suggest that sucralose has little to no effect on blood sugar or insulin levels. However, several other studies have turned up conflicting results.
Splenda is considered to be heat resistant and good for cooking and baking. However, recent studies have challenged this.
It seems that at high temperatures, Splenda starts to break down and interact with other ingredients (
On the other hand, a more recent study reported that sucralose doesn’t form these compounds when heated and is safe for cooking and baking. However, note that this study was funded by Tate & Lyle, the manufacturers of Splenda (14).
At high temperatures, sucralose may break down and generate harmful substances that could contribute to cancer development. However, more research is needed.
The friendly bacteria in your gut are extremely important for your overall health.
Interestingly, one 2-week study found that consuming 20% of the acceptable daily intake for sucralose per day had no effect on the beneficial bacteria in the gut (
However, although these studies suggest that short-term sucralose consumption is unlikely to affect gut health, animal studies on long-term sucralose intake have found that it could have negative effects.
For example, one study in mice showed that 6 months of sucralose consumption disrupted the balance of the gut microbiome and increased inflammation (
Therefore, more studies on the long-term effects of sucralose on gut health in humans are needed.
Human studies show that short-term intake of sucralose is unlikely to affect gut health. However, one animal study found that consuming high amounts for 6 months could disrupt gut balance.
Products that contain zero-calorie sweeteners are often marketed as being good for weight loss.
One review of 56 studies found that non-nutritive sweeteners could have a small beneficial effect on body mass index (BMI). However, researchers also noted that most of the studies were low quality (
On the other hand, a 2014 review of observational studies found no connection between artificial sweetener consumption and body weight or fat mass, but reported a small increase in body mass index (BMI) (
Meanwhile, according to the review, randomized controlled trials — the gold standard in scientific research — show that artificial sweeteners reduce body weight by around 1.7 pounds (0.8 kilograms) on average (
Some research suggests that artificial sweeteners could reduce BMI and body weight, but more high quality studies are needed.
Like other artificial sweeteners, sucralose is highly controversial. Some claim that it’s entirely harmless, but evidence on its safety and long-term health effects is conflicting.
For example, though most research shows that it is unlikely to increase blood sugar or insulin levels, other studies suggest that it could have negative effects (
The safety of sucralose at high temperatures has also been questioned. Therefore, some people may want to opt for other sweeteners when cooking or baking (13).
That being said, the long-term health effects are still unclear, but health authorities like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do consider it to be safe.
Health authorities consider sucralose to be safe, but studies have raised questions about its health effects. The long-term health effects of consuming it are unclear.
If you like the taste of sucralose and your body handles it well, it’s probably fine to use in moderation. There’s certainly no clear-cut evidence that it’s harmful to humans.
Still, some people may prefer to choose other sweeteners when cooking or baking, as its stability at high temperatures is unclear.
If you choose to avoid sucralose or artificial sweeteners in general, there are plenty of great alternatives.