How Much Splenda Is Safe In One Day?

17 Feb

This morning, like every other morning, my alarm clock went off at an always-feels-too-early 7am, and my dog jumped on me and licked my face. I sat up, sneezed 10,000 times (thank you Texas allergens) and dragged my feet over to the coffee maker. Four scoops in, four cups of water added, power on, and I grabbed a Splenda to put in the mug while it brewed to be extra efficient. Splenda in and coffee brewing, I then turned my attention to breakfast. What to eat this morning? I opened the cabinet, stared at the shelves for a little longer than necessary (no coffee yet = slow brain) and decided on oat bran for a change. I grabbed a bowl, measured out a 1/3 of a cup, sprinkled salt, added a splenda, and threw it in the microwave. Two minutes later, everything was set–coffee and bowl o’ bran–and I sat down to my email inbox. I ate my first spoonful of hot cereal, and upon tasting, realized it wasn’t sweet enough. In went another Splenda. Stir, stir, stir, then another taste test. Perfect! I turned to my left to check my phone, and noticed a nice little neat pile of three used Splenda packages.

too much splenda

Hmm. Is that bad?

Thinking ahead to the rest of my day, it was very likely that there was more Splenda in my future: one packet in a second cup of coffee, and one packet in a Greek yogurt. This would bring my total to five.

too much splenda

That all equates to about 3/4 of a tablespoon of the sweet stuff.

too much splenda

 

Did you ever stop to think about how much artificial sweetener you use in a day?

While no research has 100% proven that artificial sweeteners are harmful to humans, there are plenty of people I know who get back headaches from using them, or get nauseous even. I personally don’t see any affects, but I’ve also never really limited my intake, so I can’t be sure.What I do know, is that I currently use Splenda very frequently with almost no regard to he possible harm I could be doing my body. Probably not a good thing.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the four most popular sweeteners on the market in the U.S., and what their deals are (thank you, Wikipedia):

1. Splenda (sucralose): Splenda is the commercial name of a sucralose-based artificial sweetener derived from sugar, owned by the British company Tate & Lyle. Sucralose is approximately 600 times as sweet as regular table sugar, twice as sweet as saccharin, and 3.3 times as sweet as aspartame. The tagline “Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar” caused a lot of controversy in the sugar and sugar substitute industry, but got a lot of consumers to buy into it because it seemed to be more “natural”. All of the published studies I found pointed to no harmful affects in humans, however, when fed to animals at obscene quantities (the equivalent of 11,450 packets a day), their DNA started to breakdown, there was weight gain, and more (yeah… but that’s 11 thousand packets…). I then came across this website, that notes that “The inventors of Splenda admit around fifteen percent (15%) of sucralose is absorbed by the body, but they cannot guarantee us (out of this fifteen percent) what amount of chlorine stays in the body and what percent flushes out.” I then looked up affects of chlorine on the body, and while this study is based on chlorinated water, it’s still pretty interesting

Long-term risks of consuming chlorinated water include excessive free radical formation, which accelerates aging, increases vulnerability to genetic mutation and cancer development, hinders cholesterol metabolism, and promotes hardening of arteries.

Excess free radicals created by chlorinated water also generate dangerous toxins in the body. These have been directly linked to liver malfunction, weakening of the immune system and pre-arteriosclerotic changes in arteries. Excessive free radicals have been linked also to alterations of cellular DNA.42 Chlorine also destroys antioxidant vitamin E,2 which is needed to counteract excess oxysterols/free radicals for cardiac and anti-cancer protection.

Hmm.

2. Sweet’n Low (saccharine): an artificial sweetener made from granulated saccharin, dextrose and cream of tartar. Saccharin was first discovered in 1878 by Constantin Fahlberg, a chemist working on coal tar derivatives at the Johns Hopkins University. Fun fact: saccharine has been banned as a food additive in Canada (hmm), so Sweet’n Low is made from Sodium Cyclamate there (pure science).

3. Equal (aspartame): a brand of artificial sweetener containing aspartame, dextrose and maltodextrin. It is approximately 200 times sweeter than table sugar. Fun fact (and it’s also a weird fact): Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by James M. Schlatter, a chemist working for G.D. Searle & Company. Schlatter had synthesized aspartame in the course of producing an antiulcer drug candidate. He accidentally discovered its sweet taste when he licked his finger, which had become contaminated with aspartame, to lift up a piece of paper. There have been many studies on the harmful affects of this sweetener in particular, including the famous study that reported it as a cause of cancer in rats. If you scroll all the way down to the end of the wiki entry on aspartame though, the FDA claims it as one of the most well-tested food additives at all times. Which side are you on?

2. Truvia (stevia): This is the sweetner I know the least about, and was surprised by what I read on Wikipedia. Check it: Truvia is a stevia-based sugar substitute developed jointly by The Coca Cola Company and Cargill. Did you know Coca Cola was a major investor in the development of this? Extremely interesting. Read on: The claims that Truvia is a natual sweetener are disputed. The Truvia website claims that, to make Rebiana, “Dried stevia leaves are steeped in water similar to making tea”. However, the Coca Cola patent in fact refers to a 42 step process which involve the use of chemicals such as acetone, methanol, acetonitrile, isopropanol and tert-butanol. Cargill claims that the product is based upon an extract of the stevia leaf. This is also called in to question since only 1% of the ingredients is Rebiana, the other 99% comprises erythritol, a corn based sweetener.I had NO IDEA about that 1% part.

Personally, it’s a goal of mine to give up artificial sweeteners altogether. Most of the studies out there are funded by the investors themselves, leaving me no real option to trust. It’s extremely easy to publish a report that leans in favor of the outcome you’d like the public to see–trust me. And while I’m not calling all of these products evil either, I’m just saying the safest bet is to stay natural.

What’s your sweetener of choice? Do you prefer to go natural or artificial?

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11 Responses to “How Much Splenda Is Safe In One Day?”

  1. brit February 18, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    I drink coffee black but my step-mom is hooked on Truvia. I never knew anything about artificial sweeteners, very interesting!

    • melruns February 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

      Isn’t that stuff about stevia being only 1% of what they claim it is wild? I wonder what else we “think” we know.

  2. Laura Jane @ Recovering Chocoholic February 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Great question! I’ve been wondering about this very subject a lot. I think the ideal is of course to just eat least sweetener (real sugar, honey, “natural” sweetener, splenda, etc.), but that’s not easy for most to accomplish. I’ve realized that when I’m limiting calories I can really consume a whole lot of artificial sweeteners – diet soft drinks, sugar free pudding, Crystal Light, etc. I really like your explanation of the different alternatives – definitely gives me something to think about.

    • melruns February 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      I’m totally with you–real is the best option! When did everyone get so scared of sugar? The funny thing is, when I do put sugar in my coffee instead of splenda, it tastes “off” to me. That’s how much I’m used to the fake stuff.

  3. Phil May 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Why is everyone obsessed with the words “real” = good and “artificial” = bad with food? it does not matter who made them, nature or humans, it’s still just atoms stuck together in an order. Also, comparing chlorinated water to splenda is not valid as the chlorine in water is free, the chlorine in splenda is tightly bound and cannot come away from the molecule. Chlorine is not dangerous, only the chlorine atom by itself. Your table salt NaCl is HALF sodium, half chlorine and does nothing. Everyone is scared of the word chlorine for no reason other than movies and popular culture.

    • Easton February 9, 2014 at 2:02 am #

      Apparently NaCl is pretty bad too… It’s still different from sea salt, right, so it’s not exactly good salt.

  4. Val June 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    You think you’re bad? We serve a young man at work who gets 4 to 5 large iced teas a day with 20 splendas in each one. I’m guessing it’s better than what he used to get which were large iced coffees with 27 pumps (13 ounces) of sugar syrup in each. That’s a bottle and a half of sugar syrup every day.

    • melruns July 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      Holy moly. That’s pretty intense! He must eat a Snickers bar and think it’s not very sweet.

  5. Levi Pollitt June 8, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    Today artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes are found in a variety of food and beverages marketed as “sugar-free” or “diet,” including soft drinks, chewing gum, jellies, baked goods, candy, fruit juice, and ice cream and yogurt. ‘^^:

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  6. Claudia Komo June 8, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose, or table sugar. Due to this property, even though aspartame produces four kilocalories of energy per gram when metabolized, the quantity of aspartame needed to produce a sweet taste is so small that its caloric contribution is negligible.*:^,

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  7. Cassie September 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Honestly, it’s worth just buying powdered stevia extract. If you buy it from herb sellers, you’re bound to get 100% stevia extract. I do use the leaves and organic, ground powder, but for certain things I’ve found the extract is much stronger. I have never tried finding a distilled liquid form, but I bet that’s worth it too. I have been a bit concerned about artificial sweeteners lately, since I prefer going organic.

    What I love about powdered stevia extract is that a pinch is much stronger than a whole teaspoon of sugar. Eat that, Truvia, lol. I’ve always known something was up with Truvia. Why can’t companies just go natural? Ugh.

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