Q. Is Splenda artificial or made from sugar?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Monday, 10 February 2014.
Tagged: healthy eating, sugar, sugar substitutes, sweetener

Q.  Is Splenda artificial or made from sugar?

THE QUESTION IN DETAIL
Q. Can you please tell me about the sweetener Splenda®. I believe it contains some artificial sweetener like maltodextrin, however it is promoted as being made from sugar.

A. Splenda® is the brand name of a number of low-kilojoule sweetening products that contain sucralose.

Sucralose is a sweetener that was approved for use in Australia in 1993. It's made by a process that changes the chemical structure of sugar - three of the hydroxyl ends in a sucrose molecule are replaced with chloride. So it IS made from sugar but it's far from natural.

However Sucralose has been approved as safe by our food regulator and has 600 times the sweetness of sugar but none of its kilojoules (calories) - perfect for dieters. Its great advantage over other sweeteners is that it doesn't break down with heat so can be used in home cooking and baking.

Aside from the sucralose, which is used in tiny quantities, the Splenda sweeteners you'll find in the supermarket contain a variety of filler ingredients depending upon what they are:

  • Splenda granular is a spoon for spoon equivalent for sugar that can be used for cooking. It contains the added starch maltodextrin (not a sweetener) and as a result has a tiny 8kJ (2 cals) per teaspoon. Really nothing to count
  • Splenda tablets are designed to pop into beverages like coffee or tea. One tablet is equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar and has a negligible 1.3kJ (0 cals). The kilojoules come from lactose filler added to bulk out the tablet. This is a common filler in many tablets.
  • Splenda sachets contain two starches maltodextrin and dextrose. One sachet is equivalent to two teaspoons of sugar in sweetness and is 4kJ (1 cal). Again next to nothing.

When Splenda is used to sweeten commercial foods (like diet soft drinks), it contributes no kilojoules because there is no need for accompanying starches as with the other forms above. On diet drinks, you'll see it listed under its additive code number 955.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.