It's the war of the sweeteners and sugar has been shunned as the kid no one wants to play with. Right now the two main players in this fight are Stevia and Splenda. They both claim health benefits and they both claim to be the best thing that ever happened to humanity. But, what's really behind the claims and the pretty packaging? Let's find out...
Splenda came with high hopes and as game changer. Diabetics now could eat sugar and bake goodies that wouldn't be bad for them. Splenda became famous almost instantly. But what really is inside Splenda?
What is Splenda?
Splenda is half real and half synthetic. It is 600 times sweeter than sugar and 3 times sweeter than aspartame. Because it is so sweet, it cannot be sold by itself. Rather, splenda is mixed with maltodextrin and then sold. In a packet of splenda, you will find more maltodextrin than actual splenda.
Which sweetener is more popular?
The bad side of Splenda
Splenda's chemical name is sucralose. It is chemically similar to sugar, with one huge exception: Splenda has 3 chlorine atoms. I don't about you, but chlorine is not something that I like to include in my diet. Last I checked it was really toxic.
- Splenda has 3 chlorine atoms in its chemical makeup, which can be absorbed by your body and result in some health problems.
- Stevia is a great sweetener is used in its natural form. Stevia extract has been stripped of its natural properties and there isn't enough research to know that long term effects could be.
The ugly side of Splenda
Splenda was supposed to be a good product for many reasons, one of them being that it contained no calories. In theory, because splenda cannot metabolized by the body, it was said that it was non-caloric. But is that completely true?
Turns out our body absorbs about 25% of all the toxic chlorine atoms that make their way into our body. If you consume splenda on a regular basis, those chlorine atoms are flowing into your body like ants to sugar. And the worst part is that 25% of it is being absorbed. Once absorbed, these chlorine atoms can destroy good intestinal bacteria (probiotics) which help the body absorb vitamins and nutrients. So, in fewer words, Splenda = toxic = bad for you.
Other ways in which Splenda could affect your body is by increasing the intestines pH levels which leads to gas, unstable metabolism and serious damage to the colon and the instestinal epithelium.
It can also kill your tastebuds. So far splenda doesn't paint a pretty picture. Let's move on to the other constestant...
Stevia is a plant. A very sweet plant that grows in South America. It's a plant that you could have in your own garden if you're able to find one to plant. In general stevia:
- Does not affect insulin levels
- Reduces bad cholesterol
- Is known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties
- Is a diuretic
Stevia's scientific name is Stevia Rebaudiana and it's made up of a lot of things, such as flavonoids and glycosides. But the commercial industry doesn't care about flavonoids. It cares about glycosides which are the sweet compounds that they can sell. And this is where the problem starts.
The problem with Stevia
Stevia would be your perfect sweetener if you used it in its natural form, such as sweetening your food with stevia tea or with its dried leaves.
But most of us take the easy (and most popular) way out and go buy the extract. The problem with the extract is that it has already been chemically processed and stripped of most of its properties.
The good part is that even if Stevia extract does not have all of the Stevia plant properties, at least is not damaging to your body. No chlorine atoms here.
Of course, stevia extract is relatively new so a lot more research would need to be conducted as for the long term effects that stevia could have. For example, some lab studies done on stevia extract indicate that it could have some carcinogenic effects if used long term.
Stevia vs. Splenda: who wins?
So far, stevia is the winner, but maybe further research will reveal a new, healthier player in this war of the sweeteners. You may want to stick with plain, ol' sugar in moderate quantities, but that's just my opinion.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Linda on September 23, 2019:
Does Stevia have chlorine atoms or chloride atoms? Chloride is part of a lot of things we eat, notably salt, or sodium chloride.
RonanJV on August 09, 2018:
What is this vile stupidity, Stevia is also sucralose based. Additionally potassium and sodium and salts are paired with chlorine, SO NO CHLORIDE ISN'T BAD FOR YOU. IT'S USED FOR YOUR STOMACH TO NAME HYDROCHLORIC ACID.
RonanJV on August 03, 2018:
Stevia has higher risks of cancer associated with it, Splenda does not. Both are sucralose based, but Stevia uses impure methods
Marg fitz on April 26, 2018:
I may just stick to hood ole sugar. But use Stevia instead of Splenda in sugar/free recipes for my husband
Chuck Bluestein from Morristown, AZ, USA on February 18, 2017:
People who are concerned about eating healthy in America are called health nuts because they are rare. In Japan the people live the longest and all are health nuts. They have been sweetening their soft drinks since the 1940s with stevia. That is about 70 years ago. If Americans stopped buying all this crap, then they would stop selling it.
Chuck Bluestein from Morristown, AZ, USA on October 22, 2013:
I have been using stevia for decades. It is very good for helping the body to balance blood sugar. Dr. Chen is an expert on Chinese herbs. He started a Chinese herbal company 3 decades ago. It is a billion dollar company. But when he started it, he studied stevia that grows in South America, not in China and learned how to process it since he knew that it would be important. Note that Japan has been sweetening their soft drinks with stevia for 3 decades.