Splenda sweetener - the delusion of low calories
Millions of Americans use artificial "no calorie" sweeteners in their eagerness to get rid of their bulging waistlines or control diabetes. Unfortunately, FDA regulations make it possible for manufacturers to claim that a product has no calories by reducing the serving size and then rounding to zero the calories of any ingredients which weigh less than 0.5 gram per serving. The trade names of the products, which are not regulated, also mislead the public. The average consumer would expect a product such as "SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener" to contain no calories, but this is simply a trade name and does not reflect the actual caloric content of the product. Here is how Splenda is promoted:
SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener contains sucralose (SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener), the no calorie sweetener made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar, with no unpleasant aftertaste. SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener can be used virtually anywhere sugar is used. It can also be used in cooking and baking in a variety of recipes. Like many no and low calorie sweeteners, each serving of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener contains a very small amount of common food ingredients, e.g., dextrose and/or maltodextrin, for volume. Because the amount of these ingredients is so small, SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener still has an insignificant calorie value per serving and meets FDA's standards for "no calorie" sweeteners.
SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener comes in two forms for consumers, granular and packet. The granular form of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener measures and pours just like sugar. SPLENDA® Packets provide a convenient way to add sweetness without guilt!
It is certainly true that sucralose, the artificial sweetener in Splenda, is free of calories, but Splenda is a mixture of dextrose, maltodextrin, and sucralose. The calories from Splenda come from the dextrose and maltodextrin both of which are carbohydrates.
The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference shows that 10 grams, i.e., ten individual packets, of Splenda (NDB No: 19868) have 33 Calories. Ten grams of Splenda contain 9.00 g of carbohydrates consisting of 8.03 g of sugars (dextrose) and 0.96 grams of starch (maltodextrin).
For comparison, 10 grams of granulated sugar (NDB No: 19335) have 39 Calories. This is only 6 calories more than the equivalent weight of Splenda. Anybody who uses Splenda instead of sugar is saving an insignificant number of calories.
When I commented on the Calorie Restriction Society list about this, Michael Rae replied:
> Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda are mixtures of dextrose,
> maltodextrin, and sucralose. The carbohydrates in ten grams of Splenda
> have 33 Calories compared to 39 Calories for an equal weight of sugar.
> The manufacturers reduce the serving size so that the calories can be
> rounded to zero. You can check this using CRON-o-meter by typing
> "splenda" (USDA 19868) and specifying 10 grams.
These numbers here aren't quite right on a couple of fronts. First off,
as regards soft drinks, the manufacturers don't use Splenda mix, which
is bulked up as you describe for consumer use, but pure sucralose, which
contains exceedingly close to zero metabolizable energy, so it doesn't
apply to them (or to other premanufactured foods).
As to Splenda proper: the error here is that you're assuming that one
substitutes the stuff for sugar on a gram-for-gram basis, which for the
packets you don't: as the USDA entry notes, a packet is only 1 g, but it
replaces 1 tsp (4.2 g) of table sugar. So you're replacing 16.3 Calories
with 3.3 Calories -- a substantial savings. Cf the manufacturer's
... pp. 13-14, where they round UP a bit, indicating that a packet has 1
g carb and 4 Calories. (SPLENDA® Sugar Blend and Granulated are
higher-Calorie as they contain a lot more sugar, for the bulking
properties required to substitute in baking and other projects, but
still contain a lot fewer Calories than pure sucrose).
© Copyright - Antonio Zamora