Is Splenda Safe for Diabetes?

Splenda packets
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Remember when those little yellow sweetener packets started showing up next to the pink and blue packets in your local restaurant? Well, since its commercial introduction in 1999, Splenda has risen in popularity to take over 62 percent of the U.S. market share for artificial sweeteners.

But, should you be using Splenda? Is it safe for people with diabetes? Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more.

What Is Splenda?

Splenda is made from the FDA-approved artificial sweetener sucralose. The FDA reviewed over 110 human and animal studies on sucralose prior to approving it safe for consumption. In its review, it included studies that looked for links to cancer and reproductive and nerological issues. None were found.

An individual 1g packet of Splenda technically has 3.3 calories, however, this number is low enough to be considered "calorie-free" under FDA labeling laws. Interestingly, the low caloric content actually comes from bulking agents used in the production of Splenda, not sucralose.

As with other artificial sweeteners, Splenda is intensely sweet. In fact, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than table sugar.

In the U.S., Splenda is used as a sweetener in many pre-sweetened beverages and foods. It can be purchased as either individual packets or larger bulk packaged granuals, in both white and brown sugar baking forms.

(If you're having tea across the pond in the UK, however, you could also find Splenda available in tablet form.)

Which Foods Use Splenda?

Many "sugar-free" and "reduced-calorie" foods use artificial sweeteners to add a sweet flavor without adding extra carbohydrates or grams of sugar. Splenda, in the form of sucralose, is one of the artificial sweeteners that is used.

If you're wondering if a product contains Splenda, read the ingredient list and look for the word "sucralose."

What Are the Health Effects of Artificial Sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners have been closely looked at for possible health concerns. And, there's conflicting evidence about whether they actually help or harm weight maintenance, especially when it comes to diet drinks. Research is increasingly showing that drinking diet sodas is linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.

Is Splenda a Good Option for People With Diabetes?

As for diabetes, Splenda is a sugar substitute option that has been found to have little effect on blood sugar levels. While filling your pantry with specialty diabetes-friendly products made from safe alternative sweeteners, such as Splenda, is not necessary, you might want to use such products to have more flexibility when it comes to diabetic meal planning.

Also, as with other foods and diabetes, the main thing you need to factor in is the total number of carbohydrates you're consuming in any given meal, snack, or drink. Just because something is labeled sugar-free or has Splenda in it, doesn't mean it's carbohydrate free.

Make sure you read labels and factor the total number of carbohydrates into your meal.

Sources:

Grotz, V Lee, et al. "Lack of effect of sucralose on glucose homeostasis in subjects with type 2 diabetes". Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 103(12): 1607-12.

Jing Ma, et al. "Effect of the artificial sweetener, sucralose, on gastric emptying and incretin hormone release in healthy subjects". American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal Liver Physiology. 2009; 296(4): G735-739.

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