Artificial sweeteners allow consumers to enjoy a little sweetness without the calories and sugar. Splenda and Sweet & Low are brand names for two artificial sweeteners, sucralose and saccharin, respectively. Both products are used as tabletop sweeteners as well as in baked goods, beverages and candies. There are a few differences between Splenda and Sweet & Low, however.
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Where it Comes From
Both sweeteners are man-made substances, but they come from different sources. Splenda is made when the hydrogen and oxygen of a sugar molecule is replaced by chlorine. The body is not able to break down the resulting molecule, which means it does not provide the body with any calories. Sweet & Low is made from toluene, which is a derivative of petroleum. The latter was discovered by accident in 1879 when a scientist noticed that a chemical he spilled on his hand was sweet.
Both Splenda and Sweet & Low are much sweeter than sugar. Splenda is 600 times as sweet, while Sweet & Low has 300 to 500 times the sweetness of sugar. Both products are heat-stable and can be used in baked goods, but only Splenda can be replace sugar cup for cup. Sweet & Low contains a bulking agent addition to saccharin to make the volume more comparable to sugar. One single-serve packet of either Splenda or Sweet & Low is equivalent to 2 teaspoons of sugar. Sweet & Low leaves a bitter aftertaste, while the makers of Splenda claim that their product tastes like sugar.
Studies and Research
According to the Calorie Control Council, saccharin, the main in ingredient in Sweet & Low, is one of the most studied food additives on the market. Over 30 human studies and 14 animal studies have been conducted on saccharin. While most of the studies have supported the safety of the sweetener, a few studies found that high doses of saccharin caused bladder cancer in rats. Splenda, on the other hand, was the subject of over 100 studies over a 20-year period, without any negative safety findings.
The Question of Safety
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed both Splenda and Sweet & Low safe for human consumption. There have been many more safety concerns regarding Sweet & Low than Splenda, but in 2000, a law was passed that removed all safety warnings from saccharin due to the rat studies being flawed. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, however, is not convinced of the safety of either sweetener. The organization recommends exercising caution when consuming Splenda and avoiding Sweet & Low altogether.
- Calorie Control Council: Saccharin
- Calorie Control Council: Sucralose
- The Free Dictionary: Saccharin
- Elmhurst College: Saccharin - the Oldest Sweetener
- Elmhurst College: Sucralose or Splenda
- Saccharin.org: Saccharin
- Journal of Neuroscience: Bitter Taste Receptors for Saccharin and Acesulfame K
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Chemical Cuisine