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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Is Splenda® a healthy alternative to sugar, Equal®, and Sweet and Low®?

I see you use Splenda in some of your recipes. I try to eat healthy and I don't use too much sugar. What's the deal with Splenda? Is it unhealthy like Equal and Sweet and Low? Does it react like sugar in the body? Should I limit my intake?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

a package of granulated Splenda

Splenda® is the brand name for sucralose, which is an artificial sweetener made from sugar. The process involves moving some atoms around on the sucrose (sugar) molecule to make sucralose. Basically it is as if the sucrose molecule was your left hand and the sucralose molecule is your right hand. Both are hands and they work pretty much the same way.

So you can use sucralose like sugar - for the most part it measures, bakes and cooks just like sugar. The difference is that the sucralose molecule is not absorbed into the body, so there are no calories.

In the recipes where I have used this product it works pretty much the same as sugar. The blueberry muffins use sucralose as well as desserts like crème caramel and key lime pie. I actually went back and reworked the chocolate cheesecake recipe and saved about 50 calories per serving by using Splenda. All of these recipes use different cooking processes.

It's not perfect, however. With the chocolate sauce the results were not as good. The mouthfeel was different enough that using sugar made for a better recipe.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet

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