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The Science of SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener
Sucralose, the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, is manufactured through a process that begins with sugar and produces a sweetener that is about 600 times sweeter than sugar. This means that average daily intakes are very small – estimated at just 1 mg/kg/day. Sucralose has no calories and is not recognized by the body as a carbohydrate.
Sucralose is manufactured using a multistep process in which 3 hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar (sucrose) molecule are selectively replaced with 3 chlorine atoms. Sucralose starts with sugar and tastes like sugar, but it's not sugar.
The role of the chlorine atoms
The tightly bound chlorine atoms are exceptionally stable and prevent the sucralose molecule from being metabolized for energy. As a result, studies show that sucralose does not elevate blood glucose or serum insulin levels. The chlorine atoms also provide heat stability, enabling sucralose to withstand the rigours of cooking and baking without losing sweetness.
Absorption and distribution
The majority (about 85%) of consumed sucralose is not absorbed and passes through the gastrointestinal tract unchanged. Approximately 15% of ingested sucralose is passively absorbed, which is related to the fact that sucralose is a very small, very water-soluble molecule. Because it is highly water soluble, absorbed sucralose is distributed to essentially all tissues. Sucralose is not lipophilic and does not bioaccumulate. Radiolabel studies show that sucralose is not actively transported across the blood-brain barrier, the placental barrier, or the mammary gland.
Sucralose is not recognized as a carbohydrate by the body; it is not broken down for energy and provides no calories. Approximately 2% of ingested sucralose is biotransformed into toxicologically insignificant components and excreted in the urine. Sucralose does not bind to blood or other proteins. There is also no dechlorination or breakdown of the molecule to its component monosaccharide-like derivatives.
Most ingested sucralose is eliminated unchanged in the stool with no gastrointestinal effects. With the very small amount of sucralose intake that can be expected from foods and beverages containing sucralose, osmotic effects that are known to occur with some poorly absorbed substances would not be expected. Of the small amount of sucralose that is absorbed, most is eliminated in the urine within 24 hours.