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Splenda Low Calorie Sweetener

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9 Reviews

Brand: Splenda / Type: Baking Aids

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    9 Reviews
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      12.11.2012 17:33
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      Highlighting the risks which are in Splenda products.

      Long gone are the days when I actively did small surveys to get a Whiskers hamper of treats, so I could give as presents for those who have felines living with them. Nor have I become a Bzz Agent, or signed up to campaigns that allows for capitalism's marketing machine to sell-on, abuse, or put me on 800 databases so I'll get three calls a day telling me about Payment Protection Insurance. "Yea, I know about PPI - I'm ahead of the game chum, I knew of the scandal in 2008 - during the financial crisis". Having adopted a policy that involves 'not putting ANY data about myself into the public domain, I am inundated with offers' - heaven knows what it would be like if I frivolously gave my details out willy-nilly (Whoever he is?). Amongst the avalanche of packages, one of them would've been a complimentary helping of Splenda. A sugar substitute for people who crave sugar but for whatever reason cannot indulge with the white stuff due to its calorific factor. In other words kidding your body you're consuming sugar. There is a major set-back though, - taste-buds. Nothing gets past them; they're like doormen to a special members club. These buds you cannot fool - Splenda may alert suspicion.

      I purchased Splenda for 1.00 GBP on the pretence I was destined to entertain people who were neurotic 'figure watchers'. So far in the last three months I've had one taker - I was acting like a sweetener dealer; "Sugar with your tea - we've Splenda?" (twas, hard work being a Splenda Pusha'). One mini sweetener disk sold, ninety nine to go. Quite a poor showing by Splenda, no wonder the brand has given samples away. Being chief hot beverage maker in the household, I was asked in an apologetically meek manner if Splenda was indeed an option in her watery tea, before I engaged my mouth to say the in-hous famous sentence: "Sugar with your tea - we've Splenda?" - When I said we had it, she was very surprised, and remarked; "oh splendid!" - I continued; "We've got the 'Mini' version, is that ok?" - "Yah, splendid; anything 'Mini' is fine with me. " She pats her middle agreeably, obviously a consumer who has bought into Splenda's 'Mini' concept. This is an ancient marketing trick Splenda consumers are duped into, by offering an alternative to sugar cravers, who're hooked on sugar, yet sadistically pop sweetener substitutes into hot beverages. Isn't life too short to go to these lengths? Splenda is 2 calories per helping, and real sugar contains 20 calories per helping. Unless, you're addicted to caffeine, the calorific difference is not worth the hassle of opting for artificial sweeteners. I should know I've popped one myself: (two sold - ninety eight to go). Well, to believe in the product, you have to try it out yourself. I'm not accustomed to pill-plopping into a mug from a sweetener dispenser, so initially I dispensed the mini disk four inches above the mug - not advisable. The mini disk of maltodextrin, sucralose, and glucose hit the base of the mug and out again. By dispensing the sweetener one inch above the mug, it didn't have enough impetus to bounce out. Result. Or if you are clever, make the tea before-hand and then plop the sweetener in - take heed of droplet splash backs though. I'm not doing it again; Splenda tasted vile. Synthetically on par to licking the Queen's head and fastening an envelope - sealing it with a smear of saliva - Splenda obviously modelled itself on the royal mail ritual.

      Love is not a Splenda thing.

      You could be mistaken in thinking this whole experience has benefits. Alas, there are none. Even in kindness I can't state Splenda has a veritable taste of sweetness; the undeniable taste of Artificial sucrose is closer to the mark; not forgetting the stamp banality as an aftertaste. Having it as an oral option is offensive to your taste-buds - bringing the saying, 'no pain, no gain!' into disrepute. Notably, Splenda's sucrose process with chlorine somehow formulates a molecule that is 600 times sweeter than natural sugar. Which if overused over time can create intestinal problems because of Splenda's processes in artificially sweeteners - also of note is the unnatural make-up of vitamin's C and E both vitamins are evident in Splenda products who boast of its health benefits; yet it is not apparent when compared to eating natural fruits or vegetables - resulting in blatant miss-selling to the health conscious consumer. In real terms Splenda has the capacity to increase your faecal PH level which is normally at an alkaline level. Long term Splenda consumers may also find they have more urinal infections due to having diminished lactobacilli levels - in other words -good bacteria from dairy products, such as yogurts. So, if you're likely to sprinkle Splenda products on top of puddings etcetera, as a sugar enhancer, think again.

      I've found the 'Mini' brand deplorable on the premise Splenda purposeful market target is those who're seeking a sweetener alternative to sugar in their diet. They boast of quickening up your metabolism via adding extra vitamins to bolster up the weight loss process - no actual evidence claims this to be the case. Overall, Splenda is highly deceptive and is behind much of the western world's intestinal and urinal complaints. Not only does it taste absolutely revolting it compromises your natural inflammatory defence. Be sweet to yourself, stick with natural sugar.

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        18.11.2010 13:43
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        It's sugar sweet but no substitute for the real thing

        Most people would agree that sugar is not very good for humans, especially not for their teeth or their waistlines but finding a substitute has always been a bit of a problem because of other health considerations linked to sugar substitutes.


        A very brief history of Splenda

        Splenda is a sucralose and the formula was more or less stumbled upon by accident back in 1976 by British scientists who were looking for a new pesticide formulation! Following further research by food scientists, Splenda was introduced to the market as a sweetener.

        The claim that Splenda is derived from sugar seems to be debatable as there are arguments on both side: one side claiming the Splenda molecule is made from sucrose whilst the other side claim that certain elements within the molecule are replaced and thus not a sugar based substance. The jury, it seems, is out on that one.


        Price and availability

        This product is widely available in the UK and is sold in most supermarkets. A 125 gram pack currently retails for £3.17 in Sainsburys.

        Ingredients/Nutritional value

        Splenda is a mixture of Maltodextrin and Sucralose and contains 0.5g of carbohydrate and pretty much nothing else!


        My opinion

        I seem to be on a permanent diet these days in an attempt to retain something of my once youthful figure and reducing sugar intake always forms part of any calorie controlled diet. The appeal of Splenda is their claim that the product is made from sugar (although this is disputed by some) yet it is 10 times sweeter and has only 2 calories per teaspoon.

        ~ Appearance ~

        Like most sugar substitutes, Splenda doesn't look like granulated sugar but has a consistency somewhere between caster and icing sugar, although much more powdery than either of those. This product also lacks a sugary smell. In fact, it doesn't seem to smell of anything.

        ~Taste~

        This product, more than any other sugar substitute I've tried, actually tastes sweet without any chemical after-taste at all, so in that respect, it certainly passes the taste test. The sweetness, however, does seem to linger on the tongue for much longer than natural sugar.

        ~Uses~

        I don't drink tea and neither do I sweeten my coffee but when I've added this to hot drinks I've made for other people, Splenda seems to pass muster, although it does fizz just a little bit when first added to hot drinks.

        I have used this on my porridge in the morning though and it certainly adds the necessary sweetness even if it doesn't have that delicious crunchiness that comes with Demerara sugar but the real selling point is that it can be used in baking. Obviously, when simply sweetening cooked foods such as custards, rice puddings and the like, quantities aren't that vital but when baking cakes and pastries part of the process is getting the ratio of fat and flour to sugar exactly right, otherwise the results won't be spectacular.

        I wouldn't recommend calculating your own quantities of Splenda when baking but there are plenty of recipes available on the Splenda website (www.splenda.co.uk) covering the whole range of baked foods from cakes and biscuits to pastry and puddings. Although not much of a baker, I've had a couple of attempts at recipes from the website and they were reasonably successful. I made the Banana and Walnut bread, which turned out very well and was tasty and moist and indistinguishable from one made using proper sugar, although the butter I spread onto it probably cancelled out any calories I'd saved by using Splenda!

        The other recipe I've attempted is the Rhubarb and Apple Crumble. There are a few recipes for crumbles on the webite and because in 'real' crumble the sugar forms part of the crumb crust, an additional substitute ingredient is required. Several of the recipes include ground almonds to give the necessary consistency but the other option is to add oats, which is what I did. To say it was edible is about as good as it gets because adding oats seems to change the whole ethos of the dish. Quite frankly, it makes it too wholesome and healthy and for the amount of calories saved, you may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb!

        ~Health considerations~

        I can't write a review of this product without mentioning the health risks which some people in the food industry have brought to public notice. Many people turned to Splenda when the health risks associated with aspartame became public knowledge. Aspartame is known to be able to penetrate the blood brain barrier which can lead to toxins entering the brain. So far, nothing quite that terrible has been discovered about Splenda but there's no denying there are some concerns about its use. Despite the manufacturer's claim that this product is safe, and is recommended by Diabetes UK, it seems that food scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about this product too, mainly because of the chlorines it contains. These are known to break down very slowly and there are concerns that cumulative amounts of this product could be harmful to humans. There is also concern about the possible effects of this product on the thymus as tests on rats have shown considerable shrinkage.


        Conclusions

        In terms of taste, I would award Splenda 4 stars. However, because of the health connotations, I'm deducting another star.

        I acknowledge that if we went along with all the nay-sayers about food products, we'd probably never eat or drink anything ever again which hadn't been organically grown or was completely unprocessed. Personally, after reading up on both sides of the health argument and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to stop using Splenda and I've gone back to proper sugar, mainly golden granulated or Demerara. I think that, when used sparingly, the health risks associated with natural cane or beet sugar are far less than any of the sugar substitutes available.

        Splenda may be the best sugar substitute on the market currently, certainly in terms of taste, but I feel that the associated health risks, both known and suspected, would be too high a price to pay for the sake of saving a few calories.

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          30.09.2010 13:05
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          A healthy substitute if you're willing to pay extra

          I am hugely addicted to coffee and tea so when I recently started my new diet I was desperately searching through the supermarket for a substitute for sugar. I went through a few packets before I tried out Splenda and have to say this is the best choice in my opinion.

          ***What to expect***

          The taste is not that different from sugar. Of course, it isn't going to be that exact sweet taste you would get from real sugar but it still adds a satisfying taste to your beverage. When tasting it on its own, it has a more 'sherbety' taste to it but tastes more sugar like when mixed with food or drinks.

          Splenda is more powder like that normal sugar and froths and fizzes slightly when mixed in with your tea. It doesn't look very appetising in my opinion when first added as it reminds me of an aspirin in water but I can't imagine this to be something to stop you drinking it.

          ***Prices***

          It is fairly more expensive that normal sugar which is why I never purchased this before starting my diet, however, this product is far healthier that normal sugar so worth the money if you're watching your weight.

          ***Nutrition comparison***

          SPLENDA
          1 tsp = 0.5 gm carb = 2 calories
          one half cup = 12 gm carb = 48 calories
          1 cup = 24 gm carb = 96 calories

          Sugar
          1 tsp = 4 gm of carb= 16 calories
          one half cup = 96 gm of carb= 385 calories
          1 cup = 192 gm of carb = 770 calories

          ***Overall***

          I would recommend this product to those who are looking for a tasty sweetener but may suggest another product if you'd rather spend a little less.

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          09.09.2010 15:16
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          Nice taste and texture and can be used wherever you would use sugar.

          I have been a member of a product testing website called BzzAgent for a few years now. It is a site that sends out new products for us 'agents' to test and then we can talk (or create buzz) about them to friends and aquiantances. One of the things they sent me lately was this Spenda Granulated. It's a sugar substitute in a powdered form. You can also get Spenda Minis which are hard little pill sized bits and these are especially for adding to teas and coffees. The Granulated variety can be used in a much greater variety of ways such as in baking, over cereals and desserts and in place of icing sugar.

          I recieved the product in a 75 gram sized sturdy cardboard box. This has a handy plastic lid which flips open and clicks shut. It is a very secure container compared to the messy bags of sugar I normally have in my cupboard! There is a 'keep fresh' foil paper seal inside the box that you need to break open. This can be done by poking a spoon into it. I have noticed that supermarkets are now selling bigger cartons than the 75g size. The equivilent in sweetness to real sugar is written on the corner of the box in all cases. The bigger 125g box on sale is equivilent to 1.25kg of real sugar.

          Before trying this product I had used things like Hermasetas in hot drinks but I was always a bit cautious about using them as I didn't know what they were made of and whether they were truly safe to use. When I recieved the Splenda from Bzzagent it came with a handy guide telling me all about the product though. There is also now a brilliant website for the product which has an amazingly comprehensive FAQ regarding the ingredients and covering any concerns a consumer might have.

          There is a lot of information available about the product should you want to be informed but the main facts boil down to the following:

          One teaspoon of Splenda granulated is only 2kcal whilst one teaspoon of sugar is 20kcal.

          Splenda Granulated is made of sucralose, a substance that begins as sugar but is put through a factory process which reduces the calories. The body does not recognise sucralose as carbohydrate.

          Sucralose is totally safe to consume and no sucralose products have ever needed to be branded with health warnings. People with diabetes, children and pregnant women can also consume sucralose. It can help those on low-carbohydrate diets.

          Splenda sucralose is suitable for use in high temperature baking.

          When I first used this product I was astonished by the texture. It is a very fine, sparkly powder that reminds me of fake snow. Consistency wise it is more like icing sugar than hard granulated sugar. I first tried using this on cereal and the instant any liquid touches the powder it dissolves. It has no gritty texture like real sugar sometimes does on cereal. In this sense (texture) I prefer Splenda to real sugar. I noticed that when the powder gets wet it sort of sizzles a bit and takes on a life of it's own. It sort of reminds me of a Willy Wonka candy in this sense. I then tried dipping a damp finger into the powder just to see what would happen. It's very strange. The powder fizzes and actually goes warm for a second before completely melting. Hold your dipped finger against your lips to feel the full heat if you want to try this experiment! I would love to know how and why this happens! I then used the Splenda granulated in all sorts of dishes - cereals, yoghurts, hot drinks, sauces and desserts. I have also used it to make cakes. It's also great sprinkled over the top of cakes and cookies like you would use icing sugar.

          Although Splenda claim there is no difference in taste between this and real sugar I'd have to disagree. I think this has a much sweeter flavour and it reminds me of the sweetness of diet drinks and icing sugar. It's a lovely sweetness though and it actually suits me as I have a really sweet tooth! You can only properly taste this difference if you use the Splenda in things like cereal and over fruit. If you use it in baking and cooking where the sweet flavour is masked somewhat you can't tell that a sugar substitute has been used. In cakes where I've used Splenda there is no difference in the outcome of the cakes as regards to texture or shape.

          I have been using Splenda Granulated now ever since although it hasn't completely replaced my purchases of real sugar. I really enjoy using it with my breakfast cereal and to sweeten up any meals. I don't always use it in hot drinks as I feel it has more of a honey sweet flavour and can feel too strong. It's nice to know that I'm saving a few calories here and there. I'd recommend this to anyone wanting to maintain a healthy weight and to those who have a sweet tooth.

          Splenda have a membership based website where you can get tons of recipies and tips as well as learn all about the product range:

          www.splenda.co.uk

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          31.07.2010 16:28
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          a low calorie sugar alternative

          I am a member of a product testing site called Bzz Agent and my most reccent trial has been for Splenda.

          I was sent a box of Splenda granules and a little clicky box of Splenda sweet mini pills , this review will be focusing on the Splenda granules ( I will also be writing a review about the sweet minis ).

          The product comes in a carboard tyope container with a plastic lid, the contents a foil sealed at the top of the box for freshness. The box is yellow and has the word Splenda across the top in light blue writing and below are pictures of the yummy uses for Splenda such as cakes and hot drinks.

          The product itself is a powder which is used as a subsitute for sugar, I do prefer powdered sweetner over the pills because you have more control over how much you put in.

          The cost of the sweetener in Tesco is £2.00 for 75g and £3.17 for 125g. This sounds a little expensive I know when you consider that a 1kg bag of sugar costs around 69p, however I have found that this is quite a bit sweeter than sugar and you use much less of it in hot drinks for example
          .
          According to the Splenda website, the granules contain only 2 ingridients - maltodextrin and sucralose.

          As a Bzz Agent my job was to talk to people about the product and get their opinions and report back to Bzz about this, so I gave out some samples and I also used it as an opportunity to eat lots of cake!

          I made a cake using the Splenda granules in the place of sugar, I found this did not have any adverse effects on my baking, in the past I have used other sweeners such as store own brands and found that it makes my cakes go a bit sticky and once even foamy on the top so I was pleased to find the claims that Splenda was perfect for baking were well founded.

          The cake was a real hit with those who tried it, no-one noticed that I had substituted sugar for sweenener untill the end of the evening when I whipped out my samples and asked everyne to take it home and try it for themselves.

          I personally use very little sugar myself and do prefer sweetener because I am trying to lose weight, the exception to this is on things like strawberries where I do like to have some real sugar, however i decided to try out the sweetener on some stawberries the other day to see what it would be like and I have to say I am less than impressed. There was a bit of a bitter after taste when using Splenda in this way. A friend who I had given a sample to told me she had used it on her breakfast cereal and she also dislike the taste of it when used that way.

          I will definitely continue to use Splenda in my hot drinks and in baking because each teaspoon contains only 2 calories which is very low and will mean I will not have to miss out on so many treats, it will also be good to let the children have their home baked goodies made with Splenda because they are hyper enough without giving them sugary cakes and biscuits, so now I can subsitute the sugar for sweenener and not have to worry so much about how much sugar they have in their diet.

          I am giving Splenda granules 5 out of 5 stars because it is great for baking and hot drinks, however it is not so good when it is not mixed into something as it has a bit of a bitter taste.

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            20.07.2010 13:11
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            Low calorie sugar alternative

            In my capacity as a Bzzagent (I get to try new products and tell as many people as I can about them) I was sent a bundle of Splenda goodies. I was already familiar with Splenda from their sweeteners for hot drinks but I wasn't convinced about the granulated Splenda which can be used for sweetening hot drinks but which is also recommended as a direct substitute for conventional granulated sugar in baking (don't just substitute like for like, check the packet).

            Fortunately I like to bake but don't do as much as I'd like to so I didn't need too much of an excuse to get the scales out and grease a baking tin. I'm also trying to lose weight at the moment so this seemed like a good way to have something sweet and reduce the calories at the same time.

            Granulated Splenda comes in a cardboard container which has a resealable, tight-fitting plastic lid. The box I received had a use by date of February 2012 so you can see that, so long as you keep the container sealed, you've got quite a while to use it.

            I decided to try a recipe provided by Splenda for Apricot and Ginger Tea Bread. Spooning the Splenda from the container into the bowl on my kitchen scales it struck me how light the Splenda is, weighing virtually nothing on the spoon. When I saw that I had to add eight level tablespoons of Splenda I was not convinced, partly because it didn't seem enough given the quantities of the other ingredients, and I didn't think that such a small amount could give the sweetness the loaf needed.

            I was also sceptical about the cooking instructions which said to have the oven on Gas Mark 4 which seemed to me on the low side for a fairly dense cake. I was right to be suspicious as I had to cook the loaf for fifteen minutes more than the recipe stated. Gas Mark 5 would be more like it (but you may find you oven is fine on GM4).

            The cake was sampled that evening and I thought it was quite delicious. My only complaint would be that the top of the loaf didn't go as brown as it would have if it contained granulated sugar; always one to "jump in, read instructions later" I learned that Splenda suggest that if you particularly want your baked items to go brown you should give them a quick spray with cooking oil before putting them in the oven. Now, if I'm using the Splenda it's because I'm trying to be healthy so spraying my cake with oil (however fine the mist) doesn't appeal to me. I guess it would be just a matter of getting used to the idea of paler cakes.

            The other issue was that the loaf didn't rise as I thought it should have; the recipe demanded self raising flour, which I used, but didn't require baking powder. However, I read (afterwards of course) that the use of Splenda may mean your baked stuff doesn't rise so much as you're used to and to add half a teaspoon of baking powder if you wish.

            The taste test: you would never have known that it didn't contain sugar - but I did know so I had to get more views. Fortunately my colleagues loved the cake and not one of them realised that the cake used an artificial sugar product rather than conventional granulated sugar.

            The next thing to get the Splenda treatment was my homemade pizza sauce. I always add a teaspoon to this to take the tart edge off the tomatoes and Splenda worked just as well as the sugar.

            I usually add a teaspoon or two of sugar when stewing fruit and I was very doubtful that Splenda would be a good substitute; I found that only one level teaspoon of Splenda added enough sweetness to take reduce the acidity of the fruit.

            Finally I sprinkled just half a teaspoon over some bran flakes (although I long since stopped adding any sweetener to breakfast cereals and find I don't miss it at all). This was purely in the interests of research; unlike other artificial sweeteners I have tasted, this doesn't taste jarringly artificial. It's sweet, there's no doubt, but there's no chemical harshness.
            So, you might be seeing a pattern here. So far, Splenda has been a pretty good alternative to calorie laden granulated sugar, and having established, that it can quite nicely replace sugar in a variety of ways, it's time for some numbers. There are two calories in a level teaspoon of Splenda, whereas there are twenty in a tea spoon of sugar. For use in baking, one level tablespoon of Splenda is equivalent to 25 grams (one ounce) of conventional sugar.

            Splenda say on their packaging that the product is suitable for people on low carbohydrate diets and for people with diabetes. As this is an artificial sweetener that is designed to be used in larger quantities such as in baking, there are no warnings about excessive consumption having laxative effects as many other artificial sweetener manufacturers warn of.

            I know that some people will bring up the argument that these artificial sugars are bad for you; indeed, in the United States in particular there is a big campaign against sucralose, which is the artificial sweetener used in Splenda. Personally I am yet to be convinced that sucralose is harmful; as with all food stuffs, do your research and make your own mind up. I wouldn't be using such a large amount of Splenda that it would make me worry. If you already use lots of sugar and are thinking about using Splenda, I'd suggest you look into more natural ways of sweetnenng your food or try to add less sugar generally to get used to less sweetness.

            I will definitely be using Splenda on those occasions when I'd usually add a teaspoon or two of sugar to my recipe and after the success of the tea loaf I will be looking at more recipes on www.splenda.co.uk (where you can find the recipe for the delicious tea loaf pictured below). I'll be more cautious about using Splenda in my own recipes, but I will certainly experiment and see just how far I can use it.

            Tesco currently have Splenda on offer at £2.53 (in contrast with £3.17 at other supermarkets) for a 125gram box so it's a good time to try it for yourself.

            (Price quoted by www.mysupermarket.co.uk 07.05.2010)

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              14.06.2009 19:11
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              Of all the sweeteners, Splenda is probably one of the safest to consume

              Introduction:

              I am horrified to learn that there are still so many low calorie food products and drinks that still contain the aspartame compound. It is a toxic poison and is especially a no-no for diabetics, since their consumption of sweetener substitutes, out of necessity, may be greater than the average dieter.

              There are, according to an article I read in 2005, about 5000 products on the market containing the aspartame chemical, so it is exceptionally difficult to avoid consuming some whether or not you are diabetic or dieting.

              The one exception that I have come across, (there may be others) that do not contain those dangerous compounds, is SPLENDA a low calorie sweetener dispensed in either TABLET or a WHITE, GRANULAR form and therefore suitable for addition to cooking or drinks.

              Here are the reasons why I advocate SPLENDA:
              Anybody not interested in chemistry may, if they wish, skip the next paragraph.

              If you were warned, on a label of a consumable, that you would convert the contents of this product, when you eat/drink it, into formaldehyde which in turn is converted into formic acid (a chemical in the sting of fire ants) would you be so quick to eat or drink the product? If you were told on the label of diet soda that it is a chemically altered salt plus aspartame the combination of which actually heightens craving for carbohydrates, would you be so happy to drink diet sodas? Yet we all do to a greater or lesser degree each day.

              SPLENDA's sweetening agent is sucralose, not aspartame.

              I try now to buy products that do not claim to have "No added sugar." but even then there maybe some addition of artificial sweeteners. Fortunately, I am not a diabetic or overweight, so it must be doubly frustrating for those who are.

              I am not in favour of any low calorie sweetener, but any sweetener such as Splenda, that does NOT contain aspartame, must be , until proven otherwise, considered one of the safer substitutes and recommended as first choice.

              I saw, in Tesco, today that SPLENDA have now produced a granulated BROWN sugar.
              This I have bought to offer my visitors who normally use artificial sweeteners in their coffee ( and who often say they could have sugar - but dare not)
              I tried a spoonful in my coffee and was impressed at how similar to the real thing it was, certainly closer than - those other brands. No after taste either. However, I still do not think this a particularly safe alternative to sugar, just better than Aspartame.

              BUT, I still say real sugar (sucrose) is far more healthy and preferable than any artificial sweetener.

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                13.06.2009 09:47
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                A good alternative to sugar but no true substitute for the real thing.

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                TO SWEETEN OR NOT TO SWEETEN...
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                My life as a diabetic is ever so slightly complicated by my incorrigible sweet tooth. As real sugar in any appreciable quantity is firmly off the menu, I needed to find a reasonable substitute. I have tried honey and other natural sweetening agents, but that simply won't do for coffee or tea.

                That said, I am not prepared to trade the years I am putting back on my life expectancy in losing serious amounts of weight (four and a half stone and counting so far) - for other potential health complications (possibly cancer) - something for which artificial sweeteners seem to have developed a sinister reputation.

                For instance, there is a fair bit of uncertainty and controversy around the potential health hazards of the artificial sweetener aspartame, a compound that has been with us under many different brand names since the early 1970's. However, it seems whichever way I turn - for example Candarel, Muller Light yoghurt, Special K cereal bars, diet fizzy drinks or sugar free gum - aspartame is always lurking somewhere in the background.

                I am not here to take sides, or to try and distil decades of argument into a few sentences. Suffice it to say, just because the FDA or our own Department of Health have approved its use in foodstuffs, doesn't necessarily mean its OK - but the dogged debate and nagging doubt is enough for me to exercise a bit of caution. So it was with a sense of relief that I discovered Splenda - a sucralose-based low calorie sweetener.

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                SPLENDID SPLENDA
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                Splenda is the most commonly available sucralose-based sweetener in the UK, and is produced by Tate and Lyle. It comes in powder and tablet form. I tend to use it mainly for flavouring hot drinks, so prefer to use it in a 300 tablet dispenser, but my wife has started using it for cooking, so we also have the granulated/powder version at home. It tastes very much like sugar (but not quite the same) and is markedly less "chemical" tasting than my previous sweetener - Candarel - which is aspartame based.

                Splenda is "bulked up" with other ingredients (mainly lactose, dextrose and their derivatives) so that it approximates the sweetness of sugar in broadly equivalent measures. For instance, one tablet of Splenda takes the place of a teaspoon of sugar, and one teaspoon of the granulated/powder version of Splenda is the same as a teaspoon of sugar - which makes it very handy as a straight swap when cooking.

                Although the makers of Splenda take great pains to describe the product as "made from real sugar", it is not a natural product. Cooking and baking are, in essence, chemical reactions - and although Splenda does a splendid job as a sweetness substitute, it is a different compound and reacts slightly differently than sugar.

                Sometimes you can't get the same texture that real sugar would provide. For instance, when we bake blueberry muffins using granulated Splenda, the end product always ends up drier and fluffier than the more moist and dense results obtained using real sugar. It just goes to prove that there is nothing better than the real thing, and that Splenda - for all its claims - is a good substitute, no more, no less.

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                SO WHAT IS SUCRALOSE?
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                Sucralose is 600 times (yes, I do mean six hundred!) sweeter - ounce for ounce - than ordinary table sugar, and around 3 times sweeter than aspartame. However, unlike aspartame, it has a long shelf-life and also retains its integrity when heated, so it can be using in cooking and baking as a sugar substitute(aspartame breaks down and loses its sweetness).

                Sucralose is a British invention , discovered in the mid-1970's by sugar-makers extraordinaire Tate & Lyle in conjunction with scientists from Kings College London. However, it took until 2004 for it to approved for use in food by the European Union.

                ~~~~~~~~
                IS IT SAFE?
                ~~~~~~~~

                Due its relatively short period of approved use, there have been no long term human studies on the prolonged use of sucralose. So far, there has been no indications of any potentially adverse health effects, but it pays to keep an eye on things - after all saccharine was supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread until it was later connected with various cancers.

                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                PRICE & AVAILABILITY
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                Splenda is available in both forms - tablet and granulated - at most major supermarkets. Taking Tesco as an example, the 100 tablet dispenser (a handy pocket/handbag size) is £1.50 but the 300 tablet dispenser, which is only slightly larger in size, is much better value at £3.00.

                The granulated form is available in 75g (£2.12) and 125g (£3.19) sizes. On a like for like basis, this is clearly much more expensive than Silver Spoon granulated sugar (£0.93 per KILO) but ironically, you are paying more money for less calories.

                As of the date of this review (12.06.2009) some shops have 450 tablets for the price of 300 promotion packs, and the Splenda granulated version (both sizes) includes a free 100 tablet dispenser, plus a two coupons for 50p off your next purchase of granulated and tablet Splenda respectively.

                ~~~~~~~
                VERDICT
                ~~~~~~~

                My choice is relatively stark. I have to cut down on sugar, but I need a sweetener to replace it - especially for tea, coffee and baking/cooking. As, in my view, consuming aspartame over a prolonged period carries an unacceptable level of risk, sucralose - in its Splenda form, is my only real choice. Fortunately, at present, it seems like a pretty good - if limited - alternative.

                Recommended.

                © Hishyeness 2009

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                  15.01.2009 17:36
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                  A useful, tasty way to save calories where you'd normally use sugar

                  Since I'm constantly watching my weight, I've been using sugar replacements for most of my adult life. Unfortunately I only like tea and coffee sweetened and the same goes for any other hot drink such as chocolate, malt etc.

                  I've purchased many different brands of sweetener over the years, mainly the tablet variety. Sweeteners in this form are usually packed in small, easily dispensable and handily portable containers.

                  Sweeteners have always been surrounded by bad publicity, with various studies linking them to all sorts of nasty side effects. The latest research even claims that artificial sugar replacements can actually make us fat! Well, with the amount I consume, I certainly don't want to take a chance and revert to sugar. Now that, I know, would make me fat.

                  Saccharin, which is 300-500 times sweeter than sugar, Aspartame and Acesulfame-K around 150-200 times sweeter are the most common artificial sweeteners. Despite some scientists linking them a variety of disorders, they are all still approved as safe for human consumption.

                  Then along came Splenda. It was launched in the US in 2000 and the UK in 2002. Splenda endears itself to us with its much publicised catchphrase: "Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar". It's this affinity with sugar, which is seen as a natural product, that has helped ensure Splenda's prominent position among the available sweetener brands. This is because it's made with sucralose, which is a derivative of sugar rather than totally artificial. Sucralose is actually 600 times sweeter than sugar and is the only artificial sweetener ranked as 'safe' by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

                  One of the plus points for Splenda is its versatility. You can use it to replace sugar for nearly every instance you'd use sugar, including hot and cold drinks and baking.The only occasions you can't really substitute Splenda is where sugar is used for its bulk, say, for jam, or if it's needed to be caramelised.

                  Healthwise, it's obviously a good choice for those watching their calorie intake. Other dietary plus points are is suitability for diabetics and for those on a low carbohydrate diet.

                  It's available in two forms: tablet and granulated. It isn't pure sucralose which would be far too sweet for anyone's tastebuds. Instead, it's bulked out with other agents to make it palatable. The granulated form is combined with maltodextrin , a bulking agent derived from starch with sucralose making up 1% of the total product. The Splenda tablets contain 11% sucralose, with other ingredients made up from lactose (derived from milk), leucine, cross-linked sodium carboxymethyl cellulose.

                  Caloriewise, the tablets contain 0.2 calories each and the granulated has 2 calories per teaspoon. The granulated form of Splenda is available in 75g and 125g cardboard cans and the tablets in packs of 100, 300 or 500. The granulated is now also available as a brown sugar blend.

                  If you purchase the granulated Splenda, there is a handy conversion table on the packet, which provides a guide on how much Splenda you should use in place of sugar. For instance, where 50g of sugar is required in a recipe, you should use 4 tablespoons of Splenda.

                  I've been using Splenda since it first arrived on the supermarket shelves sometime in 2004 if I recall correctly. I regularly purchase both the tablet form and granulated forms of Splenda but I probably use the tablets most frequently. In all, I must get through around 12-16 tablets a day and I'm still around to tell the tale. They're very user friendly with the small plastic dispensing boxes comfortably fitting into your hand with a push in plastic button at the bottom that you press inwards. One press releases a single Splenda tablet equivalent to 1 teaspoon of sugar.

                  Tastewise, I think the Splenda tablets have a far superior sweet taste to other sweeteners and I always choose this brand. There's no bitter aftertaste and it's not too sweet. Each tablet is probably more closely related to the sweetness of a teaspoon of sugar than many other sweeteners. The only slight problem I've found is that they can take a few minutes to dissolve completely when added to a hot drink. Sometimes I've found the bottom of my drink is exceptionally sweet as when I'd initially stirred it, only part of the tablets had dissolved.

                  The granulated sweetener appears very similar to other granulated sweeteners already on sale. For instance, it looks and sprinkles pretty much the same as the Canderel powder but that's most likely because the bulking agent used for each is maltodextrin. When you sprinkle it on top of foods, it makes a slight crackling sound. If you sprinkle the powder onto a drink, it sits on top until you stir it in. It's very lightweight, seems to weigh nothing, and the slightest breath of air makes it blow away!

                  I use the granulated form to sprinkle on fruit such as strawberries or raspberries and also when I'm making custard. I've also used it to make biscuits and muffins and as an ingredient in many other desserts without any problems and no one has noticed I haven't used 'real' sugar. I don't use it on top of cereal, Weetabix, for example, because my kids like the crunch of the sugar on top. When Splenda granulated is sprinkled onto anything that's wet, say washed fruit, it gradually dissolves until you can no longer see it and leaves a sweet coating over the food.

                  ~~~Price and Availability~~~

                  Unfortunately for me, Splenda is more costly than most other sweeteners. The 75g and 125g cans cost around £2.20 and £3.50 respectively. The tablets cost £3.15 for 300 and £5.30 for 500. The brown formula is £2.99 for a 454g container.

                  Splenda is widely available in major supermarkets. It's also fast becoming the favoured sweetener on offer in many restaurants and coffee shops. For instance, Pret a Manger supplies packets of Splenda as the alternative for people not wishing to sweeten their drinks with sugar.

                  ~~~More on Splenda~~~

                  The Splenda website provides lots of interesting information about the company itself as well as providing many delicious recipes using Splenda. There's also a question page where you can ask any questions you may have about the product that haven't already been included in the list of 10 frequently asked questions. There is even a Splenda club, which is free to join via their website. You'll then find yourself receiving recipes in the post produced by Antony Worrall Thompson as well as occasional money off coupons. I was sent a nice A5 sized folder in which I can store the recipe cards they send me from time to time.

                  For further information see: http://www.splenda.co.uk/index.html.

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