Sugar Substitutes: are they healthy?

November 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Nutrition Tips

The next time you find yourself in a place like Starbucks, have a look at all the sugar substitute options you have to sweeten your coffee: Splenda (yellow package), Sweet’N Low (pink package), Equal (blue package)…but are these sweeteners safe for consumption?

The short answer is YES.  Each of these sweeteners are made from a different compound, but all have been extensively tested for their safety for human consumption.   But just how safe are they?

To establish a safe level of consumption or ‘Acceptable Daily Intake’ (ADI), each sweetener is administered to rats until things like chronic toxicity; carcinogenicity (cancer causing) and reproductive toxicity are detected.  In this way, a maximum level at which no negative side effects occurs is established and then the ADI level is usually set 100 times lower than that, usually measured in mg per kg body weight.  All well and good you say…but how much is that?


Sweetener Aspartame:  Equal



Spelnda (yellow)


Sweet’N Low


How much is safe? 50mg/kg body weight per day 5mg/kg body weight per day 11mg/kg body weight per day
Kelly as your example: I weigh 130lbs or 59kg I could have 2950mg of aspartame a day safely I could have 295mg sucralose a day safely I could have 649mg cyclamate a day safely
Okay…so how much is that? 15 cans of diet coke – per day 25 packages of Splenda or 3 tubs of sugar free yogurt – per day 46 packages of Sweet’N Low – per day

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that anyone drink 15 cans of diet coke per day.  But I am pointing out that even at 15 cans of diet coke per day, you would still be ingesting an amount of aspartame that is a factor of 100 times less than what is considered safe for consumption without adverse effects.

There are other sugar substitutes out there, and these levels may not be what is recommended if you are pregnant, but on the whole if you feel comfortable with these products the bottom line is you are not harming yourself by using them.  And if you think about the fact that 1Tbsp of honey is 60 calories, reaching for a 0 calorie Splenda instead will help you stick to your weight loss regime!