Aspartame Vs Sucralose: Which Is Healthy and Which to Avoid?

A spoonful of Sugar and sugar cubes on a wooden table. Aspartame vs sucralose

Aspartame and Sucralose are the two most common artificial sweeteners on the market, and they are commonly used as a sugar alternative to cut back on calories, without sacrificing taste. Many of these sugar substitutes are often found in beverages and processed items such as diet sodas, protein powders, baked goods, breathe mints, and chewing gum.

Both sucralose and aspartame have their advantages and disadvantages. However, recent research suggests that these artificial sweeteners may not be safe as they once were thought to be and could potentially cause health problems if consumed in large amounts over a long period of time [1].

Hence, why it’s important to be well informed about which artificial sweetener is best for you and to be mindful about how much you consume of them. It’s also important to note that not all artificial sweeteners are the same, so it’s worth understanding the differences between them before making a decision on which one to use- if you choose to use them of course.

In this article, we’ll be exploring the differences between aspartame and sucralose, their common uses, benefits, potential drawbacks, and some natural alternatives to these artificial sweeteners that may offer similar tastes and sweetness without any of the potential dangers.

Aspartame Vs. Sucralose: What Are They?

What Is Aspartame?

Aspartame is a popular artificial sweetener that was first approved by the Food and drug administration (FDA) in 1974 [2] and by Health Canada in 1981. Since its introduction, this sugar substitute has become a popular ingredient in a variety of food and drink items.

Aspartame is made up of two amino acids, phenylalanine, and aspartic acid, which are naturally found in protein-rich foods[4]. Aspartame is not heat stable [2,4], so it’s often used as a tabletop sweetener under the brand names, Nutrasweet®, Equal®, and Sugar Twin® [2] and is found in various food products such as diet soda, frozen dairy desserts, cereals, chewing gum, and breathe mints, as a way to provide sweetness without adding extra calories. It’s a low-calorie sweetener that is known for its intense sweetness, as it is approximately 200 times sweeter than table sugar [3,4], meaning that you can use less to get the same sweetness as sugar.

Although aspartame is commonly used by people with diabetes or those looking to reduce their blood sugar levels and sugar intake, recent studies have shown that excessive consumption of aspartame may have negative health effects- including a possible link to cancer in people.

What is Sucralose?

Sucralose is another artificial sweetener sold under the name Splenda [2,5], that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in food and beverages. Sucralose was first approved by Health Canada in 1991[6] and then by the FDA as a general-purpose sweetener for foods in 1999 [2].

Sucralose is a high intensity sweetener that is made from real sugar, through a chemical process called chlorination, which involves adding chlorine atoms to sugar molecules[4].

The addition of chlorine atoms makes sucralose 600 times sweeter than table sugar, allowing for a lower quantity to be used to achieve the desired level of sweetness.

Sucralose is non-nutritive, meaning it provides no calories or nutrients when consumed, and is heat stable, making it a widely used option for baked goods. It’s also widely used in various food products, including low-calorie soft drinks, tabletop sweeteners

Despite its popularity, the safety of sucralose has been a topic of debate, with some concerns raised about its potential health risks, including disruptions in gut health.

Aspartame vs Sucralose: Potential Benefits

Both aspartame and sucralose can pose some potential benefits, especially for those that are focused on weight loss, or those restricting their caloric and/or sugar intake.

Low Caloric Content

Aspartame is a low-calorie, or nutritive sweetener and contains 4 calories per gram [4]. Aspartame is often used in low-calorie beverages such as diet sodas and cereals to help sweeten foods, without the extra calories.

Sucralose, unlike other artificial sweeteners, is not metabolized by the body, which means that it provides zero calories and is considered a non-nutritive sweetener. Additionally, it’s been reported that sucralose does not affect blood sugar levels or insulin levels in the body, making it very appealing for those trying to watch their weight and/or watch their caloric and sugar intake due to health reasons such as diabetes or glucose intolerance.


Although aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, the taste is not identical to that of real sugar. The flavour may take a bit longer to appear and it can also have a distinct aftertaste. However, this slight difference in taste can vary from person to person.

Unlike aspartame, sucralose is derived from real sugar and is about 600 times sweeter than sugar, and offers a sweet, sugar-like taste without any weird aftertaste. Many find this sweetener to closely mimic the taste of real sugar, making it a popular choice in food and beverages.

Due to its intense sweetness, only a tiny amount is needed to achieve the desired sweet taste, making it desirable among those watching their caloric or sugar intake. In addition, unlike aspartame, sucralose is heat stable, making it ideal to use in baked goods.

Aspartame vs Sucralose: Health Risks and Safety Concerns

Despite the benefits of these low-calorie sweeteners, and being deemed safe for human consumption as food additives by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Health Canada, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), new emerging research suggests a direct association between an increased risk of cardiovascular disease with artificial sweeteners[1] and certain cancers.

Potential Adverse Health Effects of Aspartame

Aspartame has been widely studied, and while it is approved for use by regulatory agencies, it is currently being re-evaluated due to emerging health concerns.

Aspartame poses as a health risk to individuals with the rare genetic condition, phenylketonuria (PKU). This is because the amino acid found in aspartame, phenylalanine, cannot be metabolized by individuals with PKU. [3] Therefore, those with PKU must refrain from consuming aspartame.

Secondly, when aspartame is digested, it produces metabolites that are toxic to the liver and the brain and could potentially lead to other health complications [3].

Research in animals has also suggested a link between aspartame consumption and an increased risk of cancer [7], as well as cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and stroke. Specifically, one study found that there was an association between an increased risk of cerebrovascular events with aspartame.[1]

Therefore, while aspartame may be a low-calorie alternative to sugar, it is important to consider the potential health risks before consuming it.

Although there have been studies linking aspartame consumption with various health risks, more research needs to be conducted in order to draw definitive conclusions.

Potential Adverse Health Effects of Sucralose

Similarly, sucralose has undergone a thorough examination, and although approved for consumption, there are health concerns to consider.

Several studies have raised questions about its impact on gut health, with some suggesting possible digestive disturbances.

A recent study examined the effects of a small amount of sucralose (0.0003 mg/mL) on mice. Surprisingly, the mice did not gain weight, but the sucralose did alter their gut microbiome. It caused harmful bacteria to increase and beneficial bacteria to decrease [11].

This disruption in the gut’s natural balance can cause inflammation and potentially increase the risk of various health problems. Having a healthy gut microbiome is important in order to maintain a well-balanced immune and preventing diseases and maintaining overall health.

In addition, findings from a recent study found that sucralose is associated with increased coronary heart disease risk.

While these concerns warrant attention, it’s essential to present a fair assessment of the sweetener’s health effects, acknowledging both positive and potentially negative aspects, as new research is emerging.

Weight Management

When it comes to weight management, both aspartame, and sucralose are artificial sweeteners that offer low-calorie alternatives to sugar. However, their effects on weight loss have been a subject of debate.

Conflicting research findings exist regarding the impact of artificial sweeteners on appetite and cravings. Some studies suggest that they may increase appetite and cravings for sugary foods, potentially leading to higher calorie consumption and weight gain. However, the overall evidence is mixed and further research is needed to fully understand the effects of artificial sweeteners on appetite regulation.

Which Is Healthier? Aspartame vs Sucralose

Aspartame and sucralose are two popular sweeteners that are commonly used as sugar substitutes in various food and beverage products. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to health.

Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener that is slightly sweeter than sugar and provides a rather different taste, that can vary from person to person.

It provides a sweet taste without adding many calories and does not significantly raise blood sugar levels. This makes it a suitable option for people with diabetes or those watching their daily calorie intake. However, some studies have linked aspartame to adverse health effects, including an increased risk of cancer in people who consume it in large quantities.

Sucralose, on the other hand, is a non-nutritive sweetener that is derived from sugar. Despite being non-caloric, sucralose can still provide a similar level of sweetness to table sugar. Although it was once believed to not affect blood sugar levels, new research is suggesting otherwise. In addition, there are now growing concerns about the safety of sucralose due to limited long-term human studies.

It is important to note that although both aspartame and sucralose have been deemed safe for human consumption by various regulatory bodies, recent findings are now suggesting otherwise.

The FDA recommends that individuals should not consume more than 50 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg/day) and no more than 5 mg of sucralose per kilogram of body weight each day.

Further studies are needed to fully understand the potential risks associated with their long-term use.

Ultimately, the choice between aspartame and sucralose ultimately depends on individual preferences and health considerations. As with any food additive, moderation is key and it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

I say if you can manage without it, then manage without it.

However, if go going sweetener free is not your thing, then try opting for a natural alternative such as raw organic honey, molasses, dates, and/or syrup.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to take a balanced approach when evaluating sugar substitutes. While they may have benefits over traditional sugar, some artificial sweeteners can still cause potential health risks that are worth considering.

As always, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice. Be sure to read labels carefully and opt for natural alternatives whenever possible.

With a few simple tweaks, you can reduce your sugar intake while still enjoying the sweet things in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sucralose or aspartame better for diabetics?

Sucralose and aspartame are two popular artificial sweeteners that offer a sweet taste, without extra calories.

Although it was once believed that both artificial sweeteners do no harm to blood sugar levels, a study done in mice suggests that aspartame can cause glucose intolerance and spike your blood sugar levels. [9]

Additionally, findings from a randomized controlled trial found that sucralose causes an increase in blood sugar concentration, and decreases insulin clearance, meaning that your blood sugar levels can remain higher for a longer period of time.[10]

Furthermore, some studies have suggested that the consumption of sucralose and aspartame may contribute to weight gain and adverse effects on metabolism.

Current recommendations suggest that people with diabetes should limit their consumption of artificial sweeteners, including sucralose and aspartame, and opt for natural sweeteners in moderation. If you are diabetic, it is important to work closely with healthcare professionals to determine the appropriate use of sweeteners in your diet.

  1. Debras C, Chazelas E, Sellem L, Porcher R, Druesne-Pecollo N, Esseddik Y et al. Artificial sweeteners and risk of cardiovascular diseases: results from the prospective NutriNet-Santé cohort BMJ 2022; 378 :e071204 doi:10.1136/bmj-2022-071204
  3. Czarnecka, K., Pilarz, A., Rogut, A., Maj, P., Szymańska, J., Olejnik, Ł., & Szymański, P. (2021). Aspartame—True or False? Narrative Review of Safety Analysis of General Use in Products. Nutrients, 13(6).
  4. Chattopadhyay, S., Raychaudhuri, U., & Chakraborty, R. (2014). Artificial sweeteners – a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 51(4), 611-621.
  6. Qin, X. (2011). What made Canada become a country with the highest incidence of inflammatory bowel disease: Could sucralose be the culprit? Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, 25(9), 511.
  7. Landrigan, P.J., Straif, K. Aspartame and cancer – new evidence for causation. Environ Health 20, 42 (2021).
  8. Moriconi, E., Feraco, A., Marzolla, V., Infante, M., Lombardo, M., Fabbri, A., & Caprio, M. (2020). Neuroendocrine and Metabolic Effects of Low-Calorie and Non-Calorie Sweeteners. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 11, 525620.
  9. Ruiz-Ojeda, F. J., Plaza-Díaz, J., Sáez-Lara, M. J., & Gil, A. (2019). Effects of Sweeteners on the Gut Microbiota: A Review of Experimental Studies and Clinical Trials. Advances in Nutrition, 10(Suppl 1), S31.
  10. Pepino MY, Tiemann CD, Patterson BW, Wice BM, Klein S. Sucralose affects glycemic and hormonal responses to an oral glucose load. Diabetes Care. 2013 Sep;36(9):2530-5. doi: 10.2337/dc12-2221. Epub 2013 Apr 30. PMID: 23633524; PMCID: PMC3747933.
  11. Zheng, Z., Xiao, Y., Ma, L., Lyu, W., Peng, H., Wang, X., Ren, Y., & Li, J. (2022). Low Dose of Sucralose Alter Gut Microbiome in Mice. Frontiers in Nutrition9, 848392.

Similar Posts