Key Difference – Sucralose vs Aspartame
Artificial sweetener chemicals are marketed as safe alternatives to refined sugar. There seems to be a lot of confusion over the difference among artificial sweeteners. Both sucralose and aspartame are considered as artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is a methyl ester of the dipeptide and comprises of the L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine natural amino acids. Sucralose is a non-nutritive sweetener whereas aspartame is a nutritive sweetener. This is the key difference between sucralose and aspartame. In addition to that, unlike aspartame, sucralose retains its sweetness after being heated and has at least double the shelf life of aspartame. Therefore, sucralose has become more popular as an artificial sweetener ingredient. Changes in marketing and changing consumer preferences, along with these beneficial properties of sucralose, has caused aspartame to lose market share to sucralose. In 2004, aspartame traded at about $30/kg whereas sucralose traded at around $300/kg. In this article, let’s elaborate the difference between sucralose and aspartame regarding their intended uses as well as chemical and physical properties. Then we can identify which one is safer and more beneficial for health.
What is Sucralose?
Sucralose is a non-nutritive artificial sweetener because ingested sucralose cannot be broken down by the human gastrointestinal tract, so it does not contribute to gain caloric content. As a food additive, it is recognized under the E number E955. Sucralose is about 320 to 1,000 times as sweet as table sugar or sucrose. On the other hand, it is three times as sweet as aspartame and twice as sweet as saccharin. Unlike aspartame, it is stable under heat and over a wide range of pH conditions. Hence, it is mainly used in baking products or in products that need a longer shelf life. Taste, stability, and safety of sucralose are the major characteristics of commercial success of this artificial sweetener based products comparison to other low-calorie sweeteners. Sucralose is available under these common brand names such as Splenda, Zerocal, Sukrana, SucraPlus, Candys, Cukren, and Nevella.
What is Aspartame?
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute in some foods and beverages. It is a food additive, and its E-umber is E951. Aspartame is marketed under the brand names of Equal and NutraSweet. Current researches indicated that aspartame and its breakdown products are safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure. Therefore, it is approved by both U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority. However, aspartame breakdown products can synthesize phenylalanine, and it must be avoided by people with the genetic condition known as phenylketonuria (PKU). Aspartame is around 200 times sweeter than sucrose. As a result, although aspartame produces four kilocalories of energy per gram when digested, the quantity of aspartame required to produce a sweet taste is so lesser that its caloric impact is negligible. However, it is less suitable for baking than other sweeteners, because it breaks down when heated and loses much of its sweetness.
What is the difference between Sucralose and Aspartame?
The differences between sucralose and aspartame can be divided into following categories. They are
Sucralose: Non-nutritive, artificial and chlorinated sugar
Aspartame: Artificial, non-saccharide sweetener
Sucralose: Tri-chlorinated sucrose molecule
Aspartame: Methyl ester of dipeptide of the natural amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine
Sucralose: The selective chlorination of sucrose to substitutes three of the hydroxyl groups of sucrose with chlorine atoms
Aspartame: Using the natural amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine
Sucralose: 1.69 g/cm3
Aspartame: 1.347 g/cm3
Sucralose: 1,6-Dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-β-D-fructofuranosyl-4-chloro-4-deoxy-α-D galactopyranoside
Aspartame: Methyl L-α-aspartyl-L-phenylalaninate
Sucralose: 1′,4,6′-Trichlorogalactosucrose, Trichlorosucrose, 4,1′,6′-Trichloro-4,1′,6′-trideoxygalactosucrose, TGS
Aspartame: N-(L-α-Aspartyl)-L-phenylalanine, 1-methyl ester
Sweetness Compared to Sucrose:
Sucralose: Sucralose is about 320 to 1,000 times as sweet as table sugar or sucrose.
Aspartame: Aspartame is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose or table sugar, and the sugariness of aspartame lasts longer than that of sucrose. It is frequently mixed with other artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium in order to produce an overall taste more like sugar.
Sweetness Between Sucralose and Aspartame:
Sucralose: Sucralose is sweeter than aspartame. It is three times as sweet as aspartame.
Aspartame: Aspartame is less sweet than sucralose.
Sucralose: Sucralose is a non-nutritive sweetener because sucralose cannot be broken down by the body, so it does not contribute to caloric content.
Aspartame: Aspartame is a nutritive sweetener because aspartame is broken down by the body and produces 4 kcal per gram.
Sucralose: Splenda, Zerocal, Sukrana, SucraPlus, Candys, Cukren, and Nevella
Aspartame: NutraSweet, Equal, and Canderel
Sucralose: Sucralose is approval for use in food products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority.
Aspartame: Aspartame is approval for use in food products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority. But aspartame is not recommended for people with phenylketonuria.
Sucralose: Sucralose is not hydrolyzed in the small intestines
Aspartame: Aspartame is rapidly hydrolyzed in the small intestines and produced phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol
Adverse Health Effects:
Sucralose: Recommended amount of sucralose does not associate with adverse health effects
Aspartame: Not suitable for people suffering from phenylketonuria
Acceptable Daily Intake:
Sucralose: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Acceptable Daily Intake is 5 mg/kg of body weight
Aspartame: According to the European Commission ADI is40 mg/kg of body weight, whereas U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set its ADI for aspartame at 50 mg/kg
Self-life and Stability under heat and pH:
Sucralose: Sucralose is stable under heat and over a wide range of pH conditions. Thus, it is used in bakery products or in products that require a longer shelf life.Sucralose has at least doubled the shelf life of aspartame.
Aspartame: Aspartame is broken down under heat and loses much of its sweetness. Thus, it is less suitable for bakery products. The self-life of aspartame is less than that of sucralose.
Used as a Sweetener:
Sucralose: Candy, breakfast bars, soft drinks, canned fruits and bakery products
Aspartame: Diet soft drinks, fruit drinks, diet soda,instant breakfasts, mints, cereals, sugar-free chewing gum, cocoa mixes, frozen desserts, gelatin desserts, juices, laxatives, chewable vitamin supplements, milk drinks, pharmaceutical drugs and supplements, tabletop sweeteners, teas, instant coffees, topping mixes, wine coolers and yogurt
In conclusion, sucralose and aspartame are primarily artificial sweeteners that used as a sweetening agent. They are safe for diabetics and pre-diabetics patients’ consumption because they do not affect insulin levels. Also, they do not promote dental cavities, and these artificial sweeteners are also good for young children. However, still there is a controversial issue about the safety of the long-term consumption of these artificial sweeteners.
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Magnuson, B. A., Burdock, G. A. andDoull, J. (2007). Aspartame: a safety evaluation based on current use levels, regulations, and toxicological and epidemiological studies, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 37(8): 629–727.
1. “Rock-Candy-Sticks” by Evan-Amos – Own work. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Commons
2. “Diet Coke Products” by My100cans – Own work. [Public Domain] via Commons