The Difference between Sucrose and Sucralose

Sucrose & Sucralose

What is the difference between sucrose and sucralose? Sucrose is the name for ordinary table sugar, the white granulated stuff millions of people have put on their cereal and in their coffee for endless decades. Sucralose, on the other hand, is an artificial sweetener. Their names are almost identical—is this mere coincidence? We’ll soon see.

At First Glance

The chemical formula of sucrose is C₁₂H₂₂O₁₁: carbon – twelve atoms, hydrogen – twenty-two atoms, and oxygen – eleven atoms. It is the layout of the atoms—the structure—that defines the compound, however. The structures for sucrose and for sucralose are seen at left. Notice their similarity.

But There IS a Difference

The main difference is the replacement of three hydroxy groups (-OH) by chlorine atoms. There is one small additional difference. Notice that in sucrose, the hydroxy group at the left that is replaced by chlorine in sucralose has its attachment to the ring drawn dashed, whereas the same bond in the case of sucralose is solid.

Since molecules are 3-dimensional, whereas paper is 2-dimensional, the dashing is meant to indicate the bond points below the plane of the paper, but when the bond is solid, it is pointing up above the paper.

Replacing three –OH groups with –Cl changes the chemical formula of sucrose into C₁₂H₁₉O₈Cl₃. So what are the benefits to using sucralose over sucrose?

Little sucralose is metabolized in the human digestive tract, meaning it passes out, unchanged, in the urine. Absorption is nil—meaning calorie intake is essentially zero, zilch, nada. In addition, sucralose is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar—very little is required.

Now you know the difference between sucrose and sucralose. Which will you choose?

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  • Ryan Reply

    If nothing from sucralose is absorbed, then how does this sweetener have such an effect on the body?

    • Vincent Summers Reply

      Hi, Ryan, and thanks for visiting. That’s the point. It doesn’t have much effect at all on the body. It merely stimulates the taste receptors.

  • Ryan Reply

    Then why do people get migrain[e]s and/or other allergic reactions?

  • JM Banua Reply

    Hello… Is it sucralose [that is] dangerous to our health?

    • Vincent Summers Reply

      Hi, JM… says: “Clinical studies have shown that sucralose does not affect blood glucose levels, insulin, or HbA1c…People with diabetes simply need to carb count if more than 4 packets or more than 8 teaspoons of SPLENDA®No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated are consumed at one time.”

  • Daniel Reply

    Referring back to JM Banua, in your personal opinion, is Sucralose harmful to the body in [either the] short-term [or the] long-term?

  • Sanjay Kumar Reply

    Stevia can be a suitable alternate of Sucralose, sucrose and fructose.

  • Jade Reply

    I have found that when consuming items with sucralose and/or aspertame my stomach reacts very negatively (instant IBS symptoms). I am now in a food science program and have learned that my intolerance to it seems to be baseless. I have a theory that since only the sweetness is affected, perhaps the flaw is in the consumption of something so sweet. I’m not in medicine so I don’t know how the tongue affects the rest of the digestive course. Perhaps the body prepares for an amount of fructose, glucose that it doesn’t receive? It’s undeniable that select people do react worse to some sweeteners than others. I would like to know why.

    • Jade Reply

      I forgot I’d even had this idea as I was just learning about sweeteners. I can tell you, not even 1 year later, that I am only more firm in my belief that aspartame and sucralose are not things to worry about. I’m actually embarrassed about all previous comments I’ve made. Previous to my scientific college endeavours I was young and naive and didn’t consider evaluating sources properly. I had a blind faith many people have: that if it wasn’t true, it wouldn’t be published in popular places and that there must be some sort of protection that takes down incorrect information. I thought surely if so many people are saying it, it must be true. I also had a well meaning but extremely misinformed nutrition prof in my first year who was throwing every conspiracy theory possible at us, stirring up doubt. She actually got a standing ovation on her last day. I thought, surely a college would pull her from teaching if she were teaching false information (apparently they don’t, It’d be too hard to throw in a new prof without prep). I now know the authors, citations, credentials and publisher are all things that should be considered when evaluating a source. It’s not enough to say so or simply have citations, they have to be good ones.

      My Conclusion: I can now suck back Coke Zero like it’s the nectar of the Gods to satisfy excessive sweet cravings. I understand though that by consuming zero calorie options, I will not get that full or satisfying feeling. I will be more likely to crave substantial foods more so if I attempt to satisfy hunger with zero calorie options. Zero calories alternatives usually do not create the same mouthfeel as regular sugar would. Those IBS symptoms were a placebo. Now if I get a sore stomach after consuming artificial sweeteners, I know it’s probably because my body wanted substance, not empty filler.

  • Jill Tweed Reply

    I have severe reactions when I consume any product that contains any artificial sweeteners, especially sucralose. I lose my balance, my vision, and I become extremely nauseated; I feel as if I’ve been poisoned. I don’t believe that a compound that is so innocent can cause such a severe reaction in some people. Comments welcomed.

    • Vincent Summers Reply

      I can understand, and firmly believe, that there are people who are allergic to specific artificial sweeteners. We are all different. Our body chemistry reacts differently. But (and I am speaking in all candor) I find it hard to believe anyone has severe reactions to EVERY artificial sweetener. Certainly, it would be at least MOST unusual.

  • Karin Fiscella Reply

    For a few years I have consumed splenda in fairly large quantities. Just recently I stopped using it and switched back to sugar. Strange as it seems, sugar no longer tastes sweet. It almost tastes bitter. Has anyone else heard of that?

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