The Difference between Sucrose and Sucralose

Sucrose & Sucralose – Image: Composite of images by Edgar181, Wikimedia Commons.

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.

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.

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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9 Comments

  • 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…
      http://www.splenda.ca 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.

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