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?