Splenda Essentials

Splenda-Essentials.png(source)




I usually like to keep this blog a place where I chit chat about my food life through recipes, restaurants, food tours, traveling, and conferences. And if I want to share my opinion about a specific food, or stand on my soapbox to talk about a nutrition issue, well, I save that for paying clients. But some things I just can’t keep to myself because they just get under my skin and irritate me far too much. If you’ve ever heard me rant about my hatred for Vitamin Water (glorified soda), you know what I’m talking about.

But today I want to take a moment to share with you my absolute disgust with Splenda. You know, that artificial sweetener that is “Made from real sugar, contains no calories, and is proven to be safe?” My blood is boiling just thinking about it. Let me back up by sharing my views on artificial sweeteners in general: they’re artificial. They’re substances that our body does not know how to process. They’re not found in nature the way that real sugar, or blueberries or salmon is. They’re chemically made, just like plastic is chemically made, and we don’t go around sweetening our coffee with plastic, do we? (Though BPA in plastic is a topic for another day…) Yes, every once in a blue moon I’ll drink a diet soda, which contains artificial sweeteners. But I don’t let myself get fooled by deceiving health claim marketing, and don’t want you to either.

Back to Splenda. It infuriates me to read claims that they’re safe when I’ve had personal, very negative side effects after eating it (supreme gastric upset) and know others who have suffered everything from debilitating migraines to gynecological issues after sweetening with Splenda, which cleared up immediately once they stopped. But Splenda has now taken it a little TOO far with the new Splenda Essentials, which contain “a small boost of healthy nutrients – B vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.” Let’s examine a little closer, shall we?

Splenda Essentials with fiber: They contain 1 gram of fiber. ONE TEENY GRAM! Do you know where else you can get one gram of fiber? Three strawberries. A teaspoon of flax. About three bites of a slice of whole wheat bread. A bite of beans. Why on earth do you need to add 1g of fiber and fake sugar to your coffee when you can eat a plethora of fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains to help you easily reach your goal of 25-35g per day?

Splenda with Antioxidants: Each packet contains 20% of the Daily Value of antioxidant vitamins C and E. The website claims this is a “Sweet, simple way to get vitamins like those found in fruits & vegetables.” Um…why not just eat fruits and vegetables? Vitamin C isn’t hard to come by, either, so you sure don’t need to scrape up extra sources of it in fake sugar. Have some bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries or OJ and you’ll not only meet but exceed 20% of the daily value for vitamin C. For vitamin E, try some almonds or peanut butter. Nothing artificial there.

Splenda with B Vitamins: Each packet contains 20% of the Daily Value of vitamins B1, B5, and B6 which Splenda claims is an “Easy way to help support a healthy metabolism.” Yes B vitamins metabolize and break down food (carbs, fat, protein) so your body can use it for energy, but its not going to spike your metabolism and lead to magic weight loss! Worried you’re not getting enough B vitamins? You are if you’re eating a variety of foods, to include whole-grain cereals, rice, nuts, milk, eggs, meats, fish, fruits, leafy green vegetables and more.

What’s my bottom line? Eat real foods. When you want to use a sweetener, stick with regular ‘ol sugar. Yes it contains calories. No it doesn’t have fiber, antioxidants, or any other nutrients, and it’s not supposed to. But it’s also not chemically, artificially processed and it’s something your body recognizes. If you want to boost your intake of fiber, antioxidants and nutrients, make sure you’re eating a varied diet with an emphasis on whole, plant foods. That’s what’s really essential.

21 Comments

  1. Jess
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    booyah. exactly what michael pollan means when he says “food-like substances.”

  2. Posted July 29, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Totally agree. I actually have a friend who works for a marketing company and this is one of her clients. Ugh.

  3. Posted July 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    What bugs me most about it is their new commercial with a woman pouring Splenda over strawberries. What does it say about our society that we need to add artificial sweetener to strawberries?

  4. Janel
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh but surely she wasn’t adding splenda to sweeten her strawberries. Duh…she was adding Splenda Essentials to give her strawberries more fiber and antioxidants!

  5. Posted July 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Two words: Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
    That’s the debilitating skin condition that Splenda gave me. Funny how it cleared up after I stopped eating Splenda, even though dermatologists told me I would have it for the rest of my life.
    Dr. Mercola goes a step further in his hatred of Splenda: he says in his book ‘Sweet Deception’ that sucralose breaks down into chlorine in our bodies. Yum.
    Finally, someone who hates Splenda as much as I do. I have almost been kicked out of various Starbucks for bitching at the customers who use it.

  6. Janel
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Wow – it’s just unreal. I’m so glad it went away when Splenda did!

  7. Posted July 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous post! People don’t understand that adding chemicals, whether they are “proven safe” or not, to our bodies is never a good idea. So many “dieters” have been deceived that they can use artificial sweeteners to help them lose weight. We need to start helping people realize that better health is more important and that will come through eating real food. Thank you!

  8. Posted August 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Ugh! I saw this recently and it sent me into a heart attack!!! I don’t understand how this can continue to stay on our shelves. It doesn’t make sense!

  9. Posted August 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Luckily, I don’t have a taste for Splenda or any other types of artificial sweeteners, so I don’t use them. I too think it is ridiculous to add fiber to something like Splenda, similar to adding vitamins to Diet Coke (Diet Coke Plus). We should be getting our nutrients from whole foods! Yes, you may be able to eat an additional 5 or 10 grams of fiber with packets of Splenda, but you miss out on many health benefits when you skip the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Great post!

  10. Posted August 2, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the review of the new “essentials” line. I wasn’t aware that these were out. Pretty pathetic product, but they obviously have great advertising. Keep up the good work.

  11. Philip
    Posted August 4, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Hi, Janet: Just saw an ad for Splenda Essentials on TV. Couldn’t believe it!
    I googled it and got to your web site.
    I agree with you completely – natural, whole foods are the only way to go to be truly healthy.
    One minor plus for them, I am impressed that they have a decent amount of the nutrient in each package. 20% of the daily requirement in a packet of sweetener is not bad. I was expecting to find 1% or 2%. I don’t agree with getting nutrients this way, but if it is the only way a person gets any nutrients, it may be better than nothing.
    On a side note, I think you are too favorable about sugar. Table sugar is a highly refined product that is right at the top end of the glycemic index scale. Suger is a carbohydrate, the one with the highest glycemic index. We shouldn’t be eating it, period.
    The human body developed over millions of years consuming around 4 to 8 lb of sugar a year, all from natural sources – mainly fruits and vegetables. Now north americans consume around 80 lb of processed pure sugar each year.
    On top of that most of the other carbohydrates they eat are highly refined, pushing them high up on the glycemic index.
    Is it any wonder we have an epidemic of obesity.

  12. Posted August 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for posting this. Those claims are ridiculous. I stick to stevia for my sweetener!

  13. Posted August 8, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    I have done some research on Splenda and it is pretty nasty how the stuff is made. Sucrose is chlorinated in a lab with a gas called “phosgene” which renders it indigestible and therefore non-nutritive. Before it can become Splenda®, it has to be treated further with methanol to produce sucralose. Gross. I’ll stick to food that wasn’t made in a lab, thank you very much. Also I have found quite a bit of interesting stuff on artifical sweetners in general that say, foods that taste sweet but have no calories fail to trigger neurobiological responses for satiety. This may lead to increased appetite and weight gain. So really you might as well eat sugar! Thanks for posting! Great job!

  14. Betty
    Posted August 11, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Splenda Essentials with B vitamins is terrible. I just wasted a perfectly good glass of iced tea by using this. It has a horrible vitamin taste to it. I usually don’t comment on products but save your money on this one. By the way thanks for the great comments. I think I’ll drink my tea unsweetened from now on.

  15. Brooke
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad someone else feels the same way I do. Great post! Do you remember when the girls at camp would use anywhere from 10-20 packets of Splenda per meal? I cringe at the thought.

  16. Janel
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Yes! That’s the first and last time I ever ate splenda because it totally wrecked my stomach, but within a day of cutting it out, I was totally fine! Scary this stuff is even on the market. Amazing we survived the summer at camp 😉 How are you!?

  17. Brooke
    Posted August 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m doing well. I’m working for MyFoodDiary.com based out of Lexington, KY and my boss was having me do some research to find new articles for us to post on our Twitter account and ironically I ran across your blog! I was so happy to find it!

  18. B
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Ok. Agree with the negatives about Splenda, etc! But where is the protests about the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the drinks? It is not sugar in there, but HFCS (the stuff that goes directly into fat)! HFCS here, HFCS there, HFCS everyshere (look at the labels, people)!

  19. Janel
    Posted August 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Haha I totally agree, B, but this post was just focused on Splenda Essentials. I’d need a whole other one for HFCS!

  20. Jean
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Do you have a proofreader/editor for your commercial drafts? “more healthy” !!! How about healthier?

  21. Janel
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

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