Wednesday, September 22, 2004



Here is some information on the sugar substitute Splenda. From my standpoint, I am more concerned about how it works in baking than if you should put it in your coffee or not. The answer seems to be that its fine for drinks, but for baking you may want to avoid it.

Splenda is a no-calorie, no-carbohydrate sweetener whose sweetness doesn't change when it's heated. It can be used in cooking and baking and the manufacturer claims it is made from sucrose, a natural sugar.

How is that?

Chlorine is added to the sucrose, and a chemical reaction changes the sucrose molecule to replace some of the hydrogen-oxygen groups with chlorine. That prevents the body from metabolizing it in the same way as it does sugar. This also allows Splenda to state on the label that it's "made from sugar," suggesting that it's natural. Which it is not.

The addition of chlorine also has provoked critics to call it a chlorocarbon, sometimes found in pesticides.

Splenda is neither natural nor a pesticide. It's a new chemical. Studies have shown that it causes no immediate health problems, but most of these studies have been done by the manufacturer, and no one yet knows what long-term ingestion of large amounts might do over a lifetime.

Sweeteners substitute a non-nutritive food for one that has vitamins and other nutrients -- for example, a Splenda muffin might have the same number of carbs as an apple, but the apple is better for you.

But how does it taste? Well, it seems the sweetness seems block other flavors and linger in the mouth long -- even hours -- after the food is gone.

And in baking? Splenda brownies come out flat, dense as a board, incredibly dry and tasteless, but with a sweet aftertaste. It makes ice cream so hard it brakes into shards when scooped, and custard that looks like scrambled eggs. Overall it just doesn't perform as well, and it doesn't have the taste or the texture of sugar, and the trade-off in pleasure delivered by a sweet treat isn't worth it.

The most popular pizza topping in Australia is eggs.
In Chile the most popular topping is mussels and clams,
in the United States, pepperoni and
in Japan, squid.

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