The biggest difference between zero-calorie sugar substitutes Splenda and stevia is that stevia is marketed as a natural substitute. Splenda is the brand name for a sucralose-based artificial sweetener derived from sugar and is supposed to taste just like sugar. Stevia refers to a sweetener made from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, and although marketed as natural, it is still manufactured from the plant. Stevia is most popularly sold under the brand names Truvia and PureVia.
|What it is||Splenda is a sucralose-based artificial sweetener and a sugar substitute.||Stevia is a sweetener and sugar substitute made from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana.|
|Composition||95% dextrose, maltodextrin, small amount of sucralose||Steviol glycosides isolated from plant|
|Purpose||Used by diabetics or weight watchers to reduce calories and sugar content.||Used by diabetics or weight watchers to reduce calories and sugar content.|
|Safe for diabetics||Yes, for insulin; side effects of chemical additives outside insulin.||Yes.|
|Calories||Each packet has less than 1 gram of carbohydrate and less than 5 calories, which meets FDA's standards for no-calorie foods. 10 grams of Splenda contains 33 calories (compared to 39 in 10 grams of table sugar).||0 calories|
|Forms||Granular, tablet||Fresh leaves, dried leaves, white powder, liquid concentrate|
|Taste||Very similar to sugar.||Slower onset and longer duration than sugar, 300 times sweeter than sugar, may be bitter or licorice-like.|
|Uses||Splenda is used both in beverages and desserts, as it comes closer to tasting like sugar than Equal.||Commercial drinks sweetener, drinks sweetener, can be used in baking|
|Approved by the FDA||1991 in Canada; 1998 in US||2008 in US, as food additive|
|Manufacturer||Brand name Splenda, from British Tate & Lyle, American Johnson & Johnson||Morita Kagaku Kogyo Co., brand name Truvia from Coca-Cola|
Splenda comes in granular form and as tablets. Splenda is sweet and is marketed as tasting like sugar, though some users report being able to tell the difference.
Stevia comes as fresh leaves, dried leaves, white powder and a liquid concentrate. In its powder or concentrated liquid form, the sweetness has a slower onset and longer duration than sugar. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar. The leaves may taste bitter or like licorice.
Both Splenda and stevia are used as commercial drinks sweeteners, artificial sweeteners and in baking. Splenda directly replaces table sugar in baking. Bakers using stevia need to refer to a conversion table because of its sweetness.
Splenda is composed primarily of dextrose and maltdextrin, both of which are digestible. Sucralose is indigestible, which means it is not absorbed into the body. As such, sucralose is safe as a diabetic sugar substitute. The FDA lists 0.6 grams of sucralose as being safe for adult consumption. That translates into 31 grams of Splenda. A serving size is one gram. Sucralose is safe for diabetics, but diabetics need to be wary of products containing Splenda as they may have other harmful additives.
Stevia has been found to have some medicinal qualities, such as possible anti-hyperglycemic, anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-diarrheal, diuretic and immunomodulatory effects. However, stevia is not used in traditional medicine. Stevia can have side effects such as nausea, bloating, dizziness, muscle pain and numbness. The FDA lists four milligrams per kilo of body weight as safe for adult consumption, or 330 milligrams for an adult. Stevia is safe for diabetics.
The video below compares stevia with Truvia, considered one of the most popular stevia brands but which is actually a mixture of ingredients other than stevia:
The FDA has conducted numerous studies  concerning Splenda and sucralose, all concluding a lack of risk, which led to its approval. A 2008 Duke University study found consumption of sucralose had marked effects in the digestion process in rats, but no such similar effects have been reported in humans.
The FDA is still conducting studies on stevia. It has been approved as a food additive. A 2010 European Food Safety Authority concluded that there is no risk of toxicity in using stevia as a sweetener.
According to the National Institute of Health , studies have confirmed the safety of artificial sweeteners, while also showing some undesirable effects. Sugar substitutes are thoroughly investigated for safety with hundreds of scientific studies and then approved by different regulatory authorities like the FDA.
In Britain the company Tate & Lyle manufactures Splenda, as does Johnson & Johnson in the United States. Splenda is composed of 95 percent dextrose and maltodextrin. A small amount of the remaining composition is made up of sucralose, or chlorinated sucrose molecules.
Stevia is produced in Japan by the Morita Kagaku Kogyo Company. It is also produced as an additive and a sweetener under the brand name Truvia by the Coca-Cola Company. Stevia is composed of steviol glycosides isolated from the stevia plant.
Scientists at Tate & Lyle discovered sucralose in 1976. They were testing methods of using sucrose and its synthetic derivatives, and they discovered how sweet sucralose is by accident. They patented the discovery in 1976. Sucralose in its Splenda composition was approved in the United States as an artificial sweetener in 1998 and introduced in 1999. It is currently approved in more than 80 countries.
The stevia plant has been in use for 1,500 years. People in Brazil and Paraguay have used stevia leaves to sweeten herbal trees and as a sweet treat. It has also been used in folk medicine. The Japanese Morita Kagaku Kogyo Company was the first to commercially produce stevia as an artificial sweetener, releasing it in 1971. Stevia became approved in the United States as a food additive in 2008.
- Wikipedia: Splenda
- Wikipedia: Stevia
- Artificial Sweeteners - NIH.gov
- How Safe Is Splenda (Sucralose)? - Medical News Today
- Varieties of Stevia - Stevia.net
- Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats - NIH.gov
- Wikipedia: Sucralose
- - Stevia FAQ - WebMD
- Research Review: Is Splenda safe? - Precision Nutrition