Why aspartame is one of the most used artificial sweeteners
We’re constantly being confronted with the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is a huge part of this. Due to this increasing health awareness, the demand for healthy consumer products has definitely spiked. You’ve probably been unable to avoid the countless foods and drinks in your local grocery store that claim to contain “zero calories” or are labeled “sugar-free”. Almost all of these products contain artificial sweeteners. In many soft drinks, candy, juice, cookies and puddings, an artificial sweetener can be found in the ingredient list, which makes them a popular choice for people that are looking for healthier alternatives. Chances are, among all of those diet products, you’ve definitely encountered many that contain aspartame. Aspartame is one of the most well-known artificial sweeteners, though many people still aren’t aware of its many benefits. If you are one of those people, or if you’d like to know more, read on! In this article, we’ll cover all of the important things you need to know about aspartame, so you can decide if this highly valued artificial sweetener is right for you.
No sugarcoating: The science behind artificial sweeteners explained
So, what is an artificial sweetener exactly? Simply put, it’s a substitute for sucrose, which is the regular sugar that you’re used to. Sucrose is naturally found in fruits and vegetables and is mostly derived from sugar cane or beets. Artificial sweeteners are chemically processed, although certain types are also derived from organic substances. The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners: aspartame, acesulfame potassium/K, saccharin, sucralose and most recently, neotame. Among the various types, aspartame is one of the most used artificial sweeteners in the world. It consists of two amino acids: phenylalanine, which can be found in some foods that are rich in protein, and aspartic acid, which is naturally found in our bodies and has an important role in the active site of enzymes. Though mostly used in (diet) carbonated beverages and juices, aspartame is also often used in gum, cereal, desserts and instant drinks, to enhance the flavor. Some tabletop granulated artificial sweeteners also contain aspartame as the main ingredient. Aspartame is up to 200 times sweeter than sucrose, but loses some of its sweetness at a high temperature, which is why it is mostly used in soft drinks and juices. Here are some of the reasons why aspartame is a well-loved artificial sweetener:
- It tastes very similar to regular sugar and enhances flavors;
Aspartame doesn’t have a strange aftertaste like some artificial sweeteners, which makes the transition from table sugar so much easier. It also significantly enhances fruit and citrus flavors. Aspartame requires a significantly smaller amount to be added to food and beverages, compared to regular sugar.
- It is rapidly metabolized upon ingestion, without affecting blood glucose levels;
Aspartame is fully broken down by the human body, but doesn’t raise blood sugar levels because it is not absorbed by the bloodstream or the organs. This makes aspartame ideal for diabetics who want to regulate their blood sugar without sacrificing the sweet flavor. The use of an artificial sweetener has no effect on blood glucose or insuline levels, meaning you can enjoy a sweet flavor guilt-free.
- It can be incorporated in a healthy diet, due to its low calorie content;
Artificial sweeteners are commonly used by people who want to manage their weight or even lose a few pounds. This is due to the fact that they are non-nutritive, meaning they don’t add any nutritional value to your diet. Aspartame contains about 4 calories per gram. It is also 200 times sweeter than sugar, which means you have to add far less to enjoy a rich sweetness. This makes it an excellent option for people who are on a low calorie diet, but wish to add an artificial sweetener to their food and beverages. When consistently used as part of a balanced diet to lose or manage weight, aspartame has proven to be effective.
- It doesn’t cause tooth decay;
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener; not a fermentable sugar. This means it doesn’t promote the production of the bad acids that cause cavities. Using an artificial sweetener, such as aspartame, instead of sugar can actually be beneficial to your dental health. So, if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be happy to know that those teeth will remain pearly whites if you use an artificial sweetener.
In retrospect, the use of aspartame has been the subject of controversy, mostly due to outdated studies and internet hoaxes. There have been extensive studies on aspartame in recent years, to dispel the myths and misconceptions about its side effects. The European Scientific Committee on Food studied the safety of aspartame, based on approximately 500 studies, and found that it’s entirely safe for use (taking into account the acceptable daily intake). Based on numerous studies, both The American Cancer Society and the European Food Safety Authority conclude that no evidence has been found to suggest that aspartame has a carcinogenic effect on humans. When used appropriately, aspartame is an excellent artificial sweetener for anyone who wishes to eat and live healthier.
Making an informed choice when choosing aspartame as a sugar substitute
For a very long time, the use of Aspartame in food or drinks has been a subject for debate. In the past, among other artificial sweeteners, this has been said to have many harmful side effects and cause diseases, such as cancer. This has led many people to believe that using artificial sweeteners is dangerous and could potentially be fatal. However, modern researchers have found no scientific evidence to support these claims; recent studies have shown no link between the use of artificial sweetener and cancer or type 2 diabetes. The FDA also deems artificial sweeteners entirely safe for consumption. Aspartame can be added to a healthy diet, to reduce daily calorie intake and manage your weight. It is also recommended for diabetics who wish to maintain a sweet flavor in their food, without disrupting glucose levels. As with all supplements, it’s important to remember that moderation is key. Eating healthy and exercising regularly is just as important as reducing your calorie and sugar intake with the use of aspartame. That being said, eating healthy doesn’t mean that the taste of your food needs to be bland. With aspartame, you actually bring flavor into your diet, without compromising your health. Still, there is a lot to say about the differences between artificial sweeteners as aspartame and sugar.