People who are looking to lower their sugar consumption look to sugar substitutes to satisfy their need for sweetening foods. Can you imagine eating ice cream, drinking soda or chewing a dessert bar without any hint of sweetness at all? It takes away the pleasure of the experience. For some, it’s a matter of preference not to consume too much sugar while for others it’s something that needs to be done in order to address a health issue. Thankfully, there are products out in the market that allow sweetness in food products (as an ingredient or as an additive) with just a fraction (or in some cases, none) of the calories. Aspartame is one of these products.
Aspartame can be found in diet drinks, other diet food product varieties, gums and candies, and as a product in packets—a substitute for table sugar for coffee, tea and other beverages that require sweetening. One of the most familiar brands for aspartame is NutraSweet.
There are many benefits for using aspartame in lieu of sugar, including the following:
- Aspartame is better for dental health than sugar. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria which turn sugars into acid on the surface of the teeth, causing it to decay. Because aspartame is not sugar, it does not promote the proliferation of bacteria which causes damage to the teeth. Moreover, it can reduce incidents of bad breath too.
- Aspartame can help people with diabetes cope with the disease. People with diabetes need to be mindful of the carbohydrates and calories they take in so that they can manage their blood sugar levels. By using a sugar substitute like aspartame, they can manage their condition without totally having to give up some of their guilty pleasures such as sodas, ice creams or other sweets. Its helps diabetics cope with diabetes without feeling so much the sense of deprivation.
- Aspartame can help people lose weight. Because aspartame is lower in calories than regular sugar, it can help people manage their weight. People who are on a diet program are usually put in sugar free diets and this could be achieved using sugar substitutes like aspartame.
Although aspartame has many benefits and has been deemed safe for use by the Food and Drug Administration, there are still many who believe that aspartame can cause many health conditions. It should probably come as no surprise since aspartame seems too good to be true: it is 200 times as sweet as sucrose at a mere fraction of the calories. Some of the aspartame side effects that have been claimed by different individuals and groups include cancer, various neurological conditions, various psychological conditions, eye problems, and metabolic conditions among others. It should however be noted that none of these side effect claims are backed by scientific evidence. One common side effect that is reported by many users though is the development of headaches; however experts believe that this is no different to the headaches that can be caused by other types of food (in some people) products such as cheeses, wine and beer.
Aspartame is and continues to be one of the most studied and analyzed food products by the FDA as well as the UK Food Standards Agency and the European Food Safety Authority. Based on numerous studies and scientific research, aspartame is safe for daily consumption even when consumed many times over the prescribed daily limit. Most of the reported side effects of aspartame cannot be conclusively attributed solely to the product.