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What's So Controversial About Aspartame?

Published on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 18:18

Aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners in use today.  You can find it in packets under brand names like NutraSweet and Equal.  But in addition you’ll find it in hundreds (if not thousands) of processed foods and beverages in our grocery stores, quick serve restaurants and retail establishments.

Aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than actual sugar.  The substance was approved for use in our food supply by the FDA in 1981.  Even though it was approved over 30 years ago, the debate about its safety is alive and well.  And it doesn’t appear that the controversies surrounding its use will die down anytime in the near future.

Aspartame consists of two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Aspartame is also a nonnutritive, which means it does not add anything new or extra to your diet, nor does it provide any nutritional benefits.

Cancer and Phenylketonuria
Aspartame has been linked to a variety of different side effects.  Several different sources have associated the sweetener with cancer, pointing to possible carcinogenic properties.  In addition,, because aspartame breaks down to become the amino acid phenylalanine, it could also be a cause of phenylketonuria.  This is a condition occurring when a person’s body does not produce the necessary enzymes necessary to break down phenylalanine.    

Other sources link Aspartame to migraines and chronic headaches.  These are caused by an allergic response to the ingredient. 

Other Possible Problems
The list of potential side effects from the use of Aspartame is quite lengthy.  It includes (but is certainly not limited to):

Mood changes
Abdominal issues
Vision changes
Changes in heart rate
Sleep disturbances

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has publicly raised concerns regarding the quality of the studies conducted to confirm the safety of Aspartame and has suggested that new, more independent research be performed. 

Does anyone really need Aspartame?

Well, no … not at all.  While Aspartame is a “zero-calorie sweetener,” actual sugar only contains 15 calories per teaspoon.  Let’s be honest, the difference between 0 and 15 is pretty negligible when it comes to calorie count.  And while Aspartame has become the common sweetener in “dietetic” foods and beverages, recent studies have pointed to the idea that its use can actually stimulate hunger.  That should disturb folks who routinely turn to Aspartame-containing products to aid their weight loss.

And for those suffering from diabetes,  new studies have linked the consumption of diet soda with an increased risk for the condition.

The FDA considers Aspartame to be safe and beneficial for both diabetics and those suffering from obesity.

We’ve received conflicting reports on Aspartame for over 30 years now.  Aspartame remains as controversial as ever.

Visit The Rak Foundation for Nutritional Awareness for more information on how we can change the way America eats!