Ok, time for our lesson on artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet, Equal, Sweet’n Low and Splenda. These artificial sweeteners have been approved by the FDA. And, according to the National Cancer Institute, there is no evidence that artificial sweetener on the market in the US are related to cancer risk in humans. However, numerous studies performed on laboratory rates have linked aspartame and saccharin to cancer.
There are the 5 major categories of artificial sweeteners that are approved by the FDA:
1. Aspartame – sold under the brand names NutraSweet and Equal
2. Saccharin – sold under the brand name Sweet’n Low
3. Sucralose – sold under the brand name Splenda
4. Acesulfame K – widely used in foods, beverages, and pharmaceutical products around the world
5. Neotame – used in diet soft drinks and low-calorie foods
The Center for Science and Public Interest cautions everyone to avoid aspartame, saccharin and acesulfame K because they are unsafe when consumed in large amount or are very poorly tested and not worth the risk. The CSPI lists neotame and sucralose as safe.
Aspartame is of major concern because it contains 3 well-recognized neurotoxins: phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol. The following symptoms have been associated with aspartame:
mild to suicidal depression
Fortunately, most of the above symptoms are alleviates once aspartame is removed from your diet. These days, stevia-based sweeteners such as Truvia and PureVia have been showing up in sweetened products. Although stevia has not given officially approved by the FDA, it is allowed to be marketed and sold as a dietary supplement.
The use of artificial sweeteners is controversial, and the research can be conflicting. Here is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind with any kind of food additive – if your grandparents wouldn’t recognize it, it’s a harmful additive.
Homework for Health:
Go through your kitchen and find anything that is labeled “diet”, “low calorie” or “fat free.” See if you find any artificial sweeteners in those products.