I am sure you have heard the word “Aspartame”, or read it on the list of ingredients in many of the foods and drinks you consume. If you have not, you may recognise one of the names is has been marketed under: Nutrasweet, Equal, and Canderel. Recently the name AminoSweet has been adopted to describe it. Aspartame is a man-made, artificial chemical that tastes like sugar; but does not contain as many calories as natural sweeteners (honey, cane sugar, beet sugar). Aspartame has been touted as a positive discovery which will help many men and women on their way to losing unwanted kilograms.
If you want to read more of the chemical make-up of this sweetener and how it is manufactured, read the article written by Perry Romanowski. Basically, Aspartame is made up of the compounds of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The starting amino acids and certain bacteria are produced through fermentation in a tank. When the fermentation process is over (after about three days), the amino acids are separated from the bacteria and then synthesised. Before their synthesis, the two compounds are made to react with methonal : a reaction which is required for the synthesis to occur and which is needed to create the chemical Aspartame.
Aspartame is described by the Aspartame Information Centre as having many benefits :
• It intensifies and extends fruit flavours in food and drinks. Fruit-flavoured sugar-free gum, for example, tastes sweeter for longer than gum sweetened with natural sugar.
• It does not contribute to tooth decay, making dentists a fan of this sweetener!
• It helps those on a calorie restricted diet who are looking to lose, and maintain, their body weight. Claims have been made that the sweetener helps to satisfy the need to eat something sweet; and that it does not bring with it the calories that natural sugars and sweeteners do.
• It does not affect the blood sugar levels in our diet, thus enabling those with Diabetes to have a varied diet. In addition, it satisfies their craving for sweets and sweet-tasting food.
We have been told by many nutritionists and scientists that this man-made sweetener is safe for our bodies. The use of it in foods has been approved for consumption. Many of the products we buy in our supermarkets are sweetened with Aspartame – have a look the next time you go grocery shopping.
(Read part 2 of this article here.)
Do you consume products sweetened with Aspartame? Which ones are they? Have you experienced any of the above-mentioned benefits?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013