Aspartame: Friend or Foe? (1)

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A Man-made Sweetener.  (Photo credit: fannysparty)

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.

Space-filling model of the aspartame molecule,...
Space-filling model of the aspartame molecule, an artificial sweetener. This image shows the zwitterionic form. Colour code (click to show) : Black: Carbon, C : White: Hydrogen, H : Red: Oxygen, O : Blue: Nitrogen, N (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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42 thoughts on “Aspartame: Friend or Foe? (1)

  1. I thought they found that aspartame was really bad for you, that it causes stomach upsets and can do things like cause depression. I try to avoid anything with it, which includes diet coke. Some studies say it is good, some say it is really bad, I prefer to side on the side of caution, so I avoid. I would prefer not to be a laboratory rat.
    I have similar feelings about sunscreen. A bit different, but I was reluctant to always put sunscreen on my girls, because they are going to be the first generation to grow up and grow old applying it their whole lives. We don’t know that it won’t be as dangerous to their skin as the sun. Don’t get me wrong, I used it on them, but I only used it when absolutely necessary. Now sunscreen is causing another problem with so many people using it now people are being deficient in Vitamin D. Can you believe our sunny country has one of the highest rates of Vitamin D deficiency.
    I am sorry, I know you didn’t want to hear all that. Great thought provoking post.

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    1. Some of what you have written you will read in my next post on Aspartame – as well as the explanation why. 🙂 Many people, though, are unaware of what it can do to your body – especially as the so-called benefits are heavily advertised.
      I agree with you about sunscreen Leanne. The best is avoidance of the sun at the most dangerous times. I have only put it on my children and myself when I know that the midday rays cannot be avoided.

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  2. Made by Monsanto. They specialize in making chemical poisons. They create GMO’s for us to eat but they won’t serve them in their own corporate cafeteria. No, I would never consume aspartame or artificial sweeteners.

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  3. I am making a determined effort to cook from scratch as much as possible. There are so many unanswered questions about the additives in our food. Harmful effects often don’t show up for many years.

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    1. Cooking from scratch is the best, I find. Even though it takes a little longer, we do gain with eating a meal that is more nutritious. I cook from scratch too – just like my mother before me did.

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  4. Nothing against Aspartame, but I generally don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners … but it is interesting how cans of soda with it will float while the regular versions don’t.

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    1. Now that is interesting Frank (never had the chance to compare). I do not like the after-taste of the artificial sweeteners either which is why I have never really used them.

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  5. Have never tried it hon and I’ve read the reasons why they say it’s bad for you but I feel if a person used it for years and it did nothing to them, good for them, I say. I believe there are more worse dangers than Aspartame in our products nowadays that we are unaware of and you never know what to believe. Sometimes people/companies make up stories. Very interesting post as usual. Thanks for sharing. 🙂 *hugs*

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    1. As you say, the problem with much of our food today, Sonel, are the additives that we unknowingly consume. A good reason, I believe, for us to start thinking about what it is we consume.

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  6. No aspartame for me either, Colline. I simply avoid sugar and drink herbal tea. I don’t know exactly why, but I don’t trust it too much. You never know what the body does with these artificial ingredients, perhaps it stores them somewhere.

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  7. Aspartame is undergoing scrutiny for increasing cravings for sugar. This is being correlated to an increase risk in diabetes. I avoid artificial sweeteners and preservatives all together and stick with all-natural. Calories are not all that matter, it is the quality of those calories.

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    1. I agree – the taste tends to spoil the food or beverage for me. I would rather eat a little of a food with cane sugar in it, then a lot of the same sweetened with Aspartame.

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  8. I’m allergic to it. If I have even a little, I can’t wake up in the mornings. It’s very noticeable because I’m normally a person who pops out of bed and is ready for the day even without a cup of coffee — although I do like my coffee.

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    1. I guess that is your body’s way of showing you what you should not eat. Not a very pleasant reaction though. It would certainly cause me to avoiding eating it in any of my food.

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  9. Thank you for this information. I know I drink too much diet soda and I know I need to quit.Every bit of information helps me move away form it.
    What have you found out about the addictive nature of aspertaine?

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    1. It is harmful to your health in ways we don’t realise. Some people do react to it worse than others. The best is to wean yourself off of it and replace your drink with flavoured waters.

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