Aspartame (E951) is a low-calorie, high-intensity sweetener used in some confectionery and soft drinks. It is also called NutraSweet and Equal. Aspartame was accidentally discovered by James Schlatter, while working in the research labs of G.D. Searle & Company as a chemist in 1965, by indulging in his habit of chewing the stuff that came with his lunch – an old bottle of improperly stored aspartic acid – and finding it to be amazingly sweet.
What is aspartame?
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that’s been around since 1981. It’s made from two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. These two amino acids are naturally found in protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
Aspartame is about 180 times sweeter than sugar, but it doesn’t provide any calories or other nutrients. That’s why it’s often used in sugar-free foods and beverages — it makes them taste sweet without adding calories.
Aspartame has been under fire for years over safety concerns. Some research has linked it to cancer and brain tumors in rats, but the FDA says there’s no reason to think it poses a threat to people who consume it regularly (such as those who drink diet soda). Many studies have looked at whether artificial sweeteners like aspartame affect our weight or metabolism. Some say they do help people lose weight by reducing calories consumed through beverages, while others have concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to support these claims.
What aspartame does to your body?
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that has been linked to many health problems, including cancer. Studies have shown that aspartame can cause headaches and other adverse effects in some people. It has also been shown to cause low blood pressure and heart palpitations in both children and adults.
Aspartame has also been linked with behavioral changes and brain damage in children, especially those with learning disabilities.
Aspartame was first discovered in 1965 by James Schlatter, a chemist at G.D. Searle Company while he was working on an ulcer drug. Aspartame was approved by the FDA in 1981 under the brand names NutraSweet® and Equal®. NutraSweet® claims that aspartame is made up of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. While this may be true, there are many other chemicals that make up aspartame, including methanol, formaldehyde, and diketopiperazine (4). If you are concerned about possible side effects from consuming aspartame then avoid all products containing it including sugar-free gum, breath mints, and diet soda.
How much aspartame is safe?
The FDA has set an ADI of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day. That means you would need to consume more than 5,000 cans of diet soda to exceed the FDA’s limit.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) uses a different approach to set ADIs. EFSA also recommends an ADI of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day, but it bases its calculations on the amount of aspartame that can be safely consumed by humans. This is known as “acceptable daily intake” or ADI.
EFSA’s scientific panel is made up of independent experts who review all available scientific literature on a given substance before completing their assessment. They then set guidelines for safe levels, which are meant only as a guide and not as rules or regulations. The panel also considers how much exposure to a substance there is likely to be under normal conditions of use and in various subpopulations, such as children and pregnant women.
What aspartame is found in?
Aspartame occurs naturally in some foods, such as some fruits and vegetables, but it’s not the same thing as natural sugar. That’s because it’s made from two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. These molecules are natural components of protein in the body, but when they’re combined into a single molecule like aspartame, they can be toxic to your body.
Aspartame is found in thousands of foods and beverages, including non-diet soft drinks, chewing gum, breath mints and many other products. It’s also sold as a tabletop sweetener under the brand names NutraSweet® and Equal®.
Aspartame is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners in the world. It’s about 200 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1981 as an artificial sweetener for use in foods and beverages.
How aspartame is made?
It is generally possible to produce aspartame commercially by combining L-aspartic acid, L-phenylalanine, and methanol. A variety of synthesis methods are available. Below are four brief manufacturing processes created by the China manufacturer – Yamei, which closed in 2017.
This is the first step of the reaction between formic acid, acetic anhydride, and L-aspartic acid to produce N-formyl-α-L-aspartic anhydride.
Step 2: Produce N-formyl-a-L-aspartic anhydride by reacting it with sodium hydroxide and L-phenylalanine.
In the third step, the ester is converted into hydrochloride by reacting with methanol and hydrochloric acid.
Aspartame is made by neutralizing N-L-alpha-Asparagine-L-phenylalanine-1-methyl ester (Step 4) with Na2CO3.
|N-L-alpha-Aspartyl-L-phenylalanine-1-methyl ester, Aspartyl phenylalanine methyl ester, APM
|0.8% solution is between 4.5 and 6.0
|Insoluble in oil, and only slightly soluble in water (10 g/L at room temperature).
Powder or granules that are white and crystalline.
It has a sweet taste that is pure, refreshing, and strong, about 200 times sweeter than sucrose. In contrast to other artificial sweeteners, this one does not have a bitter, chemical, or metallic aftertaste.
Sweeteners work together synergistically. As an example, when aspartame and acesulfame potassium are mixed in a 1:1 ratio, their sweetness can reach 300 times that of sucrose, while each is 200 times sweeter when used separately.
As a result, less sweetener is required to produce the desired sweetness. Additionally, aspartame can mask the bitterness and astringency of other sweeteners.
A further benefit of synergy is that aspartame in soft drinks is less unstable. The shelf life of soft drinks can be extended by mixing aspartame with another sweetener that is more stable.
The structure of this ingredient is composed of two amino acids (l-aspartic acid and l-phenylalanine), along with methanol. Similarly to protein, it can be digested and absorbed by the body.
There are five functional groups in the molecule: carboxyl, ester, amine, amide, and phenyl.
What is the application of aspartame?
Aspartame is used in food to reduce sugar and calorie. In addition, you may find it in many foods, and here is a common list:
- Carbonated soft drinks
- Powdered drink
- Instant coffee and tea beverages
- Fruit juice
- Tabletop sweeteners
- Dairy products
- Frozen desserts, puddings
- Chewing gum
- Breath mints
Due to its instability, aspartame cannot be used in cooking or baking because it hydrolyzes (breaks down) into amino acids at temperatures above 80 degrees. Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, acesulfame k, sodium cyclamate, sodium saccharin and neotame are more stable, making them appropriate for use here.
Sugar is often used as a sweetener in traditional foods, but it can cause obesity, cardiovascular disease, dental caries, harmful to diabetics and other health issues. Due to these side effects, many people prefer sugar-free and low-calorie foods because they are sensitive to sucralose.
Aspartame replaces sugar in the body. Compared to sugar, it is 200 times sweeter. In addition, one gram of aspartame contains about 16.72 kJ of calories, although the amount needed to make people feel sweet is so small.
Carbonated soft drinks
Since aspartame was introduced in the early 1980s, carbonated beverages have been its primary application. Traditional carbonated soft drinks contain sugar and high fructose corn syrup as sweeteners.
The diet sodas of Coca-Cola and Pepsi both contain aspartame, but Diet Pepsi went aspartame-free in 2015, replacing it with sucralose and stevia since some customers claimed aspartame was not safe. Due to a sharp decline in sales in 2016, the company relaunched Diet Pepsi with aspartame.
As we can see, sucralose and acesulfame K dominate the beverage’s artificial sweetener list.
Diet Mountain Dew also contains aspartame.
In Coca-Cola’s drinks, aspartame provides less sugar and fewer calories while still offering great taste.
Except for Coca-Cola Classic Taste, which is sweetened with either high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar, the following drinks contain aspartame:
- Coke Zero Sugar
- Diet Coke
- Fanta Zero
- Sprite Zero
Aspartame’s stability in water is primarily determined by its pH value. A pH of 4.3 at room temperature makes it most stable. Most beverages have a pH between 3 and 5, so aspartame is very stable in them.
Does Sparkling Ice have aspartame?
No, Sparkling Ice products are sweetened with sucralose instead of aspartame.
Does 7UP have aspartame?
Yes, Aspartame is added to Diet 7UP and 7UP diet cherry, while high fructose corn syrup is added to Cherry 7UP and original 7UP.
Powdered drink mixes
Powdered drinks are another main food category where aspartame is used. With the help of other ingredients (such as citric acid, calcium phosphate, maltodextrin, ascorbic acid, maltitol, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, colors and flavors), aspartame can be combined to make powdered drink dry mixes for sugar-free or calorie-reduced drinks.
You’ll find it in the ingredient list of sugar-free Tang – a popular powder drink by Mondelez.
Table top sweeteners
To make sachets, aspartame and maltodextrin are combined (to make distribution easier).
Sugar-free gum can be made using it and sugar alcohols (e.g. maltitol, sorbitol). Eclipse sugar free gum contains it in its ingredient list.
It is suitable to sweeten yogurt with aspartame. Set yogurt is produced after pasteurization but before fermentation; stirred yogurt is produced after fermentation.
In the manufacture of sugar-free and reduced-calorie confectionery, aspartame is used instead of sugar. Candy and chocolate use it for sweetness similar to sucrose, as it is lower in calories and does not cause dental caries.
The product is suitable for use in no-sugar-added, sugar-free frozen desserts and novelty items. Ice cream and yogurt, for example.
It is used as a sugar substitute in pharmaceuticals to mask undesirable flavors.
What are the benefits of aspartame?
- Tastes like sugar, no bitter aftertaste
- Suitable for diabetics because it has a zero glycemic index
- Natural digestibility and metabolism: made from amino acids
- Control of weight
- All artificial sweeteners have the highest acceptable daily intake (ADI)
Good for diabetics
It has a zero glycemic index (GI number), which means it will not raise blood sugar levels or insulin levels. It is therefore safe for diabetics to consume.
Sugar-sweetened products contain more calories than aspartame-sweetened products, so aspartame may help reduce weight.
Researchers at Harvard have shown that aspartame (as well as artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and natural sugar substitutes) can aid in weight loss.
Sweeteners with low calories are highly acceptable for daily consumption
Aspartame has an Acceptable Daily Intake of 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg bw/d), whereas other artificial sweeteners have the following numbers:
- Advantame: 32.8
- Acesulfame K: 15
- Saccharin: 15
- Sucralose: 5
- Neotame: 0.3
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), sugar substitutes (such as aspartame, erythritol, isomalt, sorbitol, and mannitol) do not damage your teeth by promoting decay-causing acids.
In order for the same sweetness, only 1/200 of sucrose is needed, which is a non-carbohydrate sweetener with 1672 kJ/g. Therefore, its calories can be ignored in food.
Is aspartame safe to eat for the body?
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is used in many diet sodas and other products. It is thought by some to cause headaches, dizziness and other health problems.
While there are some side effects associated with aspartame, they are not life-threatening or common. It is important to note that the FDA has approved all of these sweeteners and they are safe for use in foods and drinks.
According to good manufacturing practice, aspartame can be safely added to food as a sweetener and flavor enhancer.
More than 100 scientific studies were conducted on it before it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1981 for use as a tabletop sweetener, in hot beverages (coffee, tea), in cold breakfast cereals, in chewing gum, and in other applications.
The EU Commission has approved Aspartame (E951) as a food additive in Regulation (EU) No 231/2012.
The Ramazzini Foundation’s study of carcinogenicity
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that there was no evidence to support the conclusions of the European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF). Aspartame was not indicated to be carcinogenic or genotoxic, nor was there a reason to revise the approved ADI.”
Safety re-evaluation in 2013
The EFSA concluded that aspartame was not a safety concern at an ADI of 40 mg/kg (not applicable to PKU patients).
In addition to phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol, EFSA approved the safety of the products formed by the hydrolysis of aspartame.
In foods, the maximum usage ranges from 25 to 6000 mg/kg, except for quantum satis. You can find it in the following energy-reduced and/or no added sugar foods:
- Fruits and vegetables in cans or bottles
- Marmalades, jams, and jellies
- Chocolate and cocoa products
- Various sauces
- Typical breakfast cereals
- Sweeteners for tabletop use in powder, liquid, and tablet forms
- Drinks flavored with fruit
UK Food Standards Agency
In the “Sweeteners” category
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand have approved it with code number 951.
Classification: food additives, sweeteners.
ADI “0-40 mg/kg bw” was set in 1981.
What are the side effects of aspartame?
FDA and EFSA have approved aspartame’s safety as the most investigated sweetener. However, there are many people who claim that this ingredient is bad for their health, and the following are some of its possible side effects:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Memory loss
- Weight gain
Does aspartame cause cancer?
There’s no evidence that aspartame causes cancer. The National Cancer Institute says there’s no good evidence linking aspartame to cancer. It says studies in rats showed them developing tumors at high doses of aspartame, but the doses were many times higher than the amount humans would get from eating foods with aspartame.
Some studies have found links between certain cancers and sweeteners containing saccharin (another artificial sweetener), but these studies weren’t able to prove that the sweeteners caused the cancers.
Aspartame is completely metabolized by our bodies into phenylalanine (about 50%), aspartic acid (about 40%) and methanol (about 10%).
Our bodies require amino acids such as aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The human body can produce aspartic acid, whereas phenylalanine must be ingested from food.
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is an inherited disease in which an enzyme prevents the body from metabolizing phenylalanine into tyrosine. As a result, people with such diseases should limit their intake of phenylalanine.
Aspartame hydrolysis generates phenylalanine, so people with PKU should not consume it.
To remind consumers of PKU, the FDA requires aspartame-containing foods and beverages to state they contain phenylalanine on the labels.
Aspartame or foods and drinks can contain methanol, which the body uses in the same way, the same way that methanol can be found in common food items. There is less than 10% of the total expected exposure to methanol from all sources from aspartame.
Migraines may be caused by methanol, which is absorbed and quickly converted to formaldehyde.
Aspartame may trigger headaches, according to research conducted in 1989.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, aspartame is no more likely to cause headaches than a placebo.
Aspartame may cause sensitivity in some people. In 1986, the New York Times reported that two patients were allergic to aspartame after drinking two or three cans a day of a diet soft drink containing aspartame. Their symptoms included hives, rashes, and breathing difficulties.
Is aspartame safe for pregnant women?
In 2013, EFSA found that phenylalanine derived from aspartame at the current ADI (40 mg/kg body weight/day) did not pose any risk to the fetus.
Dementia and stroke
According to a 2017 study, artificially sweetened soft drinks are associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia.
Why aspartame is bad?
Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar so you can use less of it to get the same amount of sweetness — but that doesn’t mean it’s calorie-free. The amount of calories from aspartame depends on how much you’re using and what else you’re eating with it. If you’re drinking diet soda with sugar or another sweetener like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), for example, there’s no benefit to using aspartame because your body will still absorb all those calories from the other ingredients in your drink anyway.
The main controversy surrounding aspartame has been its potential link to cancer — specifically brain tumors and lymphomas — but more recently research has focused on its effects on heart health. Some studies suggest that consuming large amounts of aspartame can lead to cardiovascular problems such as stroke, heart attack and arrhythmia. However, there are also studies showing no effect on cardiovascular health at all.
It’s important to note that most of these studies were conducted on rats or mice who were fed large amounts of concentrated doses of aspartame over long periods of time — not exactly something you should be doing at home!
Where to buy aspartame?
Where to buy aspartame? You can find it at your local grocery store, health food store, and even online. Here are some places where you can buy aspartame: Aspartame is available in the following forms:
Tablets or capsules — Aspartame is often sold in tablet or capsule form so it can be taken orally. These forms are usually available at your local pharmacy or grocery store without a prescription.
Powder — Aspartame is also available as a powder that you can mix with water or other beverages. This form can be harder to find than tablets or capsules but may be more convenient if you want to sweeten non-beverage foods like ice cream or yogurt. The powdered form of aspartame may also be less expensive than tablets or capsules because it doesn’t need to be packaged in blister packs or bottles with childproof caps (which cost money). You’ll likely find it in bulk bins at some specialty grocery stores or online from retailers such as Amazon.com and Walmart
Frequently asked questions
Aspartame Vs Sucralose
Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener that’s been used in food and drinks for decades. It’s 200 times sweeter than sugar, but it’s also 200 times more dangerous to your health.
Sucralose is also a low-calorie sweetener, but it’s 600 times sweeter than sugar! This means you can use less of it per serving and still get the same amount of sweetness. It also has a very long shelf life.
Aspartame Vs Acesulfame potassium
Acesulfame potassium (also called Ace-K) is a non-nutritive sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It’s made by combining acetoacetic acid with hydrogen cyanide and then fermenting the result with bacteria. It’s often added to chewing gum, soft drinks and other foods to enhance the flavor of artificial sweeteners that don’t taste very good by themselves.
Aspartame is another non-nutritive sweetener that is about 180 times sweeter than sugar. It’s made by combining two amino acids: phenylalanine and aspartic acid. These amino acids are found in many foods we eat every day, such as meat and dairy products.
Is aspartame sugar alcohol?
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener. It is not a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are carbohydrates that occur naturally, whereas aspartame is a synthetic compound made in a lab.
Does splenda have aspartame?
No, Splenda does not contain aspartame. It is a non-nutritive sweetener, meaning that it is not metabolized or broken down by the body and has no calories.
Is aspartame halal and kosher?
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that has been deemed halal and kosher by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, as well as the Orthodox Union. It is a common ingredient in soft drinks, chewing gum, frozen desserts and tabletop sweeteners.
Is aspartame gluten free?
Aspartame does not contain gluten, but it may be contaminated with gluten during the manufacturing process. This means that if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), you should avoid foods that contain aspartame—even those labeled “gluten-free.”
Is aspartame vegan?
Yes, aspartame is vegan. Aspartame is a sugar substitute that is made from two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. These two amino acids are both found in proteins, which are found in all animal sources (including eggs and milk). So aspartame can be considered vegan-friendly.
Why does aspartame cause headaches?
Aspartame is a sugar substitute that’s used in many foods and soft drinks, but it can also cause headaches in some people. When it’s ingested, aspartame breaks down into three chemicals: phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol.
If you’re sensitive to these substances, they can cause headaches. The reason for this is that the brain uses them for energy and if you don’t have enough of them in your system, your body will try to compensate by creating more of them inside your brain. This results in a buildup of chemicals that can trigger headaches.
When you are shopping for food or beverages, please look at the ingredients list to see if it contains sugar substitutes. If it does, look up the product for a specific sweetener on any of the ingredient lists. Sunett is currently not allowed in some countries in Europe and is being reassessed. Aspartame is a nitrogen-containing dipeptide composed of the amino acids L-phenylalanine and L-aspartic acid. Aspartame is often used to replace sucrose (table sugar) in products like candies, cookies, soft drinks, and fruit juices. Sucralose is used in experimental studies to get rid of harmful parasites such as Giardia lamblia.
If you have any questions or feedback about this additive, feel free to let us know in the comments.