What is Aspartame?
Aspartame is a non-nutritive sweetener found in sweet food and beverages. It is composed of 2 amino acids Aspartic Acid and Phenylalanine. Both of these amino acids are found in all protein containing foods (Meat, Eggs, Dairy).
Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar.
Because Aspartame is composed of amino acids, it has a Calorie content of 4kcal/1g of Aspartame. However, at concentrations required to sweeten foods and drinks, the calorie content of Aspartame calorie is almost non-existent.
Why is Aspartame perceived to be unhealthy?
After aspartame is ingested from the diet, it is broken down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol.
High levels of methanol in the body are toxic. Methanol poisoning most commonly occurs as a result of drinking window washing fluid.
However, even at extremely high dietary intakes of Aspartame, the amount of methanol produced is too small to have any harmful effect on the body (Acosta & Elsas, 1999).
The packaging on aspartame products may say "contains a source of phenylalanine". This causes potential concern around the phenylalanine contained in Aspartame. Phenylalanine is an amino acid found in all food sources of protein.
Unless a person is diagnosed with the rare disorder Phenylketonuria, in which a person cannot breakdown phenylalanine, therefore has a diet where high protein foods (Meat, Eggs & Dairy) must be completely avoided, there is no evidence to suggest that Aspartame has any negative effects on human health.
How can Aspartame be beneficial?
Aspartame serves as an additional sweetener for food and beverages. Because of the calorie content of aspartame, replacing sugars in food and drinks with aspartame can lower the overall calorie intake of an individual, thus aiding in weight loss.
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