Safest Artificial Sweeteners – Are they really Safe?

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Sugar, the sweet enemy, is thought to be a major culprit for increasing rate of obesity as well as it is considered to be the prominent cause for diabetes. In spite of the accepted truth that sugar is the biggest enemy of our diet, and of course, our health; it is too hard for many people to resist coffee with sugar or a mouthful of cake, bakery products, chocolate bar, or many others.

Due to our pushy love for sugar… scientists discovered artificial sweeteners, which provide the sweetness of sugar without the same calories. Avoiding sugar by using artificial sweeteners could be best choice for people on diet, allowing them to stick on a good diet for extended period of time. They are also helpful in preventing cavities, and controlling blood sugar of people with diabetes. Like sugar intakes, intakes of artificial sweeteners have been increased, but artificial sweeteners have received some negative approvals regarding safety concerns. However, there is a selected group of artificial sweeteners, which offer risk-free flavor if consumed in recommended quantity. Based on various major tests, studies and controlled research; detailed knowledge on few of FDA approved Artificial Sweeteners is given below. So, go through them and select your safe, healthy & sweeter one with no doubt.

Are Artificial Sweeteners really Safe to human body

Low-calorie sweeteners, non-nutritive sweeteners or sugar substitutes are other names of this artificial sweetener. They are chemically made or processed, and you can add them in foods and drinks as well use them during baking or other food preparation. Here note that artificial sweeteners make food sweeter but don’t contain any real food energy, also don’t have any effect on your blood glucose levels. One thing for sure is that artificial sweeteners are 30 to 8,000 times sweeter than sugar; you need really smaller amounts to create the same level of sweetness. Artificial sweeteners are considered free foods for dietician as several sugar substitutes have 0 calories per gram.

Safest Artificial Sweeteners - Are they really Safe?

Animal studies in 1970s linked saccharin, an artificial sweetener, to bladder cancer in laboratory rats… since then artificial sweeteners are criticized to cause a variety of health problems, including cancer. After those studies, saccharin carried a notice label that it may be risky to human consumption. But soon, National Cancer Institute and other health agencies like Health Canada, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization declared that there’s no sound scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners is carcinogenic or cause other serious health problems. They even support that artificial sweeteners are generally safe in limited quantities, even for children and pregnant women. Here, it is also believed that the FDA knows about the risks of this chemical but it is hiding the truth from the public to guard corporate profits.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved some artificial sweeteners and now regulate them as food additives based on a detailed review together with hundreds of medical studies. FDA must review and approve artificial sweeteners before making them available for sale. It also declares some substance as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS). Even, Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) has been established by the FDA for each artificial sweetener. ADIs are intended to be the highest amount that considered safe to consume every day. Aspartame, Stevia, Sucralose, Saccharin, Neotame, and Acesulfame potassium – these six sugar substitutes have been approved for use in the United States. Below, we can see the detailed info about the 4 safest artificial sweeteners of the list.

Today, Artificial sweeteners can be used in anything and everything from chocolate and ketchup to gum, ice cream, many sodas and sweetened drinks, also as table sugars (e.g., to sweeten coffee or tea). Even, majority of companies producing diet or low-calorie food products in the market make widely use of such low-calorie artificial sweeteners. No doubt the taste remains as sweet as of sugar, but is it really safe to use such artificial sweeteners? If yes, then know which are of them?

Aspartame

Aspartame was revealed in 1965 and FDA approved it for human use in 1980. It is marketed under the 2 brand names: Equal™ and Nutrasweet™. This artificial sweetener is used in most diet sodas and sugar-free beverages, additive in desserts, chewing gum, cereals, yogurt, and candy also as a table-top sweetener. Aspartame is 220 times sweeter than sugar but it can’t be used in cooking or baking as it drops its sweetness if exposed to heat. Aspartame is made up of combining two amino acids – phenylalanine and aspartic acid.

How safe is it?

Aspartame has been well studied and considered safe for human consumption, including pregnant women. However it hasn’t exposed any severe side effects, it has been under constant attack since its approval. Unfortunately, it has been linked to brain tumors as amino acids create a toxic cellular overstimulation called excitotoxicity and cross the blood-brain barrier to literally attack your brain cells. Another excitotoxin MSG also works synergistically with aspartame and cause more harm to your brain cells.

As per the animal studies of European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences, aspartame has increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma (cancer) along with headaches, and general ill-health. Later on, Health Canada reviewed these studies and found rigorous imperfection. Also, The Center For Science in the Public Interest support Equal brand and declared it probably safe.

Note that:

Aspartame contains phenylalanine so people with the rare disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) must avoid it because they cannot metabolize phenylalanine.

Acceptable daily intake (ADI) according to FDA

As FDA has approved the use of 50mg/1kg of your body weight, do not exceed this limit, also you should use less than that limit to avoid negative side effects.

Saccharin

For centuries, Saccharin has been around and discovered when a researcher was working on coal tar derivatives. It is made up of benzoic sulfimide chemical. Saccharin is marketed under the brand Hermesetas®, Sweet Twin, Sweet’N Low, and Necta Sweet as the table top sweetener. In some liquids, it may taste bitter or metallic. You can use Saccharin in many diet foods and drinks, but it is not used in cooking and baking. Also, it can be used in some cosmetic products, vitamins, and pharmaceuticals. It tastes 200 to 700 times sweeter than sugar. Saccharin has zero calories so it does not raise blood sugar levels. In Canada, Saccharin was banned 30 years ago in its place they rely more on the aspartame and sucralose sweeteners. Here, you can buy Saccharin only at pharmacies.

How safe is it?

This one is claimed to be the “best researched sweetener” as many rat studies in the 1970’s showed that saccharin was one type of carcinogenic and absolutely unsafe. With the ingestion of saccharin, bladder tumors were shown in male rats during the research. The FDA proposed a ban on saccharin and labeled this warning for being hazardous to human health on its products.

Later on, over 30 studies on humans have been made and shown that the cancer in lab rats is not related to humans. Actually, the amount given to the rats in the original study was 100 times more than “normal” ingestion for humans. Also in 2000, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the National Institutes of Health stated that saccharin should be deleted from the list of potential carcinogens as well its warning label. Even now, saccharin is selected to be the safest one from the FDA-approved artificial sweeteners.

Acceptable daily intake (ADI) according to FDA

As FDA has approved the use of 10mg/1kg of your body weight, for beverages it is limited to 12 mg/fluid ounce, and 30 mg per serving in processed foods.

Sucralose

Sucralose is the latest non-nutritive sweetener on the market. It is derivative of reaction of sugar (sucrose) with chlorine. FDA had approved Sucralose for limited use in 1998, after that in 1999, it was given approval for use as a general purpose sweetener. Sucralose is approved for use in more than 80 countries as well broadly used for home cooking and baking. Unlike above mentioned artificial sweeteners, this one is heat stable, hence does not break down when cooked or baked. With this astonishing property, Sucralose grow to be one of the most popular and vastly consumed artificial sweeteners. Including cooked or baked foods, there are more than 4,500 products which use Sucralose.

You can use Sucralose alone, and it is marketed under the Splenda™ brand. Splenda tastes 600 times sweeter than table sugar. Remember that it is not absorbed completely and there are no calories when used.

How safe is it?

The FDA and CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) found that Sucralose passed all studies in human beings and animals. It is considered fully safe for use by pregnant women and human consumption. No single study has shown any bad side effects like it poses carcinogenic, reproductive, or neurological possibility to human beings.

But don’t forget that sucralose contains chlorine, which is considered to be the most dangerous factor – carcinogen; also it is used in pesticides, poisonous gas, plastics and disinfectants. Another important thing is that sucralose is not clear regarding the digestion and absorption because most studies were done on animals and for short length of time and merely 2 human trials were completed and published prior to the FDA approval for human consumption. Thus, it firmly requires long-term studies on humans for the exact approval. Moreover, it’s not all true that Sucralose does not contain any calories. Actuality, it is 600 times sweeter than sugar – it means you need very small amount to get the desired sweetness.

Acceptable daily intake (ADI) according to FDA

FDA has approved the use of 5mg/1kg of your body weight, for Sucralose.

Acesulfame-K

Initially, Acesulfame potassium was not approved for general use. When it was approved by the FDA in 1988, only food manufacturers can use it as sweet ingredient in diet sodas and gum or in particular food and beverage categories. Later in 2002, it was approved as a general artificial sweetener (excluding in meat and poultry). This is marketed under two brands: Sunett and Sweet One as well listed as acesulfame K, acesulfame potassium, Ace-K in the ingredients list of food label.

It is 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) and tastes similar to aspartame. Most of the times, it is used to conserve the sweetness of sweet foods or as a flavor-enhancer. Like sucralose, it is also heat stable and used in cooking and baking. You can use this artificial sweetener together with saccharin or others in carbonated low-calorie drinks and other products.

How safe is it?

Actually, acesulfame K is based on the improper testing as well there aren’t long-term studies. As the name suggest, Acesulfame potassium contains potassium, so people following low potassium diets should not use this product. Moreover, this artificial sweetener may hamper your medications if you’re taking antibiotics that contain sulfa. Even, the CSPI argued that governments’ safety consideration were based on faulty animal studies in the 1970s. Also, Health Canada agrees that the proof of acesulfame’s safety is based on old data.

We know that Acesulfame K include the methylene chloride which is carcinogenic. So, there are risks for cancer, kidney effects, liver effects, headaches, nausea, depression, mental confusion, and visual disturbances in humans; if methylene chloride exposure would be taken for the long-term. All these opposed the use of acesulfame K.

Acceptable daily intake (ADI) according to FDA

The FDA has approved use up to 15 mg/kg of body weight/day.


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