Is asparatame safe? (NutriSweet, Equal sugar E951)


Take home message

Per FDA, a normal 132 lb person could consume 75 packets (34 mg each) of Nutrasweet, Equal, or Sugar Twin every day for an entire lifetime, without adverse health effects.

The American Cancer Society says the limits for a 165 lb person is 107 packets or 19 diet sodas per day.

Aspartame is one of the most studied food additives.
Fifteen years after it was discovered, in 1981, the US Food and Drug Administration approved it (excluding use by people with the inheritable PKU disease. There was no observed adverse effect in any animal at 50,000 mg per kg of body weight.

The European Food Safety Authority concluded that it does not cause cancer, harm the brain, the nervous system or affect behavior or cognitive function in children or adults, and  there was no risk to the developing fetus (with the exception of women with PKU).


Background






Aspartame
Acesulfame Potassium
Aspartame individual packet
yes
No
Equal Individual packets
yes
Yes
AW Root Beer, Diet
yes
Yes
Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Diet
yes
Yes
Coke, Diet
yes
No
Coke, Zero
yes
Yes
Dr. Pepper, Diet
yes
No
Mt. Dew, Diet (also contains sucralose)
yes
yes
Seven Up, Diet
yes
Yes
Sunkist, Diet
yes
Yes
Squirt, Diet
yes
Yes

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Sources
American Heart Association. Statement regarding artificial sweeteners

Cancer Research Institute.  Statement regarding artificial sweeteners   

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Dagfinn, Arne. Soft drinks, aspartame, and the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 2012.

Drewnowski, A and others. Comparing the effects of aspartame and sucrose on motivational ratings, taste preferences, and energy intakes in humans. Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 1994.

Kerstein, Sander. Replacing Sugar by Nonnutritive Sweeteners, Nutrition 101 Macronutrients Lesson 3.3, Dr Sander Kirstein, Wageningen University, Netherlands.

MedlinePlus. Aspartame

Rodin, J Comparative effects of fructose, aspartame, glucose, and water preloads on calorie and macronutrient intake, Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 1990.

Schernhammer, Eva S. and others. Consumption of artificial sweetener– and sugar-containing soda and risk of lymphoma and leukemia in men and women. Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 2012.

Spiera PA and other. Aspartame: neuropsychologic and neurophysiologic evaluation of acute and chronic effects. Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 1998.

Stegink, LD. The aspartame story: a model for the clinical testing of a food additive. July 1987.

Stegink, LD and others. Effect of sucrose on the metabolic disposition of aspartame. Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 1990.

Stegink, LD and others. Erythrocyte L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanine hydrolase activity and plasma phenylalanine and aspartate concentrations in children consuming diets high in aspartame. Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 1995.

Swartz, Joe. Debunking the apartame myth.

Turnoff MJ and AM Alleva.  Effect of drinking soda sweetened with aspartame or high-fructose corn syrup on food intake and body weight, Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 1990