A synthetic sweetener that was first released in 1981, aspartame is one of the most popular of its type available on the market today. Consisting of two amino acids, aspartic and phenylalanine, this sweetener is used in many different foods and beverages and has garnered a solid reputation as an alternative to sugar. However, despite its fame and longevity, aspartame is not without controversy. Here are the pros and cons of aspartame as its use as a sugar substitute.
The Pros of Aspartame
1. Prevent Cavities
There is nothing in aspartame that causes the decay of tooth enamel like sugar. Therefore, it can be consumed without the fear of creating cavities.
2. Management and Prevention of Diabetes
Because the amino acids in aspartame are not carbohydrates or sugars, they are well suited for diabetics to use as sweeteners. Diabetics can safely substitute sugar products with aspartame without fear of heightening their blood sugar counts. Plus, those who are borderline when it comes to diabetes can help avoid the disease by replacing sugar with this substitute.
3. Lose Weight
Because it is a synthetic product made from natural amino acids, it provides up to 200 times the sweetness of sugar with zero calories. Because there are no calories and only a little of the substance is needed to sweeten foods and beverages, it can help people lose weight by avoiding sugar products. However, it also must be said that some research indicates that instead of losing weight, aspartame might actually cause people to gain weight depending on how much is consumed.
The Cons of Aspartame
1. Unwanted Side Effects
There are a number of potential side effects that aspartame has caused over the years with most of them being mild, but still unwanted and with the potential to be more serious. Such side effects include, but are not limited to the following:
- Abdominal Pain, Dizziness, Nausea and Vomiting.
- Change in Temper, Memory Loss, Headache and Change in Vision.
- Fatigue and Diarrhea.
There have also been more serious side effects associated with aspartame that include depression, psychological issues, joint pain, systemic lupus, fibromyalgia symptoms and even certain cancers although these are rare symptoms of the product.
2. Increasing Hunger
Some studies have shown that consuming aspartame will actually increase the hunger and result in eating more food to compensate which goes against the purpose of the substitute.
3. Conflicting Research
Basically, the research itself on the product has not been very consistent and the results have been all over the place when it comes to side effects, health issues and the like. While the FDA has concluded that aspartame is safe to use, there is a great deal that remains unknown about the overall effects of the product itself.