What are sugar substitutes?
A sugar substitute is a food additive that provides a sweet taste with a reduced number of calories. Low-calorie sweeteners can serve as a sugar substitute because it provides consumers with a sweet taste without the calories or carbohydrates. Because these sweeteners are much sweeter than sucrose, the amounts needed to achieve the desired sweetness are so small that they are considered virtually non-caloric. Aspartame is one of the many low-calorie sweeteners (sugar substitutes) in the United States.
I’ve heard that aspartame can cause serious health problems. Is that true?
With more than 200 studies attesting to its safety, aspartame is one of the most researched food additives in the world and has a long history of safe use. A thorough review of the research by The European Food Safety Authority released in 2013 concluded that aspartame is safe for the general population including infants, children and pregnant women. Scientists from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have also reviewed the scientific data regarding the safety of aspartame in food and concluded that it is safe for the general population. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, aspartame is one of the most exhaustively studied substances in the human food supply.
Since aspartame contains phenylalanine, aspartame is not recommended for individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare hereditary disease, who have difficulty in metabolizing phenylalanine.