Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is used for replacing sugar in desserts and other sweet items such as cookies and pancakes. This food additive although has been approved by the FDA, a lot of controversy regarding its use in the food has been making rounds ever since its acceptance by the FDA. This is majorly because there is a popular belief that its acceptance was more influenced by financial and political pressures than health concerns. So is Aspartame really harmful and if yes, what should you do to avoid it? The answers are right here!
Is Aspartame Harmful?
Aspartame has been approved by more than 200 scientific researches and studies. And a number of studies have in the recent years denoted that use of aspartame can cause long term side effects. Some of the health conditions with which Aspartame is associated include:
- Fatigue, weakness
- Sleep disorders
- Visual changes
- Joint Pain
- Leukaemia, lymphomas and brain cancer
- Neurological symptoms such as seizures, anxious mood, depression, headaches, dizziness, hallucinations and memory loss
- Hives and rashes
- Diabetes and weight gain
- Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps
Experts believe that such an additive that can lead to the development of so many serious diseases should never be allowed on the market and it is a cause of great health concern. Identifying aspartame is very difficult as it comes disguised in different labels and brands such as AminoSweet and Neotame.
This is a very difficult task, but if you know the right way to trace aspartame, you will eventually get used to finding its presence in the food products that are available in the market. Here are some of the identifying methods:
- Aspartame is present in products that is loaded with sugar. So, when you pick up such products look out for the type of sugar substitutes used.
- Aspartame is used in place of sugar because it carries fewer calories. Hence, the products that are promoted as low calorie food also have good chances of containing aspartame. So, check for its presence on the food labels.
- One of the best ways is to start with checking the ‘health’ foods carrying low calorie sweetener such as Equal or NutraSweet yogurt, soft drinks, hot cocoa mix, breath candy and mints, cold medicines, vitamins, gelatin, pudding and more. Most of the times aspartame is listed in the ingredients list.
- While checking the food labels, do not check in the list of nutrition facts as aspartame is not listed there because it do not provide any nutrient.
- It is not necessary that you will find this food additive directly by its name-aspartame; it can be easily disguised among other ingredients. For example, if you find the mention of ‘contains Phenylalanine’ in the list of ingredients it means that aspartame is hidden in it.
- Always check the ingredients of sweet products closely and you are sure to find aspartame hidden in one of the ingredient lists.
- Sodas of all types are bad for your health-be it a regular or diet soda because almost all the sodas contain aspartame or has the label –contains phenylalanine.
- Cereal foods, iced tea, medicine, sugar-free gum always contains aspartame. So, avoiding these products and replacing them with lemon and water and natural coconut water is a much better idea.
- Chewing gum has aspartame in good amount. So stop using chewing gum completely.
- Make your own tea and other beverages and do not add any artificial sweeteners. Although, you may miss the sweet taste, but they are much healthier than canned or bottled tea. These food products often have aspartame and similar other sweeteners.
- Choosing 100 percent organic food is a good idea as you are sure of getting food products that are free from GMOs, pesticides, additives and aspartame.
Aspartame can cause long-term side effects and its use should be avoided, especially during pregnancy or nursing as it can affect the health of the infant badly. Also in case, you suffer from phenylketonuria or PKU, a rare genetic disease you should not use products containing aspartame.