Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sweeteners 101: Know your Sugar Substitutes, Part 2: Zero Calorie Sweeteners

Nonnutritive Sweeteners aka zero calorie sweeteners have been sold commercially for almost three decades. I am often asked if these sweeteners are carcinogenic (cancer causing). However, the truth is, it much more difficult to determine than many would assume.  First, based on all of the clinical studies to date, there is very little direct evidence that these sweeteners are harmful to humans. However, I won’t go running to cosco to stock up on Sweet-n -low™ just yet...

Let’s investigate; here is (a brief summery) of the most popular artificial nonnutritive sweeteners:

Aspartame (NutraSweet™ and Equal™): 180 times sweeter than sugar. Was discovered by accident in a lab in the 60’s. The sweetness of aspartame is derived from the synthetic combination of the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine.  

Saccharin (Sweet-n-low™): is 500 times sweeter than sugar.  Like aspartame, saccharine was discovered by accident in a laboratory in 1879.  Saccharin, the most controversial of the artificial sweeteners, was banned in the 70’s due to a Canadian study that linked saccharin to bladder cancer in rats.  However the rats were consuming exceptionally high quantities, the equivalent of a human drinking 800 diet sodas per day! Yikes!!

Sucralose (Splenda™):  Is 600 times sweeter than regular sugar was approved by the FDA in the 80’s.  Sucralose is manufactured as a chemical alteration of sugar cane.  Splenda™ become popular through its initial ads where it claimed that it came from real sugar. Soon after, the makers of saccharine sued Splenda for not making an accurate claim in their ads. Later, Splenda removed this claim from their advertising campaign.

Although the FDA generally recognizes these as safe (GRAS), there is also a cap to the daily-recommended consumption. In conclusion, like any other food, especially any artificial foods, moderation  (my personal mantra) is my best suggestion. 

Eat Mindfully,

© Kate Ezra Wolf, 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment