When we buy drinks or foods that are said to contain zero or low calories, we usually see that it contains no sugar. However, most of these drinks still taste sweet. This is because artificial sweeteners are being added in replacement of regular sugar. These sweeteners are used as substitutes since they do not contain any calories despite their sugar-like taste. One of the most common artificial sweeteners is none other than Aspartame. What is aspartame and what are the aspartame ingredients?
Facts about Aspartame and its Composition
Aspartame is otherwise known as L-alpha-aspartyl-L-phenylalanine methyl ester. Aspartame resembles more like a simple white powder. This substance is made up of two kinds of amino acids and methanol. When it is digested by the body, aspartame will be reduced into these three parts. As some of us know, amino acids are normally the breakdown products of protein. Aspartame also has a chemical formula which is C14H18N2O. This formula denotes that it contains 14 atoms of Carbon, 18 atoms of Hydrogen, 2 atoms of Nitrogen and an atom for Oxygen.
Uses of Aspartame
Just like what is mentioned earlier, aspartame is considered a low-calorie sweetener that is used in many foods and drinks as a substitute to sugar. In fact, aspartame is even 160 to 200 times sweeter than regular sugar and because of this, only small amounts of aspartame is required to sweeten a product. Typically 180 milligrams of aspartame is already enough to sweeten 12 ounce of low calorie soft drink. However, once mixed in acid solutions and placed in high temperatures, the aspartame tends to lose its sweetness.
Hazards in the Use of Aspartame
Despite being an established component of many low calorie and sugar free foods and beverages, issues with regards to the hazardous effects of aspartame to health are still being debated. Nevertheless, the safety of the use of aspartame has been affirmed by the US FDA 26 times over the past 23 years. Nowadays, aspartame is already consumed by approximately 200 million people all over the world. This substance is also found in more than 6,000 products including carbonated drinks, power drinks, confections, gelatin’s, dessert mixes, puddings and fillings, yogurt, tabletop sweeteners, chewing gums and other pharmaceutical products such as vitamins and as well as sugar free cough drops. However, some countries including the United States requires the inclusion of aspartame in the food labels of all foods and drinks that contain it.
Aspartame as a table top sweetener can also be used in a lot of recipes. However, aspartame should not be over cooked since this can cause its loss of sweetness. Because of this, aspartame is best used in recipes that require only the sweeteners after the food is already heated.
Negative Effects of Aspartame
Aside from the hazards mentioned above, aspartame can also cause the following to occur:
- Aspartame can break down to its poison constituents when it reaches the temperature of 86 degrees. This can disintegrate into 40% Aspartic Acids, 50% Phenylalanine and 10% Methanol. In addition to this, the stomach is considered 98.6 degrees in temperature and once it is mixed with cooked foods or desserts such as Jello, aspartame can become dangerous. Because of this many people question the approval of the use of aspartame by the FDA. Many even believed that the burning mouth syndrome experienced by many troops by the dessert storm is a result Methanol poisoning from drinking too much Diet Coke and being exposed to desert heat.
- The methanol produced by Aspartame once subjected to high temperatures is similar to the alcohol in lacquer thinner that can possibly cause blindness.
- The 40% Aspartic Acid component is also considered as an excitotoxin in the brain which can cause too much excitement to the neurons which can eventually cause them death. This can also cause nerve damage to the body.
- The use of Aspartame is also found out to increase the incidence of migraine headaches.
- Aspartame’s breakdown products cause the body tissues to create formaldehyde which can accumulate in the tissues forever. Formaldehyde is a type of chemical that is used in dissecting frogs. This substance is also possible to cause cancer.
- This artificial sweetener can also breakdown into diketopiperazine of DKP, which is a component that can also increase the risk for brain tumors. Studies have shown that a large population of rats developed brain tumors after being exposed to aspartame.
These are some of the important facts with regards to the ingredients, components and the use of aspartame. As we can see, aspartame can definitely prevent us from taking it too many calories; however, the price of this can also be brutal since it can heighten the risks of having a lot of disease such as cancer. So when it comes to using this artificial sweetener, it would be wise to weigh all the factors before making any decision.