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Aspartame: what it is and when it hurts


Aspartame it is now a commonly used term and it has become as sweeteners have spread and there has also been talk of the possible negative consequences on our health. Today aspartame is found in various food products indicated with the code E951: let's remember to read with pay attention to the label not thinking that one acronym is as good as another.

There is no evidence of overt toxicity such as to remove this substance from the market but in recent years, in the wake of the scientific research carried out on the subject, as food manufacturers have replaced aspartame with other artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose. Then they are better than ours E951 it remains to be seen, but the rules of marketing and the market have decided that aspartame was an enemy.

Aspartame: what it is

It was discovered a long time ago and by chance, in 1965, by the chemist James Schlatter, of G. D. Searle and Company. This substance immediately enjoyed extraordinary commercial success and we find it in foods towards the eighties. In fact, just like today, even then it was recognized as a sweetener and used as food sweetener.

From that time on it was employed on a large scale in soft drinks containing carbonic acid, powdered non-alcoholic drinks, yogurt and products from the confectionery and dietary industries. From a chemical, and less commercial point of view, theaspartame is defined as an artificial dipeptide composed of two common amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine.

Aspartame: carcinogenic?

The first research on this dates back to a long time ago and continues to be done but to date there is no certainty that this substance may be carcinogenic. Officially, despite the fears and urban legends about it, it remains a safe sweetener for both'EFSA (European Authority for Food Safety), and for the FDA (the most important US and world body in charge of regulating food and pharmaceutical products).

Aspartame: contraindications

The fact that it is considered safe and that it is not proven that it can have carcinogenic effects, you are not authorized to use it in an exaggerated way. It is always and in any case one chemical and "sugary" substance. Once ingested it is metabolized into its three components: Aspartic acid, phenylanine and methanol therefore there is a potential for toxicity within it, but the quantities contained in the doses of aspartame found in food does not justify a methanol alarm.

Today, therefore, that contraindications concern only individuals suffering from phenylketonuria who must make a decidedly limited use of aspartame. This is not for methanol, obviously, but for phenylanine contained, always reported also in other foods because it can be dangerous for those with this disease.

The methanol it is too little to make us alarm but it is always better not to overdo the consumption of products that contain this sweetener, especially in childhood.

Sweetener aspartame

It is classified as sweetener and it really is, in a powerful way, since its sweetening power is estimated to be 160-220 times greater than sucrose. As for calories, a number to which everyone is always too careful, we can say that this sweetener it gets about 4 Kcal / gram like any protein. The 4 Kcal per gram they must be thought, however, taking into account that very few quantities of aspartame are enough to sweeten food and drinks, we don't use it in the same doses as sugar, and it is for this reason that those who choose this sweetener obtain a considerable calorie saving.

So here the people at the bar look for the sweetener at the counter and it does not grab cane sugar or "normal" sugar. The flavor of aspartame it is not identical to those of sugar or other sweeteners but it looks a lot like white sugar. At first glance it seems “clean and sweet” and then just sweet, very sweet, without that bitter or metallic aftertaste that other sweeteners may have.

In some foods in which it is used aspartame there is an enhancement of the flavor already present in the base, the taste seems to last longer and be perceived more vividly, this happens especially if it is characteristic of citrus fruits such as lemon, orange and pink grapefruit.

Aspartame: diabetes

There are those who prefer to stay away from this sweetener, without therefore giving up the good old sugar which is not bad at all in moderate quantities, and there are those who have to use aspartame instead. I am referring to people with diabetes who find this in sweetener a substance that softens but it does not significantly alter blood sugar.

An added advantage is that it turned out to be one acaryogenic substance which, unlike saccorose, does not cause cavities.

Aspartame pregnancy

It is not forbidden, despite the gossips, during pregnancy, but it is always good not to overdo it and stay within the recommended dose limit. This is generally true with many artificial substances. It is generally recommended to consume the sweetener in moderate doses to exclude even the most remote dangers, according to EFSA, theat the limit threshold of daily aspartame consumption is fixed at 40 mg for every kilogram of body weight.

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