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Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe?

Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, are substances that are used instead of sucrose (table sugar) to sweeten foods and beverages. Artificial sweeteners are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Food Additives Amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which was passed by Congress in 1958, requires the FDA to approve food additives, including artificial sweeteners, before they can be made available for sale in the United States.


-Aspartame, sold under the brand names NutraSweet® and Equal®

-Saccharin, sold under the brand name Sweet’N Low®

-Sucralose, sold under the brand name Splenda®

-Acesulfame K (or acesulfame potassium), produced by Hoechst, a German chemical company; widely used in foods, beverages, and pharmaceutical products around the world.

-Neotame, produced by the NutraSweet Company; most recent addition to

FDA’s list of approved artificial sweeteners; used in diet soft drinks and low-calorie foods.

The following is a list of symptoms associated with the consumption of Aspartame.2. Fortunately, out of these symptoms are alleviated once Aspartame use is discontinued.


Anxiety attacks


Hearing loss

Edema or swelling

Eye problems

Blurred vision

Skin lesions

Slurred speech

Memory loss



Personality changes


Gastrointestinal disorders



Increased appetite

Mood changes

Heart arrhythmia


Joint pain

Chest pain


Menstrual irregularities

Numbness and tingling of extremities

Mild to suicidal depression

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners on the market in the United States are related to cancer risk in humans. However, numerous studies performed on laboratory rats have linked aspartame and saccharin to cancer, including a seven-year study conducted by a major nonprofit oncology lab in Italy.4

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on the other hand, cautions everyone to avoid aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame K because they are unsafe when consumed in large amounts or are very poorly tested and not worth the risk. The CSPI lists neotame and sucralose as safe.

Aspartame is of particular concern because it contains phenylalanine (50%), aspartic acid (40%), and methanol (10%), three well-recognized neurotoxins. Stevia-based sweeteners in the form of Truvia and PureVia have been rapidly replacing aspartame-sweetened products. However, due to health concerns cited in literature,5 the

FDA has not approved the use of whole-leaf Stevia or crude Stevia extracts as food additives. On the other hand, a “no objection” approval on the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list of additives was given to its extracts known as Truvia, a sweet-tasting compound found in products like Coca-Cola, and Cargill and PureVia, typically found in PepsiCo products. Although Stevia has not retained an official “approval,” it is allowed to be marketed and sold as a dietary supplement. The popularity of this product continues to increase because of its zero calorie content and score of zero on the glycemic index. Nevertheless, the use of artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar remains a controversial topic and conflicting research remains.

  1. Artificial Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes – Mayo Clinic 2. Reported Aspartame Toxicity Effects – Food and Drug Administration, Mark D. Gold 3. Aspartame Promotes Grand Mal Seizures, Say Health Experts –, Dani Veracity 4. The Lowdown on Sweet? – The New York Times, Melanie Warner 5. Toxicology of Rebaudioside: A Review – Sarah Kobylewski and Curtis D. Eckhert, PhD; UCLA

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance.

© 2010, 2016 Integrative Nutrition, Inc. | Reprinted with permission

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