Is Aspartame Right for You?

Is Aspartame Right for You?

You may see it marketed as Nutrasweet® or Equal® but aspartame is everywhere. In diet soft drinks, yogurt, even ice cream. There have been mixed messages about whether or not aspartame is a good sugar substitute. A recent study found in the April 2018 issue of the Journal of Nutrition “evaluated the effect of daily aspartame consumption by healthy adults on glycemic responses, appetite, body weight and body composition.”1

What does research say about aspartame?

When you were first diagnosed your physician may have spoken to you about the many low calorie sweetener options that are available on the market. Many of these are marketed not only as low calorie to help with weight maintenance or loss, but also as good alternatives to sugar for people with diabetes. There are many downsides to some of these low calorie sweeteners such as a bad after taste, reports that people experienced increased hunger, and also safety concerns. But “the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Canadian Diabetes Association have stated that (low calorie sweeteners) either moderate or have no effect on postprandial glycemia.”1

The study was performed for 12 weeks with 100 healthy individuals aged 18-60. Blood sugar levels, weight and hunger were assessed at the beginning of the study and at the end of the 12 weeks. People in a group that consumed moderate to high amounts of aspartame did not show any increase in blood glucose levels, hunger, percent body fat or body weight. Although this study did not measure the effects on diabetes, the American Diabetes Association states “Most scientists (as well as the American Diabetes Association) maintain that the powder is a safe alternative to sugar for people with diabetes. One caveat: Aspartame contains phenylalanine, which can be harmful to people with the rare disease phenylketonuria and should be avoided by them.”2

Aspartame has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in foods such as chewing gum and baked goods.  It does not however, make a good sugar substitute when baking as heat changes its composition and leads to decreased sweetness. Baking with any type of low calorie sweetener will give a different product than when using actual sugar. That’s ok! Try a few different substitutes in your favorite recipe to decide which one you like best! If aspartame does not work for you, there are many other low calories sweeteners including sucralose and saccharin.

Be sure to speak with your physician if you have any questions or concerns about which low calorie sweeteners are best for you and the control of your diabetes.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
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