I love aspartame. I love Acesulfame K. I love most artificial sweeteners, actually. But it’s only been in recent years that I realised that a huge number of people don’t, and that the idea that aspartame is toxic or otherwise dangerous has been around for ages. Okay, sure, aspartame is an artificial sweetener and some people just hate anything that is artificial, but is aspartame dangerous?
Aspartame has been researched a lot. All sweeteners have. Aspartame is approved for consumption by the USA’s Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority. It is safe to consume. No matter what your hippy aunt on Faccebook tells you. Aspartame in particular is one of the more rigorously tested food substances around. If there was something dangerous about it, then we would have noticed by now. Actually, we would have definitely have noticed because aspartame is present in a LOT of foodstuffs and if it caused cancer or any of the nasty things aspartame-haters say it causes, then we’d all probably have cancer right now. But we don’t. There have been other things, such as aspartame causing headaches or affecting breast milk, but none of these have been conclusive.
Well, there are two scenarios where aspartame and its friends can be dangerous. You’re not supposed to consume aspartame if you are taking medication for schizophrenia. If you have phenylketonuria, you shouldn’t consume anything with phenylalanine, which aspartame contains. Those two things don’t make aspartame dangerous. But that’s like claiming all peanuts are dangerous because they can kill people with peanut allergies.
And no, aspartame was never developed to be used as an ant-killer. In fact, the only reason I’m bringing this up is because there was a hoax suggesting that it was developed as an ant-killer posted on a website called The Spoof. Come on, that is so obviously a spoof, people. Not a SPUF though. We’re SPUF. Although I’ve always considered making a SPUF offshoot filled with fake stories, just for laughs.
Anyway, back to aspartame.
There is one other way that aspartame is possibly dangerous, and that is if you consume a LOT of it. It takes like 15 cans of diet soda to reach the maximum recommended daily allowance (as mentioned here) (actually I offered that link but it had a sidebar article about 11 superfoods that might save your life and that’s probably as bullshit as this article is) but if you’re drinking over 15 cans of soda a day in general then there’s something else wrong with you.
The thing is, aspartame is an option. If you don’t like aspartame, then don’t eat it. But for me as a diabetic, it lets me have sugar-free variants of things like cola and lemonade without having massive spikes to my blood sugar. Sure, I could just do without sugary things, but I like to have options.
In fact, everyone should have options. Why should I go without just because others don’t like aspartame? You don’t see me complaining about lactose-free milk or gluten-free buns, so leave my damn diet cola alone.I have few enough options as it is, what with everything secretly having sugar in it.
As an aside, that’s actually why I like Monster, the energy drink brand. It’s the ONLY locally available brand with more than one sugar-free flavour.
You know what ISN’T that good for you though? Agave syrup. Or agave nectar as it’s sometimes called. It’s basically sugar but worse. It does the same thing sugar does but contains more calories. In fact, you get that with a lot of fructose-based sweeteners, because people forget that fructose is still sugar.
Until proven otherwise though, I’m sticking with my aspartame and other artificial sweeteners.