What is aspartame and other Qs & As
Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetening ingredient that tastes like sugar and is used in many foods we consume every day, including carbonated beverages, dairy products, fruit spreads, chewing gums and candies. It is also used as a tabletop sweetener. Aspartame can replace up to 99 percent of the calories in soft drinks. Without this sweetening ingredient, the great taste of many of today's low calorie products would not be possible.
Here are the answers to questions that are sometimes asked about aspartame.
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What is aspartame?
Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetening ingredient that tastes like sugar. It is made from two building blocks of protein just like those found naturally in many everyday foods such as meat, fish, cheese, eggs and milk. When we eat or drink products with aspartame, it is broken down into very small amounts of common dietary components. Aspartame does not, therefore, bring anything new to our diet.
What does aspartame taste like?
Aspartame tastes like sugar and has no bitter aftertaste. This means that foods containing aspartame enable us to enjoy the same sweet taste as sugar, but as part of a healthier, lower calorie diet.
What kind of products contain aspartame?
Aspartame can be found in a variety of food products including:
||Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, squashes, iced teas and coffees and hot chocolate drinks.
||Yoghurts, dairy desserts and fromage frais.
||Chewing gum, sweets, chocolate, breath mints.
||Tablets and spoon-for-spoon powders.
||Ice cream and frozen snacks.
||Powdered soft drinks, milkshake mixes, and multivitamin drinks.
||Cereal mixes, mueslis.
||Fruit preserves, canned fruits.
||Effervescent tablets, chewable tablets and sachets.
How sweet is aspartame?
Products with aspartame have the same level of sweeteness as regular products containing sugar. Because only very small quantities of aspartame are required to ensure an excellent sweet taste, you can save a lot of calories. For example, a can of soft drink sweetened with sugar contains between 100 and 150 Calories, compared to only one or two Calories in a can of soft drink sweetened with aspartame.
What are the benefits of aspartame?
Aspartame is the ideal alternative to sugar with virtually no calories. It is of special benefit to diabetics and slimmers, and to all of us who want to maintain a well-balanced healthy diet. In addition, since it is sugar-free, aspartame contributes to good dental health.
Is aspartame safe for everyone?
Aspartame is one of the most thoroughly tested ingredients in our food supply. It has been approved by health and regulatory authorities in 100 countries. Numerous organizations, including experts of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the use of aspartame in food and drinks. Aspartame is safe for the general population, including pregnant women and nursing mothers, children, diabetics and slimmers.
How is aspartame used?
Aspartame is one of the most widely used sweetening ingredients in the world. Products sweetened with aspartame make an enjoyable contribution to a healthier diet. For example, by using table-top sweeteners to sweeten hot and cold drinks, such as tea, coffee and home made lemonade, you can reduce both your calorie and carbohydrate intake. Products sweetened with aspartame can also be used in recipes for sweet and savoury low calorie foods and drinks that can be made at home.
Why do products which contain aspartame have the label 'Contains a source of phenylalanine' on the packaging?
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid (which means that our bodies cannot make at and we must obtain from our diet). It is also one of the buildiong blocks of protein used to make aspartame. Phenylalanine is found in all protein-containing foods including milk, cheese, eggs, meat and fish.
Products which contain aspartame have a label which says 'Contains a source of phenylalanine'. This label is there to help people with a rare inherited disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU). These people cannot metabolise phenylalanine from any source and need to control their intake of this amino acid. PKU affects approximately 1 in 10,000 people, and is identified by screening shortly after birth. For people who do not suffer from phenylketonuria, phenylalanine is a normal and essential part of the diet.
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