One of the most frequent questions that I get asked is how much artificial sweetener can I safely consume? Since many people have asked me about this, I decided to write about it and share the facts. Below is a list of artificial sweeteners that have been approved by the FDA in the United States.
Artificial Sweeteners Approved in the U.S:
Saccharin– Sweet N Low
Aspartame– Equal or Nutrasweet
Acesulfame Potassium– Sunnet, Sweet One
Advantame– Used in dairy, frozen desserts, beverages and gum
What about Stevia?
Stevia has not been approved of by the FDA for use as an artificial sweetener. It can be sold as a “supplement” because generally supplements are not evaluated by the FDA.
So why are people concerned about cancer and artificial sweeteners?
In the 1970’s studies in labs linked saccharin with the development of bladder cancer.
-These links were in RATS only. Researchers studied the mechanics and how the substances worked on the body. The bladder tumors seen in rats were caused by a mechanism not relevant to humans and there is no evidence that saccharin causes cancer in humans. This is why saccharin is no longer listed as a carcinogen (cancer causing).
In 1996, a report suggested there was a link between brain tumors and aspartame.
-An analysis of statistics showed that the overall incidence of brain and nervous system cancers began to rise in 1973, 8 years prior to the approval of aspartame.
-A study conducted in 2005, found more lymphomas and leukemias in rats fed very high doses of aspartame, but there were some inconsistencies in the studies.
-Human data was also studied and no links were found between aspartame and the development of lymphoma, leukemia, or brain cancer.
There has been no sound scientific evidence that the approved artificial sweeteners cause cancer in humans.
In the studies, researchers give rats EXTREMELY high doses.
What is an Acceptable intake limit?
United States-50 mg/kg/day
A 150 pound adult could safely consume ~ 3409 mg/day
This adult would have to consume 17 cans of soda or more than 75 packets of Equal to go over the recommended level.
United States-15 mg/kg/day
This is ~45 packets of Sweet’ N Low
United States- 5 mg/kg/day
This is equivalent to about 23 packets of Splenda.
United States- 15 mg/kg/day
This is equivalent to about 23 Sweet One Packets.
So what’s the point?
MODERATION!!! – Based on current research, having a small amount of artificial sweeteners daily shouldn’t have any adverse effects. Even “healthy” things can be unhealthy for you with excess consumption.
The question you are dying to ask….Do I use artificial sweeteners? The answer is that I occasionally use them. Most of the time when I sweeten something such as my coffee, I use regular sugar. The main reason is because 1.) I am able to use it only in moderation (meaning I don’t over-do it!) and 2.) I personally don’t enjoy the taste of artificial sweeteners. But if you are a type 2 diabetic, a bariatric patient or just unable to moderate your sugar intake and are currently trying to lose weight then I would recommend switching to an artificial sweetener that you enjoy!
Exception!!! (there is always an exception) There is one group of people who can’t eat all artificial sweeteners: those with phenylketonuria (or PKU). People with PKU aren’t able to metabolize phenylalanine, an amino acid in aspartame, so they’re advised to steer clear of aspartame.