Aspartame is an artificial sweetener composed of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It is about 180 times sweeter than sugar and contains about four calories per gram. NutraSweet® is the trade name for one manufacturer's products that contain aspartame (see http://www.nutrasweet.com).
More than 200 scientific studies have established the safety of aspartame. Conducted over the past 25 years by researchers at universities and health organizations throughout the world, these studies were rigorously reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration before aspartame was first approved for use in products. The FDA's approval has been supported by many regulatory agencies and medical associations around the world. In addition, FDA has reaffirmed the safety of aspartame 26 times over the past 23 years for use in different types of foods and beverages.1
Because it breaks down when heated, aspartame is not recommended for baking. When used in cooking, it is usually added after foods are heated. Aspartame is commonly used in sugar-free soft drinks, gum, and candy. Heat-stable versions of aspartame are under development.
Since aspartame contains phenylalanine, it should not be used by persons with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare disease. In addition, some people are sensitive to aspartame and report headaches and other ill effects from its use. But for most people, aspartame is fine in moderate amounts.
Equal® Sweetner Conversion Chart1
2 teaspoons 1 packet about 1/4 teaspoon 2 teaspoons 1 tablespoon 1 1/2 packets 1/2 teaspoon 1 tablespoon 1/4 cup 6 packets 1 3/4 teaspoons 1/4 cup 1/3 cup 8 packets 2 1/2 teaspoons 1/3 cup 1/2 cup 12 packets 3 1/2 teaspoons 1/2 cup 3/4 cup 18 packets 5 1/2 teaspoons 3/4 cup 1 cup 24 packets 7 1/4 teaspoons 1 cup 1 pound 57 packets 5 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. 2 1/4 cup
1Images and information from the NutraSweet Company.
For More Information
- Comments by Dr. Robert Moser, medical consultant for The NutraSweet Kelco Company
- FDA Statement on Aspartame
- Study reaffirms safety of aspartame, from the Massachusettes Institute of Technology
- Aspartame Urban Legends and Folklore
- Rebuttal to "Nancy Markle" e-mail about Nutrasweet by the FDA
- Health and Safety links about aspartame from Nutrasweet.com.
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