Aspartame Vs. Sucralose: Which Is Better?

Aspartame and sucralose are two types of sweeteners that have minimal calories and are way sweeter than regular sugar, meaning you can use much less of it to achieve the desired sweetness. Aspartame and sucralose gained popularity because you can have less of one or the other all the while cutting out sugar from your diet, as numerous studies have shown the detrimental effects of sugar on overall health.

Aspartame was first approved by the FDA in 1981 to be used as a tabletop sweetener, as well as in chewing gum, cold breakfast cereals, and dry bases for certain foods like beverages, instant coffees, gelatins, etc. In 1983, aspartame was approved to be used in carbonated beverages, and in 1996, it was approved as a general purpose sweetener. When heated, aspartame looses its sweetness, so it is not ideal for baking.

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There are over 100 studies for aspartame, its use, and its safety. The FDA concluded that aspartame is safe for the general public, but individuals with hereditary diseases like phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot take aspartame, and product labels should list aspartame as an ingredient.

Sucralose was approved as a general sweetener for 15 food categories in 1998. Sucralose is found in a variety of foods and beverages, and unlike aspartame, it is stable in heat. Sucralose has been extensively studied, and the FDA has deemed it safe for the general public. The FDA stated, “In determining the safety of sucralose, the FDA reviewed data from more than 110 studies in humans and animals. Many of the studies were designed to identify possible toxic effects, including carcinogenic, reproductive, and neurological effects. No such effects were found, and FDA’s approval is based on the finding that sucralose is safe for human consumption.”

Aspartame and sucralose approval by health-related organizations

Aspartame has been approved by numerous health-related organizations including the FDA, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization, American Heart Association, and the American Dietetic Association. The European Food Safety Authority reviewed over 600 studies on aspartame and did not find any reason to ban it from foods and beverages. And yet, even with these many approvals, there is still controversy when it comes to sweeteners, as other varieties were shown to contribute to cancer.

Sucralose is approved by the FDA, the European Food Safety Authority, Health Canada, Food Standards Australia/New Zealand, Japanese Food Sanitation Council, and The Joint (Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA).

Sucralose has been deemed safe for use for all individuals, including children and pregnant women, as well as diabetics, as it does not have an effect on glucose levels.

Aspartame vs. sucralose side effects

sweetnere sugarBecause it is 200 times sweeter than sugar, aspartame is only required in small amounts to achieve desired sweetness. The maximum recommended daily dosage for aspartame is 50 mg per kilogram of body weight according to the FDA, and 40 mg per kilogram of body weight according to EFSA (European Food and Safety Agency). An average soda can contains 185 mg of aspartame, so a 68-kilogram individual would have to drink over 18 cans of soda to exceed the recommended FDA amount.

Aspartame is most dangerous for individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU), and schizophrenia patients should also avoid the sweetener. For schizophrenics who suffer from Tardive dyskinesia (TD), which is a side effect of schizophrenia medications, adverse effects due to aspartame consumption include cancer, seizures, headaches, depression, attention deficit disorder, dizziness, weight gain, birth defects, lupus, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

There have also been other health claims regarding aspartame, including digestive issues, changes in mood, headache, dizziness, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, but the research on these claims have been inconclusive.

Sucralose has not been found to pose a risk to glucose or insulin levels, but this may be dependent on the individual. A small study found that obese individuals who did not regularly consume artificial sweeteners reported elevated blood sugar levels by 14 percent and insulin by 20 percent. Studies that show no changes to insulin or glucose are generally conducted on normal weight individuals who are accustomed to consuming sucralose.

Furthermore, sucralose has been found to be stable in heat, but studies have begun to challenge this notion as in high temperatures sucralose breaks down to become a harmful substance. Although additional research is required, for now it’s best to refrain from cooking with sucralose above 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sucralose has also been found to negatively affect gut health and lead to weight gain even as a zero-calorie sweetener.

The exact side effects of aspartame and sucralose are still a controversial topic of discussion, and research regarding these two sweeteners is ongoing. It’s best you pay attention to your own body to see if either sweetener is right for you.