Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1974, Aspartame is one of the most common and widely used artificial sweeteners available today. Made by joining together the two amino acids – aspartic acid and phenylalanine, Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar and has fewer calories, which makes it a popular additive in foods and beverages. A teaspoon of Aspartame contains only 2 calories as compared to 16 calories in a teaspoon of sugar. This is partly because Aspartame is a protein derivative while sugar is a carbohydrate which, when broken down by our bodies, gets stored as fat if not immediately utilized. Aspartame, because of its protein base on the other hand, is an effective sugar substitute for people trying to reduce or eliminate sugar from their diets. With more than 100 studies supporting its safe use, Aspartame is also one of the most exhaustively studies substances in the human food supply chain. It is a boon for people trying to watch their weight or limit their food intake.
Most fast foods and processed foods have Aspartame added to them. Most diet drinks add Aspartame for sweetness. This is an advantage only as long as people know how much to consume. If a person gives up sugar but continues to consume junk food, the advantage of Aspartame over sugar is beaten. For example, if a person orders a diet coke in order to cut down on sugar intake but combines the drink with a full meal including fries, the purpose of Aspartame providing less calories is beaten because the calories are being replaced through the meal and fries. Thus, while Aspartame-based artificial sweeteners are a healthier alternative, it is only possible for them to be effective if they are combined with sensible and healthy eating habits in order to make a significant, positive change in one’s life.