Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes often get a bad rap, but are they really as bad as they are made out to be? The results of a recent study suggests that maybe they aren’t; good news for all of us with sweet tooths. In the study three sweeteners were used to determine the effects on food intake, satiety, and glucose and insulin levels.
Researchers used sucrose, stevia and aspartame in the study. Stevia, a plant used as a natural sugar substitute, has come into popularity fairly recently in the United States, but has been used for centuries in South and Central America. The US Food and Drug Administration placed stevia on their Generally Recognized as Safe list. Any concern about the safety of stevia consumption comes from the eating and drinking excessive amounts, not from casual use.
It’s still Aspartame. Reminiscent of the recent High Fructose Corn Syrup name change, possibly in an effort to change our opinions, Aspartame will now be referred to as AminoSweet. Don’t fall for a more “natural” name – this stuff is still bad news. Hopes are that by using a more natural sounding name, consumers will feel more at ease with its pervasive use in more than 6,000 products.
Originally introduced more than 25 years ago, this “accidental discovery” has quickly taken over the food industry. Two naturally-occurring amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine) were first combined in an effort to produce an anti-ulcer drug. Pharmacist James Schlatter discovered that the new compound had a very sweet taste. The company was granted a change on its FDA approval application from drug to food additive. Thus, aspartame was born.