Ok, we give you that you only know about the Artificial Sweetener through the ads on TV with Bipasha Basu swearing by them or Sanjeev Kapoor recommending them; but if you are taking them in place of sugar for weight loss or because you are a diabetic; then you better know what they contain..
We say that because many of the artificial sweeteners that are sold so cleverly by the companies today contain potentially harmful chemicals which have long term consequences. Of course, we are not advising you to give up on the sweeteners but it is better to be aware of the components and the side effects before consumption. So let’s look at what each and every type of Sweetener contains and what are the risks involved in consuming them:
Aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet and SugarFree Gold)
Profile: It’s 200 times sweeter than sugar. 35 mg of aspartame (1 sachet) = 2 teaspoon of Sugar. Aspartame represents 62% of the sweetener market.
Infamous for: It is a sweetener which people love to hate. Commonly causes headaches and migraines with regular consumption over a period of time. It has also shown to increase the incidence of depression in non depressed patient even after consumption within the regular intake limit.
The FDA has investigated the allegations of the side effects and concluded that there is no "reasonable evidence of possible public health harm" and "no consistent or unique patterns of symptoms reported with respect to aspartame that can be causally linked to its use."
Serious Charges: There are complaints of the reactions like panic attacks, mood changes, visual hallucinations, manic episodes, and isolated dizziness after the consumption of Aspartame. On heating it tends to break down to formaldehyde and DKP which are poisonous. Hence it cannot be used in cooking.
The other reactions of aspartame are initiation or aggravation of diabetes mellitus, hypoglycemia, convulsions, headache, depression, hyperthyroidism, hypertension and arthritis; the simulation of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, aspartame addiction; and it is linked to brain tumors. There are even studies which link it to breast cancer and other cancers like one by Environmental health perspective, a European Journal.
The Verdict: It is the most unsafe sweetener and one with most side- effects.
Saccharin (Sweet n’ Low)
Profile: The King of all artificial Sweeteners. Its 125 years old. Was banned in 1977 due to causing bladder cancer in rats but the ban was revoked in 1991 after protests from diabetics and alleged lobbying by the Pharmaceutical companies and was sold with a warning that it can be a carcinogen; in 2000 the warning was also removed. Most recognized brand using saccharin is Sweet ’N Low
Infamous for: The Ban in US after a Study stating that it causes bladder cancer in rats.
Serious Charges: Saccharin is known to cause Eczema and Urticaria or allergic skin rash. It can also concentrate in the placenta so the intake is restricted in pregnant women.
The Verdict: Ban on saccharin is revoked but it still features on the list of carcinogens by National Institute of Health. So it is still unsafe for consumption.
Profile: Neotame is the technical name for a new sweetener developed by Monsanto Chemical Corp. It is reported to be approximately 8,000-13,000 times sweeter than sugar. It is claimed that as the patent of Aspartame was running out, Monsato developed neotame. It was approved in 2002 by FDA but not accepted in Europe.
Infamous for: Being very similar to aspartame, Neotame is feared and alleged to be more toxic than Aspartame. As of now, not even a single independent test has been conducted on neotame. Yet it is used in several food products.
Serious Charges: Some of the concerns are neurotoxin and immune toxic damage after consumption.
The Verdict: There have to be long term, independent studies to examine its effects and the products should list neotame as an ingredient in the product to warn the users.