Aspartame is one of the sweeteners that is tolerated by intestinal fructose intolerance. And aspartame is one of the sweeteners that is often described as carcinogenic or otherwise hazardous to health. But is that true? I will explore this question in the following blog post.
What is aspartame?
Aspartame (E951) has been approved as a food additive for around 30 years. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar and low in calories. Aspartame is therefore used as a sweetener.
During digestion, aspartame is broken down into the amino acids aspartic acid, phenylalanine and alcohol (methanol). However, methanol does not really occur in relevant quantities. Phenylalanine is a so-called essential amino acid, i.e. our body needs it to survive, but cannot produce it itself and must absorb it from food. Aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid, i.e. our body produces it itself. Of course, they can also be supplied through food.
From a purely chemical point of view, aspartame would therefore be completely harmless.
Special case phenylalanine
Phenylalanine can cause problems for some people. This applies to people who suffer from phenylketonuria (PKU). Those affected are unable to break down phenylalanine, as a result of which this amino acid accumulates in the body. Certain substances then develop, leading to a severe mental developmental disorder and even epilepsy. However, PKU is already tested in newborns in newborn screening, i.e. nobody gets this hereditary disease as an adult.
The studies on this sweetener are extremely good. Hardly any other additive has been researched so much. As aspartame and its alleged carcinogenic effects were repeatedly on everyone’s lips, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA ) re-evaluated all the studies available at the time in 2013. The sa…