Artificial sweeteners are synthetic substances that are used to sweeten foods and beverages without adding calories or increasing blood sugar levels. They are often used as a substitute for sugar in a variety of products, including diet and sugar-free foods, beverages, and tabletop sweeteners.
There are several different types of artificial sweeteners that are approved for use in the United States, including:
Aspartame: A low-calorie sweetener that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is commonly used in diet soda and other low-calorie products. Aspartame is made from two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, and is broken down in the body into these two components as well as a small amount of methanol.
Saccharin: A low-calorie sweetener that is about 200-700 times sweeter than sugar. It is commonly used in tabletop sweeteners and other products. Saccharin is a derivative of the chemical compound benzoic sulfinide, and it is not metabolized by the body.
Sucralose: A low-calorie sweetener that is about 600 times sweeter than sugar. It is commonly used in tabletop sweeteners and other products. Sucralose is made from sugar, but it has been modified to make it resistant to digestion by the body, so it is not absorbed and does not provide calories.
Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K): A low-calorie sweetener that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is commonly used in combination with other sweeteners in a variety of products. Ace-K is a derivative of acetoacetic acid, and it is not metabolized by the body.
Artificial sweeteners are generally considered to be safe for most people to consume when they are used in moderation. However, some people may be sensitive to artificial sweeteners or have an adverse reaction to them. In addition, there has been some controversy over the safety of certain artificial sweeteners, with some studies suggesting that they may have potential health risks.
For example, some studies have suggested that aspartame may be linked to a variety of health issues, including headaches, mood changes, and allergic reactions, although the evidence supporting these claims is mixed. Other studies have suggested that artificial sweeteners may have a negative impact on gut health, although more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Despite these concerns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies around the world have determined that artificial sweeteners are generally safe for use in food and beverages. However, it is always a good idea to talk to a healthcare professional before adding artificial sweeteners to your diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are pregnant or breastfeeding.