In this post we are going to answer the question what is aspartame? Aspartame is a synthetic sweetener found predominantly in some soft drinks and chewing gum, certain types of crisps and yoghurts.

What is Aspartame made up of? It contains three components; 50% phenylalanine, 40% aspartic acid and 10% methanol. It is estimated that aspartame is around 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is broken down into its component parts (metabolised) very quickly by the body meaning that it has virtually no calorific value. For this reason, aspartame is most often found in products that are labelled as low calorie, low sugar and diet. Aspartame is also sold as an artificial sweetener under many well known brand names.

what is aspartameIt was initially permitted for use as a non-nutritive sweetener in the UK in 1982. During the past 30 years, there have been several studies into the safety of aspartame as a food additive, meaning it is one of the most thoroughly analysed food ingredients in existence. Aspartame continues to be sanctioned as safe by regulatory bodies across the world, including the Food Standards Agency and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). A comprehensive risk assessment was recently published by EFSA, which stated that aspartame is safe at current levels.

The Food Standards Agency (based in the UK) has a recommended acceptable daily intake (ADI) of aspartame of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day.

This advice is intended to guide people as to how much of an additive they could ingest every day without damaging their health.  The levels at which food additives, such as aspartame, can be used are strictly regulated to avoid over consumption.  It is estimated that an adult would need to consume at least 14 cans of a sugar free drink each day before they exceeded the ADI.

When answering the question what is aspartame, it is important to know that sufferers of phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot have products containing aspartame in their diet. PKU is a rare hereditary disease in which sufferers cannot metabolise (break down) the amino acid phenylalanine.  They must adhere to a limited diet, avoiding any sources of phenylalanine. It is for this reason that products containing aspartame must, by law,  be labelled as ‘a source of phenylalanine’.


We personally feel that it is wise to get used to checking the labels of soft drinks and fruit squashes, as these are often given to children. Despite the fact that aspartame is branded as safe by various official regulatory bodies, we believe there is a lot more to this than what we are told. There are numerous scientific studies and claims of negative side effects from the consumption of aspartame from people all over the world. For this reason we personally choose to cut aspartame out of our diet, believing that we would rather consume natural sugar in moderation rather than an artificial product.

In our next post, we will be looking at aspartame side effects.

If you did not know before, hopefully you will now understand what is aspartame. Please feel free to like, share and comment if you have any views about aspartame.


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