Artificial sweeteners are a food additive that is used to mimic the taste of sugar. They usually contain less calories and some have a sweeter flavor than sugar. They are frequently used as weight control, and diabetic patients. They are also used for dental reasons, since they are considered more tooth-friendly than sugar.
There are numerous ongoing claims as to the health risks of artificial sweeteners. The United States has approved only six sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium, and stevia)
Acesulfame potassium (E 950) or Ace K is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose. It has been known to have a bitter aftertaste. There has been some concern over whether Acesulfame is carcinogenic and has been shown to stimulate insulin secretion in laboratory rats, but has been approved by the US FDA.
Aspartame (E 951) is a non-saccharide sweetener that is approximately 200 times sweeter than sucrose. It is the closest of all artificial sweeteners to the flavor of sugar. With numerous ties (some weak ties) to brain cancers and ‘deficient practices’, aspartame had its setbacks. In 1994, the European Union Countries finally approved aspartame. In 2002, previous safety findings were again proved.
Cyclamate (E 952) is 50 times sweeter than sucrose (depending on the concentration). Cyclamate was discovered in 1937 and followed by controversy in 1966 regarding intestinal bacteria and toxic compounds. In 2003, there was questions regarding the consumption and male infertility. It is currently approved in 55 countries, the United States not being one of those.
Saccharin (E 954) is the oldest artificial sweetener, produced in 1878 by C. Gahlberg. The controversy surrounding saccharin started in 1907. 1911, it was said to be harmful. These findings were determined incorrect in 1912. Investigations again occurred in 1948, 1949, 1969, and 1972. The findings of a link to bladder cancer required warning labels in 1970, which was repealed in 2000.
Neohesperidine DC (E 959) is a citrus artificial sweetener, known to have a flavor that lingers. It was approved in Europe in 1994, but not yet approved in the United States.
Sucralose (E 955) is a zero calorie sweetener which is 600 times as sweet as sugar. It was discovered in 1989 and is approved in over 80 countries. Sucralose is one of two sweeteners considered “safe” by the Center for Science in Public Interest.
Neotame (E 961) is 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. It was approved by the US FDA in 2002, but is not widely used yet. It is one of two sweeteners considered ‘safe’ by the Center for Science in Public Interest.
Stevia is a shrub in the sunflower family whose leaf extract is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Studies have shown a positive benefit in use in obesity and high blood pressure since it lacks any effect on blood glucose.