Aspartame: what it is and when it hurts

As anticipated, aspartame (abbreviation E951) is an artificial sweetener consisting of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine , whose carboxylic end is esterified with methanol. “It is characterized – explains Dr. Evangelisti – by a high sweetening power , much greater than sucrose (about 200 times greater), for which a small amount is sufficient for food and drinks.” This is, therefore, the reason for its success commercial and the fact that we find it among the ingredients of snacks, snacks, carbonated drinks, yogurt, ice cream, dairy products and chewing gum. Its use also extends to the pharmaceutical field, given that it is found as an excipient in some drugs, especially syrups and antibiotics for children.

Aspartame is also commercially available pure, in the form of a white powder or processed in capsules , and is characterized by a flavor very similar to that of sugar, as is the calorie intake: 4 kcal per gram.

Characteristics of Aspartame.

  • Sweetening power equal to 200 times that of sugar ( sucrose ), similar to that of aspartame and equal to half that of saccharin.
  • It provides 4kcal per gram, but is added in such low doses as to bring practically zero quantities of calories;
  • Acariogenic (does not cause caries);
  • Null or minimal impact on blood sugar;
  • ; It is not heat stable, therefore it is not suitable for cooking.
  • It also negatively undergoes the conditions of high (basic) pH, while in acid conditions (as in carbonated drinks)..

Health risks News reports in recent decades have claimed that aspartame causes or increases the risk of: headache dizziness convulsions depression attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Alzheimer’s disease multiple sclerosis cancer lupus congenital disabilities.


Aspartame is not dangerous when taken in a balanced way and below the recommended doses. The products of its degradation are excreted by the urinary tract, so there are no problems of accumulation. After all, even a slice of sachertorte (Figure 5) is a delight for the palate and improves mood. 

by Abdullah Sam
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