Aspartame, sold under NutraSweet and Equal, has become one of the most popular sweeteners sold and consumed. It is 200 times sweeter than sucrose sugar and has virtually no calories. Because aspartame’s chemical composition differs from sugar, it may help with weight management, it is safe for diabetic consumption, and it does not promote tooth decay.
There is much controversy over this sweetener however, as some research has shown an association with cancer and other health problems. Components of aspartame act as neurotransmitters that overstimulate neurons, increasing free radical formation that cause cancer. (via American Cancer Society)
However, the American Cancer Society states that this only occurs when aspartame is consumed in excess. The FDA and USDA have approved an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This means that it is safe for a 130-pound woman to consume 2,950 milligrams of aspartame each day. She would need to drink 17 cans of diet soda to exceed the recommended level. Numerous studies have shown that this sweetener is indeed safe in the right amounts, even for children, pregnant women, and adults trying to lose weight.
The key to everything, aspartame included, is moderation. Always drink water when you can; however, if you need a little boost found only in your favorite diet soda, every now and again at least, it’s not so bad for you.