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Artificial Sweetener Guide: Artificial Sugars Explained

Updated on January 2, 2011

In the last, decade artificial sweeteners have come to be used in an ever increasing number of processed foods. They are used because they are cheaper for the food makers, because they promise to help with weight loss, and are deemed safe sugar alternatives for diabetics.

Used in thousands of products by consumers around the country, few question these synthetic sweeteners’ safety. Why would they? The FDA's got your back right?


The FDA is so understaffed, that it inspects less than one percent of imported food. It is also underfunded.According to a NY Times article,"the agency would need at least 27 years to inspect every foreign medical device plant that exports to the United States, 13 years to check every foreign drug plant and 1,900 years to examine every foreign food plant, according to government investigators."

Shocking. Unsurprisingly, the government is not doing anything to fix this problem. As with most things, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. In this case, that means educating yourself when it comes to matters of food safety. Use this short guide to help you out next time you purchase any processed foods.



1. Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal, Canderel)

Made from aspartic acid and phenylalanine. 200 times sweeter than table sugar. Accidentally discovered during routine screening of ulcer treating drugs. Approved for use by the FDA in 1974.

Health effects: Studies link it to cancer in rats. May cause neurological and behavioral issues. Reported symptoms include irritability, headaches, insomnia, hyperactivity, seizures, memory loss, migraines, depression, vision problems, memory loss. Should be avoided by those with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria.

2. Acesulfame K (Sunett, Sweet One)

Artificial sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than table sugar. Not digested by the body, eliminated through urine. Approved by the FDA in 1988.

Health effects: In animal studies, cause lung tumors, breast tumors, respiratory disease, leukemia, and cancer. Emits toxic fumes when heated to decomposition.

3. Saccharin (Sweet’n Low, SugarTwin)

First produced in 1878, it is the oldest artificial sweetener. Three to five hundred times sweeter than table sugar. May be made from chlorine and ammonia. Not digested by the human body, eliminated through urine. Its use is banned or limited in certain countries.

Health effects: A known carcinogen and suspected mutagen. May cause diarrhea, nausea, hives, developmental & reproductive toxicity.

4. Sucralose (Splenda)

Discovered in 1989 and approved for use by the FDA in 1998. Six hundred times sweeter than regular table sugar. Made synthetically from sugar and chlorine. A chlorinated sugar.

Health effects: Caused shrunken thymus gland, enlarged liver and kidneys, miscarriage in animal studies. Shown to cause DNA damage in the gut of mice. Contains small amounts of dangerous contaminants such as heavy metals, arsenic, and methanol.

5. Neotame

Made by Nutrasweet, the same makers of aspartame. Approved by the FDA in 2002. 6,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than regular table sugar. Similar to aspartame but safe for those with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria.

Health effects: Suspected carcinogen. Allergic reaction for those sensitive to MSG. Known to cause migraines.


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    • The Smiling Man profile image

      The Smiling Man 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks fucsia.

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 6 years ago

      Very informative Hub! It i better do not use artificial sweeteners!