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article imageSweet relief: Diet colas might not do any harm

By Tim Sandle     Feb 14, 2014 in Food
Good news for those who prefer diet drinks. A risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority has found that the low-calorie artificial sweetener aspartame is safe for consumption by everyone, including children and pregnant women.
Reviewed by Meck Higgins, associate professor of human nutrition at Kansas University, the report shows that aspartame is safe in relation to its propensity to cause disease. Higgins summarizes: "The claim that it causes cancer and the claim that it messes up our genes have not been founded in terms of scientific studies."
Of course, with any chemical there is a point beyond which it ceases to become safe. According to Higgins, most people do not come close to this threshold, which, in the U.S. is set as: "For a 200-pound person, that would be about 20 12-ounce cans of diet soda a day. or a child who weighs 50 pounds, that would be about five cans."
In terms of quantities, a 12-ounce can of diet soda has about 180 milligrams of aspartame. Packets of Nutrasweet and Equal contain about 35-40 milligrams per packet.
The video below shows how safe levels in food are established by scientists:
Aspartame is a low-calorie, intense artificial sweetener. It is a white, odourless powder, approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. In Europe, U.S., and other territories it is authorized to be used as a food additive in foodstuffs such as drinks, desserts, sweets, dairy, chewing gums, energy-reducing and weight control products and as a table-top sweetener.
With any chemical additive to food, not everyone is convinced by the latest research. There is other evidence linking the sweetener to weight gain, and is linked to a higher risk of diabetes, headaches, vision problems, high blood pressure, and heart disease. There is also a group of people who cannot safely consume aspartame. These are the sufferers of the inherited disease phenylketonuria (PKU), who are unable to metabolise the amino acid phenylalanine effectively, leading to the accumulation of potentially harmful levels.
More about diet cola, sweetner, Aspartame
 
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