Sugar is bad for you, right? It has calories and makes you fat. Therefore, anything that tastes sweet and doesn’t have calories is preferable, because it won’t make you fat. Right? That is the thinking that supports the widespread use of artificial sweeteners. Millions of people guzzle soft drinks sweetened with aspartame, the compound sold under the trade names Nutrasweet and Equal. This ingredient is found in all kinds of diet foods, in toothpaste, and sprinkled out of small packets into coffee and tea. It is sold worldwide. It is also associated with thousands of reports of adverse effects. Most of the information that follows was taken from the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network Fact Sheet, written by Lendon Smith, MD, former Network Physician at NBC-TV and well-known author and pediatrician.
Aspartame (the technical name is L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanyl-methyl-ester) is considered to be about 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is virtually calorie free. When ingested and metabolized, it breaks down into three substances: