Artificial sweeteners can help reduce caloric intake by providing a high level of sweetness with few to no calories. But many people have questions about whether artificial sweeteners are safe, whether they truly help with weight loss, or even if these artificial “foods” can contribute to overeating. Which little packet should a health-conscious consumer choose?
Like all other food additives, artificial sweeteners must undergo a rigorous approval process based on the results of animal or human studies.
The FDA assigns a maximum acceptable daily intake, or ADI, for each sweetener. The ADI is an average level that an individual can safely consume daily.
ADIs have a large built-in safety factor: they are 1/100th of the amount that is considered safe for human consumption. In most cases, the ADI is a level far greater than what most individuals would consume under normal conditions.
For example, the ADI for sucralose would be the amount of artificial sweetener found in six cans of diet soda.
Just like other food ingredients, it is possible that certain people may have an adverse reaction to one or more artificial sweeteners. Also, people who have the rare genetic condition known as phenylketonuria, or PKU, must avoid aspartame due to its content of phenylalanine.
But for most people, if you enjoy using a packet or two of artificial sweetener in your morning coffee, tea, or oatmeal, it’s safe for you to continue.