Many weight-conscious people opt for sweeteners, as they do not contain the calories that table sugar does. However, there are other dangers that sweeteners pose to the human body, especially after long-term usage. Artificial sweeteners are also called non-nutritive sweeteners, as they do not contain many calories, if any. There are five types of non-nutritive sweeteners that are approved by the FDA: aspartame, neotame, acesulfame K, saccharin and sucralose.
Aspartame comes in the form of Equal, NutraSweet and Sugar Twin, and causes the most controversy out of all non-nutritive sweeteners. Although aspartame is deemed safe by the FDA, there have been numerous reports of side effects associates with it. Side effects include dizziness, headache, increased appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, changes in mood, and cramps. There are more serious illnesses that have been associated with aspartame, which include joint pain, anxiety attacks, depression, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, blurred vision, lupus, various cancers and slurred speech.
Neotame is a type of aspartame. It has the same chemical composition as aspartame, minus phenylalanine. Neotame is so new, that not many studies have been conducted to assess any dangers and long-term effects of its consumption.
Acesulfame K is also listed as potassium and sunett. Little do consumers know that this non-nutritive sweetener is used in many foods and beverages. Acesulfame K is also used to preserve the sweet taste of sweet foods, and as food enhancers. Controversy lies in the fact that acesulfame K contains the dangerous chemical methylene chloride. Long-term consumption of this carcinogen is reported to cause cancer, depression, nausea, headaches, liver disease, kidney disease and mental confusion.
Saccharin comes in the forms of Necta Sweet and Sweet 'N Low. It is a popular sweetener, as it has no calories and is up to 700 times sweeter than regular sugar without raising blood sugar levels. Saccharin is also known to be the safest of the five nonnutritive sweeteners. However, a few studies have shown that consumption can lead to bladder cancer, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, headaches and skin eruptions.
Sucralose is Splenda, the newest type of sweetener available on the market. Like saccharin, it has no calories and is up to 600 times sweeter than regular sugar. There is a trace of chlorine in Splenda, which has caused concern over the safety of sucralose. Chlorine is not safe for humans and is used in pesticides, cleaners, and poisonous gases. Not many studies have been conducted on humans to evaluate its safety, but have been done on animals. Some side effects found in animals are depression, mood swings, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, chest pains, runny nose, cough and wheezing.