Canderel is a brand name of an artificial sweetener containing aspartame, and is the leading artificial sweetener in France and the United Kingdom. Canderel's parent company, Merisant, also markets the similar sweeteners Equal and NutraSweet in different parts of the world including the United States. Canderel has only a few calories per gram, and is much sweeter than sugar, making it an ideal sweetener for diet foods and drinks.
The USA's Food and Drug Administration has recommended an acceptable daily intake of 50 mg/kg (0.0009 oz/lb) of body weight, which is over 4,000 mg (0.14 oz) per day for a 81.6 kg (13 stone) man. There are 180 mg (0.006 oz) of aspartame in a 354 ml (12.5 fl oz) can of diet soda; it would take over 22 cans to reach the acceptable daily intake. Canderel is often used by diabetics, because it has no effect on blood sugar or insulin production. Canderel has less bulk than sugar, which could have a detrimental effect on jellies or jams made with the artificial sweetener.
The only notable side effect of Canderel is a slightly bitter aftertaste reported anecdotally by some people. Headaches are often claimed as a side effect, but controlled studies have ruled out aspartame as a headache cause. Canderel breaks down quickly in the body, forming phenylalanine, methanol, and aspartic acid. Other foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and meat also break down into these compounds in comparable amounts and no harmful side effects have been noted.
By itself, Canderel has almost no nutritional value. However, Canderel is always combined with other ingredients before ingesting. Many people use Canderel as part of a weight loss strategy, but the effects of too many of any foods, including sugar-free ones, can still cause weight gain. Canderel is also used as a sugar substitute by diabetics. While Canderel won't raise blood sugar levels, the other ingredients in foods made with Canderel may affect blood glucose and insulin levels.
Internet warnings and chain e-mails claim that side effects of aspartame include neurotoxicity, seizures, birth defects, cancer, multiple sclerosis, brain damage and more. These claims have largely been debunked by well respected scientists and US government officials. The Food and Drug Administration, charged with monitoring food additive safety in the USA, calls "aspartame, sold under trade names such as NutraSweet and Equal, one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved."
Canderal metabolises into the amino acid phenylalanine and should not be eaten by anyone with the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU). Excessive phenylalanine can also cross the placenta and affect a developing foetus. Because of this, the FDA requires all foods containing Canderel to carry a phenylalanine warning label. Canderel, however, has been declared safe for pregnant women to use.