Artificial sweetener: Aspartame

Aspartame is one of the most popular man-made sweeteners on the market. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used as a substitute for sugar in many soft drinks, beverages and some foods. It is a white crystalline powder and it is about 200 times as sweet as sucrose.

Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by James M. Schlatter, a chemist working for G.D. Searle & Company. This substance is a member of the aniline group and is made of two amino acids –phenylalanine and aspartic acid, as well as methyl alcohol, more commonly known as methanol or wood alcohol. It has a caloric value of 17 KJ per gram like other protein substance. An Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of aspartame is 40-50 mg/kg body weight/day; it helps the diabetics to improve their quality of life.

It was approved by the US FDA in1981as a tabletop sweetener, in chewing gum, cold breakfast cereals, beverages, instant coffee and tea, gelatins, puddings, and fillings, and dairy products and toppings. In 1983, FDA approved the use of aspartame in carbonated beverages and carbonated beverage syrup bases, and in 1996,FDA approved it for use as a "general purpose sweetener”.

Higher level of aspartame leads to various side effects such as physical weakness, decrease in night vision, insomnia, mental depression, anxiety, feeling aggressive,diarrhea and weight loss etc.

Aspartame can be synthesized from its constituent amino acids, L-phenylalanine and L-aspartate. Like many other peptides, aspartame may hydrolyze (break down) into its constituent amino acids under conditions of elevated temperature or high pH.

Artificial sweetener: Aspartame 

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