Splenda and Stevia step aside, there’s a new sweetener in town. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced Monday that they approved advantame (which doesn’t yet have a brand-name such as Splenda or Equal), as a safe-to-use general purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer for foods.
According to the FDA’s website, “advantame is a free-flowing, water soluble, white crystalline powder that is stable even at higher temperatures, and can be used as a tabletop sweetener as well as in cooking applications. Advantame has been approved for use as a general-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer and can be used in baked goods, non-alcoholic beverages (including soft drinks), chewing gum, confections and frostings, frozen desserts, gelatins and puddings, jams and jellies, processed fruits and fruit juices, toppings, and syrups.”
Advantame is a chemical derivative of the artificial sweetener, aspartame, which certain individuals should avoid or limit. For example, those of you with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic disorder, have a difficult time metabolizing phenylalanine, a component of both aspartame and advantame. However, according to the FDA, since advantame is many times sweeter than aspartame, a much smaller amount has to be used in order to achieve the same level of sweetness, so products containing advantame won’t be required to carry the same info statement alerting people with PKU about the presence of phenylalanine.
The advantage of using advantame, like other high-intensity sweeteners (which are thousands of times sweeter than sugar, gram for gram) is that it contributes very few if any calories to foods and does not have an effect on blood sugar levels like sugar does.
The concern, of course, with these sweeteners is their safety. That’s why they have to be approved by the FDA before they can be marketed in the United States. To approve advantame’s safety, the FDA reviewed 37 scientific animal and human studies looking at possible toxic effects and deemed the product safe for the public.
If we start seeing advantame on store shelves or in products, personally I will hold off on it until more research is done and more information is available. Studies are limited, and remember that research has shown artificial sweeteners to be associated with weight gain since psychologically we may use them as a free pass to indulge more elsewhere. As with any sweeteners you choose to use, including sugar, moderation is always key.
—Sarah-Jane Bedwell, R.D., contributing SELF blogger
What do you think? Will this new sweetener find its way into your diet? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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