Artificial Sugars in Diet Beverages


It often ignites the discussion for the use and limit for the aerated drinks available in the market. But, when it comes to the diet beverage sold under the leading brands and claim for virtually low calories, is it considered safe to consume? What triggers questions for its consumption, is all about the use of artificial sugar in the diet beverages. The safety of using artificial sweeteners is always a subject of controversies. Studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may make you addictive.

Kids are very fond of soft drinks and those children who engaged themselves in sports and other such activities often drink such beverages. Sometimes the term Diet makes them pay special attention and unknowingly they consume diet beverages very frequently thinking that it is not adding up extra calories. Know what artificial sweeteners are and how these controversial low calories sweeteners (LCS) are safe to consume.

Aspartame: aka APM is an artificial sugar variant. This falls under low calories list of drinks but, 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is Permissible by the food regulator of India, FSSAI. Aspartame with reference to its safety is safe for pregnant women and children as well. Becoming a Label reader is a wiser choice.

The acceptable daily intake recommended by FSSAI – 40 mg/body wt

Use of Aspartame in food products: breakfast ready to eat cereals, sodas and other soft drinks, chewing gum, frozen desserts etc.

Who should avoid – Those having the disorder Phenylketonuria (PKU)

The reason behind – The breakdown product of Aspartame is phenylalanine, and it must be avoided by those having phenylketonuria, a rare genetic disorder that causes amino acid called phenylalanine build up and this leads to the formation of Tyrosine which our body needs to create neurotransmitters such as Epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. When this conversion is affected because of the lack of enzymes, phenylalanine gets accumulated in the body and hence the disorder is called phenylketonuria.

Acesulfame potassium: aka ACE- K. This is blended with Sucralose. It is used in carbonated beverages in combination with other sweeteners like aspartame. Considered as a non-toxic and non-carcinogenic. This is stable under heat. Hence, used for baked products also.

The acceptable daily intake recommended by FSSAI – is 9 mg/ kg body weight.

Use of ACE- K in food products – Beverages, Baked foods, desserts, etc.

Isomaltulose: Almost similar to sucrose but, it is slowly digestible, and its sweetness value is half to sucrose. (This has recently been added to the list of Artificial Sweeteners in Regulation No. 3.1 FSSAI Regulations, 2011).

The values of isomaltulose should be 50 percent (max) of total sugar without adversely affecting the stability of the food products.

Use of Isomaltulose in food products:  breakfast cereals, chocolates, jellies, fruit juices, sports drinks etc.

Neotame: It is an artificial sweetener and 7000 – 13000 times sweeter than the natural sugar and 30 times sweeter than aspartame.

FSSAI recommends its use at a maximum permitted level – 33 ppm.

Use of Neotame in food products:  soft drinks, frozen desserts, dairy items, chewing-gums, etc.

Saccharin: 200-700 times sweeter than sucrose, used in various food and pharma products.

FSSAI recommends different level (in ppm) of Saccharin in various food items.

Use of Saccharin in food products: Processed foods, canned juice, chewing-gums, etc.

Sucralose: This is up to 650 times sweeter than the natural sugar. This is heat stable.

The acceptable intake of Sucralose: 15 mg/kg body weight.

Use of Sucralose in food products: in baked food, beverages, chewing gums, frozen dairy products.

Take home message…

Artificial sweeteners are shrouded in controversy ever since its first use and the debate is still on, though the research studies are refreshing on it every now and then.

Do not make a goal to shed pounds with artificial sweeteners.

Stick with the Food guidelines and be a Label reader.

Remember Moderation is the ultimate key.

Use wisely by making these sweeteners as a limited choice.