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Ask the Expert Archive

Many diet foods contain aspartame. I have been told that this sugar substitute can affect people in different ways. Do you feel that it is safe to eat or drink foods that contain it?

Aspartame has been approved by the FDA and much research has been done on the effects of aspartame on the body. The current findings state “there is no reasonable evidence of possible public health harm.” Aspartame is not associated with adverse health effects including headaches, seizures, changes in mood, cognition, and behavior, or allergic reactions. Aspartame is approved for use by the FDA and is therefore safe to use.  Of course, moderation is never a bad idea when it comes to any kind of added sweetener, low-calorie or not, but given the empty calories that sugar or high-fructose corn syrup provide, these low-calorie sweeteners may be the better option.
Alternatively, remember that adding fruit to your foods is a healthy, natural way to sweeten your foods as well. Try doing this in place of some of your artificial sweeteners. Fruits and vegetables are low calorie foods that not only aide in weight management or loss, but they are chalked full of vitamins and minerals! They are one of your best tools for your diet regimen. For more information about aspartame research and facts visit
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  1. Remember that Aspartame is not to be eaten by individuals with PKU (people will know if they have this condition as in most locations in the US, infants are tested), and Aspartame is not recommended for use in baked goods.

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The Expert: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, is the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation. At PBH, she guides the Foundation’s efforts to advance the overall effort of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
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