Questions from the ARC Hotline: Aspartame-Sweetened Products

By Gail Frank
Questions from the ARC Hotline: Aspartame-Sweetened Products
It is estimated that aspartame is an ingredient in more than 6,000 products worldwide. Knowing the general categories of foods commonly sweetened with aspartame is a good guide for healthcare professionals who educate their patients about calorie control with sweet-tasting foods.
April 15, 2007

The following questions came into the Aspartame Resource Center. We asked Gail Frank, PhD, RD to respond.

Is there a list of aspartame-sweetened products?

It is estimated that aspartame is an ingredient in more than 6,000 products worldwide. Knowing the general categories of foods commonly sweetened with aspartame is a good guide for healthcare professionals who educate their patients about calorie control with sweet-tasting foods.

The Web address http://www.aspartame.org/aspartame_products.html provides the following list of reduced calorie products which contain aspartame:

  • Breath Mints
  • Carbonated Soft Drinks
  • Cereals
  • Chewing Gum
  • Flavored Syrups for Coffee
  • Flavored Water Products
  • Frozen Ice
  • Frozen Ice Cream Novelties
  • Fruit Spreads
  • Gelatin, Sugar Free
  • Hard Candies
  • Ice cream Toppings
  • Ice Creams, No Sugar Added or Sugar Free
  • Iced Tea, Powder
  • Iced Tea, Ready to Drink
  • Instant Cocoa Mix
  • Jams & Jellies
  • Juice Blends
  • Juice Drinks
  • Maple Syrups
  • Meal Replacements
  • Mousse
  • No Sugar Added Pies
  • Non-Carbonated Diet Soft drinks
  • Nutritional Bars
  • Powdered Soft Drinks
  • Protein Nutritional Drinks
  • Pudding
  • Soft Candy Chews
  • Sugar Free Chocolate Syrup
  • Sugar Free Cookies
  • Sugar Free Ketchup
  • Table Top Sweeteners
  • Vegetable Drinks
  • Yogurt, Drinkable
  • Yogurt, Fat Free
  • Yogurt, Sugar Free

Food and beverage labels always will list aspartame in the ingredient list if it is used as a sweetener. For direct product lists, healthcare professionals also can check with specific food companies. Complete product lines are often available on the company homepage and can be printed as handouts or educational materials. Non-profit health organizations like the American Diabetes Association prints research and application articles that name products recommended for use. This is especially useful for individuals with obesity or Type 2 diabetes who seek calorie-control or sugar-free foods. The American Diabetes Association even has the following statement on its Web site:

Don't throw away your low-calorie sweeteners just because sugar is safer than you thought. Low-calorie sweeteners are "free foods." They make food taste sweet, and have no calories and do not raise blood glucose levels. They do not count as a carbohydrate, a fat, or any other exchange. They can be added to your meal plan instead of substituted.

The Calorie Control Council reported that 180 million people in the U.S. consumed foods or beverages with sugar substitutes in 2004, and the number may reach 200 million people today. Healthcare professionals may assume many products are easily available and visible on grocery shelves to meet this demand. As a rule, think sweet and the names of products with aspartame will come to mind.

Experience a creative tool called, "The Calorie Calculator," available on the homepage of this site. "The Calorie Calculator" allows substitution of regularly sweetened products with ones containing aspartame. The amazing result is two-fold: first, you see the calorie savings and the potential weight loss over time, and second, you see the product name. The next step is to obtain and incorporate the product into a healthy eating pattern for the beneficial reduction in calories!

How can you tell if a product contains aspartame?

Simply looking on the back of the product label in the ingredient list is the first step to tell if the product contains aspartame. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all ingredients be listed on the label. The word 'aspartame' will be in the ingredient list if it is in the product.

Products containing aspartame have a message that alerts individuals with phenylketonuria, or PKU. Individuals with this genetic condition must limit the amount of phenylalanine, an essential amino acid, in their diets. This label message also is an indication that a product contains aspartame.

Gail Frank, Los Alamitos, CA, is a registered dietitian and provides expert counsel to the Aspartame Resource Center.


Questions from the ARC Hotline: Aspartame-Sweetened Products

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