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Splenda contains the artificial sweetener sucralose along with maltodextrin, which adds bulk so Splenda can be substituted cup-for-cup for sugar in recipes . Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar. To make sucralose, they take a cane sugar molecule and substitute three hydrogen-oxygen groups with three chlorine atoms.
Baking tip: After experimenting with Splenda in recipes, I have found the results are usually successful when I use half sugar and half Splenda.
Saccharin, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar, is an organic molecule made from petroleum.
Heat doesn't affect its sweetness.
After bladder cancer was found in male lab rats that were fed huge amounts of saccharin, the FDA proposed a ban on saccharin in 1977. But no ban was enacted, and the warning label on saccharin was dropped in 2000.
Since 1981, government reports have listed saccharin as an ''anticipated human carcinogen.'' Although studies of heavy saccharin users don't support any link with cancer , certain subgroups, like male heavy smokers, may be at increased risk.
The American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs suggests that parents and caregivers limit young children's intake of saccharin, since little information is available on how it might affect them.
Because saccharin can cross the placenta, the Council on Scientific Affairs suggests that women use saccharin carefully during pregnancy .
You would never guess that one of the most popular artificial sweeteners is actually a combination of two amino acids: phenylalanine and aspartic acid, which are then combined with methanol. It is 180-200 times sweeter than sugar.
Some 70% of our aspartame intake is from soft drinks. The FDA has set the acceptable daily intake (ADI) at 50 mg per kilogram of body weight. For most of us, this probably translates to about four (12-ounce) cans of diet soda or nine (8-ounce) glasses of fruit drink made from powder.
Each gram of aspartame has 4 calories, but it adds almost no calories to foods or drinks since we need only a tiny amount of aspartame to mimic the sweetness of sugar.
The FDA has evaluated aspartame use in food and beverages 26 times since the sweetener was first approved in 1981. In 1996, the FDA approved its use as a general-purpose sweetener in foods and beverages.
In 1985, the AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs concluded that ''available evidence suggests that consumption of aspartame by normal humans is safe and is not associated with serious adverse health effects.''
Use of aspartame within the FDA guidelines appears safe for pregnant women.
People born with a condition called phenylketonuria cannot metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine.
Aspartame breaks down in liquids that are exposed to heat. So we can't bake or cook with it.
Some people claim they have had allergic reactions to aspartame, ranging from skin reactions to respiratory problems. But this has been difficult to confirm in studies.
Some people have reported central nervous system side effects, like headaches, dizziness and mood changes, after consuming aspartame. But after reviewing 600 of these complaints, the CDC concluded there was no association.
Acesulfame-K (the ''K'' refers to mineral potassium) is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is approved by the FDA as a tabletop sweetener and an additive to desserts, confections, and alcoholic beverages.
It doesn't increase the risk of cancer, according to government agencies.
It doesn't affect blood-sugar levels.
It can be used in cooking and baking.
It isn't broken down by the body during digestion and is excreted from the body unchanged.
Combining it with other artificial sweeteners can increase the overall sweetness and decrease the bitter taste.
The use of acesulfame-K within FDA guidelines appears safe for pregnant women.
When used on its own, this sweetener can have a bitter taste.
The Washington-based consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest believes the safety tests on acesulfame-K were poorly conducted and did not properly assess the sweetener's cancer-causing potential.
BOTTOM LINE Remember: Everything in moderation