Most people know by now that too much sugar is a bad thing, especially from processed refined carbohydrates, sodas and all other sweets and cookies. We are a society of health and we start more and more to be aware of what we eat. As new study found out that we are what we eat and that the relationship between our genetic make-up and our metabolism – the chemistry of life that goes on inside our cells – is a two-way street. Not only do our genes regulate how the food we eat is broken down, but how our food is broken down regulates our genes.
Strictly related to sugar, pushed by all kinds of diets regimes, people started looking for calorie-free sugar substitutes. In this battle, agave syrup, aspartame or high fructose corn syrup were seen as saviors. The worst part is that, as we stated in our articles, these sugar replacements are not so good for you. Now, a new player is in town – sucralose(Splenda).
So the moment this came along, people thought their prayers had been answered. But is sucralose better then aspartame?
Aspartame vs sucralose – Diet Pepsi new move
First, the bad news: they’re both artificial.
Sucralose has a molecular formula of C12H19Cl3O8, which is produced by chlorinating sucrose, ordinary white table sugar. It is a process discovered in 1976 by a British company, which sold it to Johnson and Johnson Company.. In 1998, the USFDA approved sucralose for food use and today Splenda has surpassed Equal (Nutrasweet) in dollar market share.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is used in many diet sodas and other foods and beverages. Because it is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose, or even regular sugar, the small amounts needed to sweeten soda result in minimal calorie consumption; this makes aspartame popular for use in diet sodas and other low calorie products. However, although aspartame has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human use, the chemical compound of the sweetener and its effects on the body have raised serious concerns about its use over long periods of time or in large amounts on a daily basis. Among the side effects that have been linked to aspartame use are migraines, regular headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, mood swings, and memory loss.
The human body is very good at detoxifying itself of certain substances, but this is not the case with organochlorine compounds, which are organic compounds that have been chlorinated. According to the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, the absorbed sucralose and its metabolites (chemically altered substances) concentrate in the liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. Splenda manufacturers claim there is minimal absorption of Splenda and its metabolites. The FDA says there is only 11 percent to 27 percent absorption, but the Japanese Food Sanitation Council says as much as 40 percent is absorbed by the body.
PepsiCo Inc. released already 2 years ago its new Diet Pepsi beverages all over US market. The drink is now be sweetened with sucralose, the chemical used in the sweetener brand Splenda, instead of aspartame, as it struggles with flagging sales.
Diet cola drinkers in the U.S. told us they wanted aspartame-free Diet Pepsi and we’re delivering,
said Seth Kaufman, senior vice president of the Pepsi and flavors unit within PepsiCo’s North American business. Diet soda sales have tumbled as consumers, turned off by studies on artificial sweeteners, have switched to bottled water, teas and energy drinks, instead. Widely reported studies have shown a correlation between cancer and aspartame consumption in rats — but not in humans.
In a statement, PepsiCo said it stands behind the safety of aspartame and will keep using it outside the U.S., but it said it would start shipping Diet Pepsi without aspartame to U.S. stores. On their website you can find information about the sweeteners they use in the dedicated section. By deciding to ditch aspartame, Pepsi gets a head start on its main competitor in the carbonated beverage market Coca-Cola.
Diet Coke, which is also flavored with aspartame, is the top-selling sugar-free soda in the U.S. and it is the third-best seller among the broader soda market — ahead of Diet Pepsi at No. 7, according to Beverage Digest.
With all this changes diet soda drinks sales have dropped almost 20% according to new market researches. These are expected to slide as long as more and more people realize the fact that sugar with water is not so good for their health. In contrast with this, sales of energy drinks are expected to grow to $21 billion by 2017.
The new recipe for Diet Pepsi and Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry replaces aspartame with a blend of sucralose and acesulfame potassium. The move follows a 5.2 percent decline in Diet Pepsi’s sales volume last year, according to Beverage Digest. Sales of Coca-Cola Co.’s Diet Coke, which also uses aspartame, dropped 6.6 percent. But Coca-Cola has no plans to remove aspartame from the beverage.
Soda’s headwinds in the U.S. go beyond aspartame. A recent Gallup poll found that 62 percent of Americans avoid diet soda. Only 50 percent of respondents said they actively avoid sugar, and 47 percent stay away from fat.
The concerns about aspartame come as U.S. consumers are increasingly seeking natural and organic ingredients in their food and drinks.
The FDA approved it for use in some foods and beverages in 1981 and as a “general purpose sweetener” in 1996. The agency has conducted more than 100 studies supporting its safety. Still, customers have repeatedly asked PepsiCo for a diet cola made without the substance.
Sweet or safe?
The Food and Drug Administration has ruled that artificial sweeteners are safe, and sucralose, which was accidentally discovered by U.K. scientists while they were developing new insecticides, remains the biggest sugar substitute on the market, according to retail tracking service Infoscan Reviews and Information Resources, Inc.
Aspartame is made from two amino acids, while sucralose is a modified form of sugar with added chlorine. One 2013 study, however, found that sucralose may alter glucose and insulin levels and may not be a “biologically inert compound.”
The fact that Diet Pepsi will be specifically marketed as “aspartame free” is a blunt acknowledgment that consumers have soured on aspartame and the new cans should increase consumer awareness even further and spur other food and beverage companies to abandon it, including Diet Coke.
Coca-Cola introduced Coca-Cola Life in the U.S. last year. It has about half the calories of a regular Coke, and uses both cane sugar and the natural plant sweetener Stevia, a sugar substitute that has been growing in popularity in recent years. It’s also available in Chile, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, the U.K., Ireland, Sweden, and other European countries. To highlight the product and its natural ingredient, Coca-Cola Life will also have a green label instead of the traditional red.
Now, one thing is clear. The diet sodas with aspartame or not, will now help you lose weight. Drinking diet soda may confuse our bodies, says Susan Swithers, a professor of psychological sciences and a behavioral neuroscientist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. who has reviewed studies on diet soda. She says that when people drink diet soda, “the body produces physiological responses — increasing metabolism and releasing hormones — to anticipate the arrival of sugar and calories.”
In these conditions, the reactions to the new formula on social media seem to contradict what Pepsi found during its two year-long internal testing. Three quarters of consumers who tested the new formula liked the taste and responded favorably, according to Pepsi. In recent years, there have been growing concerns about aspartame, as consumers increasingly seek more natural and organic ingredients in their food and drinks. Artificial sweeteners have also attracted bad press since the 1970s, when a study linked them to cancer in lab rats. Which is why experts think it’s best for Pepsi to ignore the initial reaction.
What do you think about aspartame? Do you prefer Pepsi or Coke?