Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe?

Woman pouring sweetener packet into coffee

Many people would like to use artificial sweeteners, but avoid them because they fear that they may be unsafe. Saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose underwent years of testing before manufacturers were permitted to add them to foods.

They have each been determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be safe for use by almost all people. The FDA also recognizes two additional sweeteners, stevia (Truvia™ and PureVia™) and luo han guo extract as generally safe.

The exception is for those very rare people who are born with a condition called phenylketonuria (PKU). These people cannot metabolize foods that contain large amounts of phenylalanine, one of the ingredients in aspartame. People with this condition must avoid aspartame and many other high-protein foods. Certain other people may report headaches or other symptoms after eating foods containing artificial sweeteners. These people should also avoid the artificial sweeteners since they are not a required part of the diet.

Foods that may have these sweeteners include:

  • Diet carbonated beverages
  • Diet or low calorie candy
  • Diet or low calorie cookies
  • Diet or low calorie pudding and gelatin
  • Low calorie yogurt
  • Sugar-free canned fruit
  • Sugar-free chewing gum

However, if you have a concern, check the ingredient list of any low calorie or diet food before you purchase it.