Aspartame is the calorie-free artificial sweetener you find in diet soda and lots of other "low-calorie" food products, and it's been through the food safety wringer over the years. Animal studies have raised cancer concerns and shown "clear evidence of toxicity," but some nutritionists argue that, in moderation, it's a very helpful alternative for those struggling with weight loss. Additionally, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently rejected two soda research papers that questioned the use of aspartame in beverages and reconfirmed its safety.
Of course, that delicious-but-not-so-nutritious aspartame isn't out of the woods yet.
Diet soda has also been linked recently to heart attacks and strokes, kidney stones, and even depression. And just when you hoped researchers would stop looking so hard at everybody's favorite low-cal beverage, here comes a new film called Notre Poison Quotidien (translated as Our Daily Poison) by French journalist and filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin. The film follows Robin's investigation into the health effects of chemicals used in conventional, intensive farming and looks at how modes of food production, packaging, and consumption are resulting in cancer and other diseases.
And who's on Robin's sh!t list? You guessed it -- aspartame, as well as other pesticides and that rotten bisphenol A (BPA). Robin even visits the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority to demonstrate the inadequate process in which chemicals that contaminate our food chain are tested, evaluated, and regulated.
Personally, I gave up diet soda a long, long time ago when the talk about its cancer risk first came out. It just made sense to me that nature-made sugar was better for me than a man-made chemical that was getting a bad reputation. It also helps that I'm fairly health conscious, so I knew I wasn't going to start swigging down as many sugary sodas as I had diet sodas, which I drank more often because they were calorie-free. In time, I gave up daily soda drinking too, and now I can't stand the taste of artificial sweeteners -- at all. I tell myself it's because they are BAD and unhealthy and will make me sad and then kill me slowly. And so far, that's been working for me.
What about you? What are your thoughts about aspartame and diet soda -- unhealthy or fine in moderation?
Image via S. Diddy/Flickr