Neotame is approved by the FDA for general use in food. However, it shares some toxic properties with aspartame, another artificial sweetener. More data is needed to determine the long-term effects of neotame on the human body.
Neotame is an artificial sweetener that’s up to 13,000 times as sweet as table sugar. Its high-impact taste is what makes the product so attractive to food manufacturers—they have to use significantly less of it (as opposed to sugar or high fructose corn syrup) to achieve the same degree of sweetness. As a result, neotame drastically lowers production costs while delivering fewer empty calories and a lower impact on blood sugar.
So is neotame safe? It’s hard to say for sure just yet—when it comes to artificial sweeteners, neotame is still considered the “new kid on the block.” And although Neotame was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for general use in 2002, it’s still not widely used in manufacturing. In fact, neotame remains fairly controversial.
Let’s start with the positives: artificial sweeteners have been long suspected carcinogens. However, the National Cancer Institute reports that after more than 100 studies, they have found no definitive links between neotame and an increased risk of cancer.
Additionally, neotame does not affect blood glucose (sugar). It’s not a real sugar, which means the body won’t release insulin to offset the effects of rising blood glucose levels. That’s why the Mayo Clinic has stated that neotame may be a safer sugar alternative for pregnant women or diabetics.
While neotame does offer some advantages over sugar and other artificial sweeteners, there are some lingering concerns about its long-term effects on the body. Neotame is chemically similar to aspartame, which is widely regarded as the most dangerous artificial sweetener. Both neotame and aspartame convert to formaldehyde when metabolized. However, the effects of neotame may be even worse because it includes 3-dimethylbutyl—one of the world’s most hazardous chemicals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
When combined with formaldehyde, 3-dimethylbutyl can cause serious damage to the brain and other bodily tissues. It’s still unknown how much neotame must be consumed for this to occur—but the fact that it’s possible should be enough for you to want to steer clear of it.
Fortunately, neotame is easily avoidable. As previously mentioned, it’s still not very prevalent in many food products. Just to be on the safe side, it’s important to check ingredient labels. If you’re unsure if a product has been sweetened with neotame, reach out to the manufacturer and request clarification.
Possible long-term side effects
- brain damage
- bodily tissue damage
Ingredients to be aware of
- low in calories
- no impact on blood glucose