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What is Aspartame?

Mar 26, 2024

Aspartame is a sweetener that is 200 times sweeter than sucrose. It is regularly consumed by approximately 350 million people worldwide and is estimated to account for 62% of the world market share of sugar substitutes. In the UK it is the main ingredient in many low-calorie drinks, fruit juices, confectionery, pintxos, medical preparations and vitamins, and in particular some desserts consumed by children mostly contain this artificial sugar substitute.

Aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than regular sugar and contains fewer calories than regular cane sugar; one gram of aspartame has about 4 kilocalories. However, the amount of aspartame needed to make people feel the sweetness is so small that the calories it contains can be ignored, so it is also widely used as a substitute for cane sugar. The flavor of aspartame is different from that of regular cane sugar. The sweetness of aspartame is delayed and lasts longer than sugar, but some consumers find it unacceptable and therefore some consumers do not like the use of sugar substitutes. If acetosulfanilamide is mixed with aspartame, the resulting taste may be more sugar-like.

Aspartame hydrolyzes at high temperatures or high pH, so it is not suitable for foods that need to be baked at high temperatures. However, heat resistance can be improved by combining it with fats or maltodextrins. The stability of aspartame in water is mainly determined by pH. At room temperature, it is most stable at pH 4.3 and has a half-life of about 300 days. At a pH of 7, the half-life is only a few days. However, most beverages have a pH between 3 and 5, so aspartame added to beverages is stable. However, when a longer shelf life is required, as in the case of syrups for automatic beverage dispensers, aspartame can be mixed with other more stable products. Aspartame is mixed with other more stable sweeteners, such as saccharin. When used in powdered brewed beverages, the amino group of aspartame reacts with the aldehyde group of some flavor compounds, resulting in a loss of both sweetness and flavor. This can be avoided by protecting the aldehyde group with an acetal. 

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Aspartame CAS 22839-47-0

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