Food Additves to Avoid: Acesulfame-K

Food Additves to Avoid: Acesulfame-K

Acesulfame-K, also known as acesulfame potassium, represents one of the food additives used for sweetening aliments and drinks. Our body does not metabolize this food additive, so it is passed in urine, thus having no caloric value. This makes it a viable alternative to sugar in numerous diet drinks and foods. However, caution is required when consuming foods containing this artificial sweetener, as it is not totally safe.

Comparison between Acesulfame-K and Other Sweeteners

It is possible to compare the saccharinity of food additives, in order to determine which one is more potent. In terms of sweetness, acesulfame-K is:

  • One-quarter as sweet as sucralose
  • Nearly half as sweet as saccharin
  • Equal to aspartame
  • Between 180 and 200 times as sweet as table sugar (sucrose)

Keep in mind that acesulfame-K is frequently mixed with other similar food additives, such as aspartame or sucralose.

Foods Containing Acesulfame-K

Acesulfame-K is often added to baked foods or to foods that have a long shelf life, because this food additive does not decompose in the presence of heat. Aspartame, on the other hand, is not stable in such conditions. Acesulfame potassium is added to a wide range of products, some of the most important being:

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Chewing gum
  • Gelatin desserts
  • Syrup
  • Yoghurt

It is best to check the ingredient list, in order to see whether acesulfame-K or other similar food additives are included. However, this artificial sweetener is not only present in foods and drinks, but also in pharmaceutical products, such as chewable and liquid drugs, as acesulfame potassium is able to improve their taste. Acesulfame-K does not promote dental caries, but there are many other numerous reasons to avoid it, as it may pose serious threats to your health.

Reasons to Avoid Acesulfame Potassium

Acesulfame-K has been approved by the US FDA, but there are several potential problems correlated with consumption of this food additive. Even though there are many studies that attest its safety, acesulfame potassium is still suspected of causing benign thyroid tumors. In rats, the development of such tumors took only 3 months, a period in which the concentration of this additive in the consumed food was between 1 and 5 percent. This is a very short period of time, so the substance is believed to have significant carcinogenic properties.

Methylene chloride, a solvent used in the manufacture of acesulfame potassium, is the substance that may give the food additive its potential carcinogenic characteristics. In addition, exposure to methylene chloride for long periods of time may lead to such side effects as:

  • Breast tumors
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Kidney and liver problems
  • Leukemia
  • Lung tumors
  • Mental confusion
  • Nausea
  • Visual disturbances

Acesulfame potassium may also increase the appetite, by tricking the satiety signals of our body. When consuming products that contain this artificial sweetener, cravings for extremely sweet foods may develop. In these conditions, taste perception is changed and the taste of fruits and vegetables do not feel tasty anymore.  

Insulin secretion increases considerably when consuming foods rich in acesulfame-K. Also, the feelings of low blood sugar will intensify. All these problems make the safety of acesulfame potassium questionable. Additional long-term studies may be required for revealing the true benefits and downsides of this artificial sweetener.