Sunday, February 13, 2011


(Equal, NutraSweet)
Calories per teaspoon: 0
Uses: Table, beverages, foods, cooking (NutraSweet only)
What it is: Aspartame became the sweetener of choice when saccharin fell from grace in the early 1970s. It is a derivative of two amino acids -- aspartic acid and phenylalanine -- and is 200 hundred times sweeter than sugar.
For people with diabetes: It's safe because it produces a very small glycemic response, or spike in blood glucose.
Cooking with it: Aspartame can be used in beverages, ice cream, puddings, and other foods that don't require prolonged heating. Aspartame also enhances flavor, so when it's combined with other sweeteners, its sweetening power intensifies.
Packets of Equal and NutraSweet are handy for stirring into coffee and other drinks. For limited cooking, you can use Equal Spoonful and NutraSweet in bulk form. For limited baking, you can try Equal Sugar Lite -- a blend of aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sugar. However, if the heat is too high or the cooking time is too long, aspartame and its ability to sweeten may break down. Another caveat: A small number of people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic disorder, cannot metabolize phenylalanine, so they must avoid aspartame.


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