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The Best Aspartame-Free Alternatives for Your 5 Favorite Products

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Aspartame (Equal™) is an artificial, chemically-derived sweetener widely used in food and drink products for over 40 years, including soft drinks, chewing gum, sugar-free Jell-O, ice cream, yogurt, and more.

Studies over the past few decades (human and animal studies) suggest a possible association between aspartame and the risk of some cancers, including liver cancer, lymphoma and leukemia.

Last month, the World Health Organization announced a new classification of aspartame as possibly carcinogenic to humans, listing it as a class 2B carcinogen.

Molly’s recommendation: Limit our consumption of aspartame-sweetened products by dialing back on frequency and/or volume or – preferably – finding alternatives that do not contain artificial sweeteners. Here are some common products that contain aspartame, and we offer healthier alternatives to keep your diet nutritious and sweet.

Aspartame Alternatives

1. Diet soft drinks (think Diet Coke) are one of the top sources of aspartame in our diets.

Instead, try:

  • Stevia-sweetened soft drinks like Zevia (available in ‘Cola’ and a variety of flavors)
  • Topo Chico or other sparkling water with dark cherry extract or flavor drops (see below) – fans of this combo say it tastes like a Dr. Pepper (or Diet Dr. Pepper). Or Virgil’s Black Cherry Sparkling Soda, available at natural foods stores.

2. Crystal Light is sweetened with aspartame, and artificially colored with food dyes like red 40, blue 1 and/or yellow 5.

Instead, try:

3. Sugar-Free Chewing Gum, like Extra chewing gum, is often sweetened with aspartame.

Instead, try:

  • Pur or Simply Gum – both sweetened with xylitol, not aspartame [note: Trident is sweetened with xylitol, but also still contains artificial sweetener sucralose]

4. Equal Packets – contain aspartame, also artificial sweetener and acesulfame potassium.

Instead, try:

  • Monkfruit packets or Stevia packets – both are intense sweeteners similar to aspartame, yet plant-based and natural, not chemically created.

5. Sugar-Free Jell-O is sweetened with aspartame and artificially colored with food dyes.

Instead, try:

  • Simply Delish plant-based (and gelatin-free) Jell-O style dessert

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