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Acesulfame potassium is one of just five lower calorie sweeteners approved for use in the United States. Commercially marketed as Sunett® and Sweet One®, it typically appears in conjunction with other sweeteners for a more authentic taste. Two hundred times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose), acesulfame potassium usually is found in very small amounts, making it a healthy alternative to sugar and other sweeteners used to supplement foods.
Also referred to as acesulfame K, ace-K, or ACK, the non-nutritive sweetener was the accidental invention of Hoechst scientists in Frankfurt, Germany, in the year 1967. It's made from the potassium salt of 6-methyl-1,2,3 -oxathiazine-4(3H )-one-2,2-dioxide.
The FDA, required to approve all food additives, reviewed over 100 studies of the sweetener and declared acesulfame potassium safe in certain foods in 1988. In 2003, acesulfame potassium was approved in the US as a general purpose sweetener, although not recommended for use in meat or poultry. It is not often found in traditional supplements, but is used in the popular Vitamin Water.
Today, it is used in approximately 100 countries and 4,000 items. Acesulfame potassium works well in juices, dairy products, and baked goods, and often sweetens diet soft drinks. It masks the bitter tastes of active ingredients in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and pharmaceuticals, making these products more appealing to consumers.
Because acesulfame potassium has a slightly bitter aftertaste, primarily at high concentrations, similar to saccharin’s, it is often combined with other sweeteners, such as aspartame. Kraft Foods© owns the patent to use sodium ferulate with acesulfame potassium to attain the same effect.
Ace-K is a useful diet tool, free of calories. Ace-K is not stored in the body, nor metabolized by it. Studies show it to be suitable for those with diabetes, unlike natural sweeteners.
Tested in clinical trials and viewed as safe by the FDA and other researchers, acesulfame potassium is sodium-free and does not promote tooth decay.
Acesulfame potassium is pH stable, even in basic or acidic environments. Because of this, it has a longer shelf life than most artificial sweeteners, like aspartame (Equal® or NutraSweet®), and can last up to five years in storage.
Acesulfame potassium is suitable for baking, maintaining its sweet taste even in oven temperatures over 200ºC. Similarly, it can safely undergo pasteurization without sacrificing its sweetness.
Enhancing foods that contain other non-nutritive sweeteners, acesulfame potassium diminishes the too sweet, lingering aftertaste of aspartame and sucralose.
Although low calorie diets are not recommended during most pregnancies, when used in moderation, acesulfame potassium does constitute a safe alternative to natural sweeteners for women and developing fetuses. Unlike saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low®), which may remain in fetal tissue after the mother’s consumption, and Cyclamate, linked in scientific studies to cancer and currently banned in the US, acesulfame potassium poses no health risks during pregnancy when used in moderation.
The Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of acesulfame potassium is 15 milligrams for each kilogram (approximately 2.2 pounds) you weigh. Because of the very small amounts of acesulfame potassium present in foods and beverages that use it, it is highly unlikely for a consumer to take in any more acesulfame K than the ADI.
A person who weighs 60 kilograms, or 132 pounds, for example, would have to ingest 200 grams (half a pound) of sweetener every day to reach the ADI. Moreover, in order to ensure public safety, the ADI was set at 1/100 the maximum amount of acesulfame potassium that a typical person could ingest without undergoing any physical effects.
The ADI was established by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additive (JECFA), the scientific body which advises the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. After reviewing studies concerning acesulfame potassium, JECFA concluded that its use, within the advised limits of the ADI, is safe for general purposes.
Critics of acesulfame potassium demand more extensive studies on the ingredient, as some believe that it might be carcinogenic. The FDA so far has dismissed these claims, as acesulfame potassium has not been shown in studies to be carcinogenic.
In studies in which rodents were fed an unrealistically high amount of acesulfame potassium, up to 3% of their diet, acesulfame potassium still did not appear to cause cancer.
In some rodent studies, acesulfame potassium did spur the development of tumors. Again, this was in instances in which acesulfame potassium made up an abnormally large percentage of their diets – so large to be highly unlikely in human diets.
Similar studies indicate that acesulfame potassium may stimulate insulin secretion, thus aggravating reactive hypoglycemia in diabetic users.
Conversely, the potassium component of acesulfame potassium is not a health concern. Most individuals daily consume 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams of potassium; a packet of tabletop sweetener contains merely 10 mg which is 40 times less than the amount in a banana.
Studies have shown no connection between acesulfame potassium and increase of appetite, headaches, hypersensitivity to light, allergic reactions, or gastrointestinal problems. Compare acesulfame potassium and other sweetener options with the free supplement finder now!