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European Food Safety Authority says aspartame is safe: Why Dr. Oz disagrees

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The European Food Safety Authority, following a major review, has ruled that the artificial sweetener aspartame is safe for consumers, reported CBS News on Dec. 10.

The agency concluded that there is no risk that aspartame causes "damage to genes and inducing cancer." They based that report summary on the current exposure to aspartame in beverages such as Diet Coke.

While diet beverages made with aspartame are home free overseas, the U.S. FDA advises drinking smaller amounts. And the American Cancer Society hedges its bets on the safety even more, noting that based on those limits, you would need to drink 21 cans of diet soda to exceed the recommended intake limits (gulp).

Dr. Mehmet Oz takes an even stronger approach, citing recent studies that show that zero-calorie sweeteners such as aspartame can boost your weight and put you at higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

The reason: Researchers have discovered that artificially sweetened foods do not satisfy your brain's desire for something sweet. Result: You keep consuming more food, leading to a higher calorie-intake overall.

In addition, warns Dr. Oz, studies show that artificially sweetened drinks boost your risk for both high blood pressure and heart disease.

"Some data even suggest that these zero-calorie sips could double the risk for metabolic syndrome, a huge risk factor for diabetes and heart disease," noted Dr. Oz in a recent column. He also revealed:

  • Other recent reports show consumption is linked to higher rates of depression.
  • In one study, people who drank diet sodas had a 70 percent greater increase in waist circumference over a few years compared to those who skipped soft drinks.

So what should you drink? Dr. Oz recently revealed his five favorite winter drinks: Click for details. Plus: Find out why Dr. Oz recommends monk fruit rather than other sweeteners by clicking here.

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