Avoiding aspartame? We’ve got you covered with a roundup of our Nutrition Action team’s preferred drinks and sweet treats, all made with the safer sweeteners.

The products we recommend in this article come from NutritionAction. We don't accept any paid advertising or corporate donations. Any products we recommend have been vetted by our staff and are not advertisements by the manufacturers. 

As safer sweeteners make their way into a wider array of foods and drinks, some shoppers are looking for aspartame alternatives and replacements for their favorite aspartame-sweetened products. But getting started can be daunting, and there are abundant options. The NutritionAction team have been scouring the shelves for delicious and safe drinks, sweets, and snacks made without aspartame. (They’re also made without other low-calorie sweeteners that we rate as “avoid” in Chemical Cuisine, our definitive guide to food additives.) Here are some of our best-ranked options so far. 

Why avoid aspartame? 

Aspartame, which is used most often in drinks like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, is the low-calorie sweetener most rigorously studied for its potential to cause cancer. 

The verdict isn’t good.  CSPI urged the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency under the World Health Organization, to review the evidence on aspartame. IARC has now completed that review and found that aspartame is a possible carcinogen. CSPI Principal Scientist Thomas Galligan, PhD, writes, “The finding should be of concern to consumers, food manufacturers, and food safety officials in the U.S. and around the world.”  

Aspartame alternatives

A bag of Monkfruit in the Raw
Marlena Koch - CSPI.

Consumers may now be searching for alternatives to their favorite aspartame-sweetened foods and beverages. Fortunately, there are a number of sweeteners on the market that don’t have the same associated hazards as aspartame, and shoppers are flocking to beverages and snacks sweetened in other ways. The bad news: Many times, reaching for a non-aspartame sweetener means picking up one that isn’t better. The good news: We have a handy guide for finding the sweetener that’s right for you. At the top of our list are stevia extract, which is the one of the safest available low-calorie sweeteners, and monk fruit extract, which has been used for centuries and seems to be perfectly safe, though it has been studied less rigorously than other options.

Aspartame-free sodas, teas, and coffee drinks

can of Zevia caffeine free cola

Most diet sodas and sugar-free teas are sweetened with aspartame. But there are still plenty of aspartame-free options on shelves now, and we hope to see more in the coming months as industry reacts to IARC’s evaluation. Here are some of our favorites.


Stevia-sweetened Zevia checks all the boxes. If you want a soda, it’s hard to find a better one. And you’ve got 16 flavors to choose from, like Creamy Root Beer, Ginger Ale, or Lemon Lime Twist. Zevia even serves up a Caffeine Free version of its Cola. Sweet!  

Want even more options? Check out our list of 6 great-tasting drinks with less sugar (or none) 

The Republic of Tea iced teas

If you’re an iced-tea devotee, brewing your own beats buying bottled. You can lose the sugar... and spare the planet some plastic. Quart-size brew pouches like The Republic of Tea’s make it easy. The tea bags are made without plastic, says the company. Try unsweetened Iced Teas like Ginger Peach or herbal Hibiscus Sangria, or Keto-Friendly Sweet Tea, which gets its sweetness from monk fruit.  

Looking for something different? These are the best non-alcoholic drinks that are low in calories and sugar

STōK Black Un-Sweet Cold Brew Coffee

With only 15 calories per 12 oz. serving and no added sweeteners, STōK Black Un-Sweet Cold Brew checks all the boxes. Heads up: It contains about 125 milligrams of caffeine per serving. Prefer decaf? Brew and ice your own (or try Grady’s Cold Brew Decaf Coffee Bean Bags). If you’re brewing coffee at home, simply add stevia or try one of our favorite coffee creamers or a healthy plant milk to sweeten up the pot. 

No-aspartame breakfasts

Kashi Autumn Wheat

Oatmeal, hot or cold cereals, granola and nut bars are an easy, healthful start to the day—maybe with a piece of fruit—so it makes sense to look for those with little or no added sugar...and some real food. Our favorites pack a punch with whole grains, nuts, and dried fruit.

 Woodstock 5 Grain Cereal

At the top of our hot breakfast choices is Woodstock 5 Grain Cereal, which adds whole-grain rye, triticale (a wheat-rye hybrid), barley, and flax. The result: a deliciously varied texture, plus as much fiber (5 grams) as a serving of oatmeal. And six minutes of simmering on the stovetop is all it takes to cook. 

For other oatmeal, muesli, and hot-cereal mix-ins, visit our roundup of some of the best oatmeals and other hot breakfast finds.  

Kashi Autumn Wheat

The healthiest standbys don’t change much; no-nonsense unsweetened shredded wheat gets a cinnamon twist in Kashi’s Autumn Wheat—along with all the texture, filling whole grains, and about half the sugar of Frosted Mini Wheats. Nice! 

Looking for other cold cereal options? Here’s what counts in the cereal aisle.  


No bar can replace real superfoods like crunchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fresh or frozen fruit. But sometimes you’re short on time or options. To reach for a bar that beats a dressed-up cookie, Lärabar is the real deal. The Apple Pie has dried dates, apples, and raisins, the Cherry Pie has dates and cherries, the Banana Bread has dates and bananas, and so on. They’ve also all got nuts.  

For more Nutrition Action-approved bars, check out our guide to the best protein bars, granola bars, nut bars, and more

Cookies and more—without aspartame

Banana Bread Lärabar
Real (dried) bananas and dates, plus almonds. Mmm.


Want a cookie now and then? Who doesn’t! But it’s hard to know what’s just a little treat and what’s really loaded with sugar, saturated fat, and virtually all empty calories. That’s why NutritionAction ranks the best available supermarket options. Here are some of our favorites right now. 

Kodiak Graham Bear Bites 

These are the only 100% whole-grain grahams we’ve found. Take your pick: the Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Honey are all delicious. Just don’t be fooled by their “protein-packed” claim.  

Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food Bite-lettes

These soft and chewy cookie nuggets stay true to their name: They’re heavy on oats. They get some sweetness from dried fruit. And all five flavors—Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Xtreme Chocolate Fudge, Cranberry, and Vanilla Vanilla—don’t top a reasonable 9 grams of added sugar per two-bite serving. Take your pick! 

Looking for more baked sweets without aspartame? Try some of these. 

Worry-free treats from the freezer 

bag of Tru Fru pina colada treat
Marlena Koch - CSPI.


Nothing beats ice cream or a popsicle in the summer heat. But some sweet snacks are better than others. Here are our top picks from the frozen aisle. 

Yasso Greek Yogurt Bars

Yasso is king of the frozen-yogurt case. All 11 of the company’s non-chocolate-coated Greek Yogurt Bars—from Black Raspberry Chip to Salted Caramel—are good bets. And most are jam-packed with mix-ins like cookie dough, chocolate chips, brownie dough, crushed cookies, or pistachio brittle...at no more than 100 calories a pop. 

Skinny Cow Skinny Minis 

At 150 calories a pop, most of the Cow’s regular light ice cream sandwiches are winners. But the mini Viva Vanilla Snackers are even better. They shave off 50 calories and a teaspoon of added sugar, thanks to their smaller size and stevia extract sweetener. 

Trü Frü Piña Colada

This tropical vacation in a bag describes itself as “Nature’s Pineapple Frozen Fresh in White Chocolate & Coconut.” Mmm. Each 1 oz. serving (about 4 or 5 frosty coated fruit chunks) comes to 70 calories, 2½ grams of sat fat, a mere teaspoon (5 grams) of added sugar—and no aspartame. 

Got a hankering for more frozen aspartame-free frosty sweets? These 6 frozen treats beat ice cream 

Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia FroYo

A nice surprise: Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia FroYo has the super-premium brand’s classic dense texture, yet only a quarter of the saturated fat of its Cherry Garcia Ice Cream.  

Check out our other ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet rankings: What's hot in the healthier ice cream aisle?  

Support CSPI today

As a nonprofit organization that takes no donations from industry or government, CSPI relies on the support of donors to continue our work in securing a safe, nutritious, and transparent food system. Every donation—no matter how small—helps CSPI continue improving food access, removing harmful additives, strengthening food safety, conducting and reviewing research, and reforming food labeling. 

Please support CSPI today, and consider contributing monthly. Thank you.


Subscribe to Nutrition Action Healthletter

Subscribe to NutritionAction

For more Better Bites and shopping guides like these, subscribe to NutritionAction. Since 1974, NutritionAction has helped its readers sort through the noise on food and health. We’re completely independent, because we accept no advertising and take no government or industry donations. That way, we’re free to tell it like it is.

Subscribe now