Popular artificial sweetener, erythritol, could raise risk of heart attack and stroke: study
A popular artificial sweetener, erythritol, may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, a new study from the Cleveland Clinic has revealed.
Researchers evaluated more than 4,000 people in the US and Europe. People who consumed high amounts of erythritol had a higher risk of major adverse cardiac events, which could include stroke, heart attack, or death.
A study published in Nature Medicine found that erythritol may contribute to the formation of blood clots, a major trigger for heart events.
However, there were some caveats.
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Erythritol is a carbohydrate called a sugar alcohol, which has about half the calories of regular sugar, per WebMD.
It is an ingredient in Truvia and Splenda Naturals Stevia Sweetener, two popular zero-calorie sugar substitutes. The sweetener is found naturally in some foods, including grapes, watermelon, pears, mushrooms and fermented cheeses.
“Our study shows that when participants consumed an artificially sweetened beverage with the amount of erythritol found in many processed foods, significantly higher blood levels were observed for several days – this Levels higher than those are seen to increase the risks of clotting,” said Stanley Hazen, MD. , PhD, in a press release on the Cleveland Clinic website.
He is chief of the co-section of preventive cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic and lead author of the study.
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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved erythritol for safe consumption in 2001. The World Health Organization (WHO) approved it in 1999.
Erin Plinsky-Wade, RD, a New Jersey-based physician specializing in diabetes and nutrition, said erythritol has a sweetness level similar to that of sugar, making it easy to substitute equal amounts in recipes.
“Because it is not metabolized in the gut, erythritol has a limited effect on blood glucose levels, unlike other sugar alcohols,” Plinsky-Wade told Fox News Digital in an email.
“This sweetener has no aftertaste and only 0.24 calories per gram, making it an attractive choice as a sugar substitute.”
Plinsky-Wade, who was not involved in the new study, said that erythritol is also added to a variety of foods, including low-carb ice cream, protein powders, low-carb snacks, desserts and some beverages. .
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“Sweeteners like erythritol have grown in popularity rapidly in recent years, but more in-depth research is needed into their long-term effects,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Hazen.
“Heart disease increases over time, and heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. We need to make sure the foods we eat are not hidden contributors.”
Robert Rankin, executive director of the Washington, DC-based Calorie Control Council, which represents the low- and low-calorie food and beverage industry, said erythritol is a proven safe and effective option for reducing sugar and calories.
“The results of this study contradict decades of scientific research showing that low-calorie sweeteners such as erythritol are safe, as evidenced by global regulatory approvals for their use in food and beverages, and participants’ in they should not be extrapolated to the general population. Those in the intervention were already at increased risk for cardiovascular events,” Rankin told Fox News Digital in an email.
“More research and long-term studies are needed to fully understand the effect of erythritol on long-term health.”
Palinski-Wade, a New Jersey-based registered dietitian, said she was surprised by the study’s findings.
“Most of the previous research on erythritol has been quite positive, as it contains beneficial antioxidants and has no effect on blood glucose levels or insulin,” he said.
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“Further research and long-term studies, including research on individuals without existing risk factors for brain disease, are needed to fully understand the effects of erythritol on long-term health,” added Plinsky-Wade. Palinski-Wade added.
Hazen also recognized the need for more research.
“It is important that more safety studies are conducted to examine the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners in general, and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in particular, on the risks of heart attack and stroke. Among the people,” he said.
Limitations of the study
The new study had some limitations that are important to be aware of.
Kim Culp, a registered dietitian in San Francisco, California, who was not involved in the study, said that while cardiovascular events increased after high blood levels of erythritol, those in the study already had heart disease and Greater risk for other health problems.
“Because people who choose to use sugar substitutes are often overweight or have diabetes, this puts them at a higher risk of developing heart problems,” he told Fox News Digital in an email. There is a risk.”
“The results of this same study may have been different if the subjects were all healthy individuals.”
Palinski-Wade said the best strategy is to follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) recommendation, which adds up to less than 10% of total daily calories. Both to limit sugar intake – and to consume all sweets. Caloric and non-caloric, in moderation.
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“When it comes to improving long-term health, it’s best to work to limit sugar in the diet while increasing our intake of foods with naturally occurring sugars, such as whole fruit,” she said. There is strategy,” he said.
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“Based on the results of this study, people with risk factors for cardiovascular disease should talk to their doctor to see if erythritol is right for them.”