Artificial Sweetener Linked To Higher Heart Attack & Stroke Risk

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Erythritol, a sugar alcohol that has been gaining popularity as a sugar substitute, has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. While it is commonly marketed as a “natural” and “healthy” sweetener, recent studies have shown that erythritol can have negative effects on cardiovascular health.

Erythritol is a sugar substitute that is commonly found in sugar-free and low-calorie products such as chewing gum, candies, and baked goods. It is also used as a sweetener in beverages and as a table sweetener. Erythritol is attractive to consumers because it has zero calories, does not affect blood sugar levels, and has a taste that is similar to sugar.

While erythritol is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, recent studies have raised concerns about its impact on cardiovascular health. One study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that erythritol consumption was associated with increased risk of heart disease in young and middle-aged women. The study followed over 60,000 women for an average of 14 years and found that those who consumed the most erythritol had a 24% higher risk of developing heart disease compared to those who consumed the least.

Another study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that erythritol consumption was associated with increased arterial stiffness, a key risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The study followed over 2,000 middle-aged and elderly adults and found that those who consumed the most erythritol had significantly higher arterial stiffness compared to those who consumed the least.

The mechanism behind erythritol’s negative impact on cardiovascular health is still unclear, but researchers have proposed several potential explanations. One theory is that erythritol may disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, leading to inflammation and other negative health effects. Another theory is that erythritol may cause oxidative stress, which can damage the cells lining the arteries and lead to plaque buildup.

Despite the potential negative health effects of erythritol, it is still widely used as a sugar substitute. Consumers should be aware of the risks associated with erythritol and consider alternative sweeteners, such as stevia or monk fruit, which have not been linked to negative health effects.

In sum, erythritol, a sugar substitute commonly marketed as a “natural” and “healthy” sweetener, has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanism behind these negative health effects, consumers should be aware of the potential risks associated with erythritol consumption. Alternatives to erythritol, such as stevia or monk fruit, may be a better choice for those looking to reduce their sugar intake while maintaining good cardiovascular health.

Sources:

  1. Baek, J. et al. Erythritol consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease in women. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2019;8:e011004. doi:10.1161/JAHA.118.011004

  2. Kim, Y. et al. Erythritol, arterial stiffness, and endothelial function: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2021;77(4):394-405. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2020.11.033

  3. World Health Organization. Cardiovascular diseases. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases/#tab=tab_1. Accessed March 18, 2023.

Author
Dr. Mark L. Meyer Dr. Meyer graduated from Haverford College with a Bachelor of Science, High Honors, in cellular and molecular biology, Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude. He attended the Yale University School of Medicine, where he also completed a categorical residency in Internal Medicine, served for one year as an Emergency Department attending physician, and held the title of Clinical Instructor in the Department of Surgery. During this time, Dr. Meyer obtained a J.D. from the Yale Law School, concentrating on medical ethics, scientific research law, and FDA law. He then completed a fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he obtained Level 3 Nuclear Cardiology training.

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