Calorie-free sweetener may be linked to health risks, study finds

Artificial sweeteners are commonly marketed to patients with diabetes, obesity, or a history of cardiovascular problems as a way to reduce sugar and overall calorie intake.

However, a recent study identified a potential association between the artificial sweetener erythritol and an increased risk of blood clotting that can lead to heart attack and stroke in these same high-risk groups.

“Because the results are concerning, people at higher risk of heart attack and stroke may want to limit it in their diets until more research is done,” Dr. Wendy said. Miller, director of nutrition and preventive medicine for Corwell Health East. , who read the study but was not a co-author.

Erythritol is a common sugar substitute found naturally in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables. But when added to processed foods and drinks, it’s typically increased 1,000-fold, according to the study published in the journal Nature.

Erythritol provides about 70% of the sweetness of sugar and is generally considered safe for diabetics because it does not affect blood sugar. It also doesn’t have the same laxative effect as other sugar alcohols, experts noted.

Researchers behind the paper published last week found that blood platelets, when exposed to erythritol, were more likely to form clots. This could be dangerous for people who are already at risk for plaque buildup in their arteries.

The short-term effects of erythritol have been studied in the past, and the sweetener has been generally recognized as safe by the FDA. However, the authors said more studies are needed to better understand the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners like erythritol, which has become one of the most widely used sugar substitutes in processed foods and related to keto.

Dr Miller said the findings of the study should primarily relate to people already at high risk for cardiovascular problems, such as those with diabetes, high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, and people who are overweight or have even a history of heart disease. or in their family.

The study found an association, not a confirmed link, between erythritol and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, she noted.

“I don’t want to alarm people too much or make them think that all sweeteners are bad,” Miller said. “On the other hand, a lot of sugar isn’t good either.”

Miller recommended talking with your doctor about your risk levels and reviewing product labels when making dietary choices. Foods and beverages containing erythritol may have it listed in the ingredients portion of the label, although the researchers noted that the FDA does not require disclosure of erythritol content in food products.

Data from the FDA National Survey in 2013-2014 revealed that the daily intake of erythritol in the United States was estimated at 30 grams per day. The FDA does not provide an Accepted Daily Intake (ADI) for the sugar substitute.

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