Dietitians share their advice with healthy sugar substitutes to try instead.
Many people opt for artificial sweeteners because of their low-calorie benefits. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that incorporating artificial sweeteners into your diet has long-term negative effects.
One of the most commonly used sweeteners is erythritol, and according to a new study, erythritol is linked to increased cardiovascular risk, including blood clotting, strokes, heart attacks and death. The researchers also found that people with diabetes were twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke if they had erythritol in their system.
Erythritol and cardiovascular risk
“It has long been believed that used sugar substitutes such as erythritol would reduce calories from carbohydrate intake while allowing food to taste great,” says Dr. Yu-Ming Ni, MD, cardiologist at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. “However, we have seen in repeated studies that sugar substitutes have side effects that go beyond simply mimicking the taste of sugar.”
Here, this group of individual erythritol studies demonstrates a mechanism by which this widely used sugar-based sweetener may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke by increasing the risk of blood clotting in the blood, and showing that in observations of people consuming this artificial sweetener, the risk of heart attack or stroke was increased.
This study is very useful in showing a potential mechanism by which artificial sweeteners can damage blood vessels, adds Dr. Ni. However, we cannot say with certainty that erythritol is the cause of an increase in heart disease unless this finding can be replicated in larger studies. Until then, it is unclear whether it is necessary to stop all consumption of artificial sweeteners.
“I often advise my patients to eat foods as naturally as possible, as this reduces the risk of exposure to potentially harmful chemicals like artificial sweeteners, and to consider sugar substitutes if used to help overweight people to lose weight from the total weight. loss has clearer evidence for improved health,” says Dr. Ni.
Related: New Study Links Artificial Sweetener Ingredient to Increased Heart Risk Factors
Products to avoid
Many products marketed as low carb/sugar contain erythritol, such as cookies, ice cream and some beverages, Amy Davis, RD, LDN, explain. That’s why it’s important to read the ingredient chart of nutrition labels to determine whether or not erythritol is found in food or drink.
Polyol (sugar alcohol) sweeteners such as erythritol are widely used in products labeled as sugar-free, low-calorie, and light. Common sources include certain types of yogurt, ice cream, puddings, candies, chewing gum, baked goods, diet drinks, and “keto” processed foods. Kelsey Costa, MS, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist from MIDSS, States.
Before purchasing a product, you may want to check the ingredient list on the Nutrition Facts label and pay attention to the terms erythritol or “sugar alcohol” to avoid any potential risk.
Related: What to Look For on Food Labels When You’re on a Low-Fat Diet
healthy sugar substitutes
Natural sweeteners are the best option for your health and safety.
“Pure Grade A honey, pure maple syrup, and dates are all great options for sweetening foods and beverages,” Costa says. “If you’re looking for alternative low-calorie options, look for 100% pure stevia or monk fruit extracts. Beware of sweeteners “made with” stevia or monk fruit, as they usually contain other ingredients artificial.
Next Step: Calorie-Free and High in Antioxidants, Monk Fruit Sweetener May Be the Best Natural Sweetener Available: Here’s What You Need to Know