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New Study Suggests Possible Link Between Zero-Calorie Sugar and Heart Issues

By: April Carson



A sugar alternative called erythritol may be linked to some deadly side effects, such as stroke and heart attack, according to a new study.


According to Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, "The level of hazard was certainly not insignificant."


Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol that is often used as a sugar substitute, particularly in diet sodas and other sugar-free beverages. It is also found in some "natural" or "healthier" foods like fruit juices, sports drinks, and chewing gum.


According to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, people who have existing risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, were twice as likely to experience a heart attack or stroke if they had the highest levels of erythritol in their blood.


The findings suggest that erythritol may be linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, although the authors note that more research is needed.


Hazen explained that those whose blood levels of erythritol were in the top 25% had double the risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to people who have lower levels. He went on to say this is comparable to one of the most potent cardiac risk factors, such as diabetes.


The study's authors believe that erythritol could be contributing to inflammation in the body, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. "Inflammation is believed to play an important role in coronary heart disease and stroke," said Hazen. "So it makes sense that substances like erythritol, which could potentially increase inflammation, could also increase the risk of these conditions."


Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver, who was not involved with the study, cautioned that this result is concerning. He added that the study adds to mounting evidence linking zero-calorie artificial sweeteners with potential health risks, such as worsening metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.


Freeman cautioned that the clotting risk of consuming erythritol could be concerning, citing a need for further research. To play it safe and err on the side of caution, he recommended limiting one's intake of erythritol until more conclusive evidence is available.


The Calorie Control Council, an industry association, expressed disagreement with the study's results in a statement to CNN. "For years and years of research has proven that reduced-calorie sweeteners such as erythritol are safe," declared Robert Rankin, the council’s executive director via email. He cited global regulations permitting their use in food products and beverages as evidence for this claim.


Rankin cautioned that the findings of this study are not representative of the general public, as those who took part in it were already facing elevated risks for heart-related issues.


The European Association of Polyol Producers chose to remain silent on the matter, citing that they had not yet assessed the research.


Akin to sorbitol and xylitol, erythritol is a sugar alcohol or carb that can be found in several fruits and vegetables. It's renowned for possessing up to 70% of the sweetness as sugar while it has been deemed zero-calorie by experts.


It is also found in various food and beverage products like chewing gum, chocolate, diet sodas, and jams. While the health effects of zero-calorie sugar alcohols aren't yet fully known, some studies suggest that erythritol may help to prevent tooth decay.


Manufactured synthetically in large quantities, erythritol doesn't leave any bad aftertaste, won't raise blood sugar levels, and has a lower laxative effect compared to other sugar alcohols.


Hazen exclaimed that Erythritol looks, tastes, and can be used in baking like sugar while also mentioning it is broken down quickly by the body.


Erythritol has skyrocketed in popularity, as it is often included in keto and other low-carb foods marketed to diabetics. Some of the diabetic food products we studied had more erythritol than any other ingredient! This sweetener continues to be a beloved choice for many.


According to Hazen, erythritol is the largest component found in many commercially-produced "natural" stevia and monk fruit products. These two natural sweeteners are known for their intense sweetness that ranges from 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar! Thankfully, only a pinch of these ingredients is required since erythritol provides the desired crystalline texture and appearance that consumers look for when using these products.


Yet, Hazen's research suggests that consuming large amounts of erythritol can have negative impacts on cardiovascular health. The team believes that the lack of calories found in these artificial sweeteners could cause changes in insulin levels and other cellular processes that increase the risk for heart disease. More research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms at work and to assess the impact of erythritol on human health.












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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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