Researchers warn that a popular sugar-free sweetener has an association with an increased rate of heart attack and stroke

Researchers warn that a popular sugar-free sweetener has an association with an increased rate of he ...

A recent Cleveland Clinic investigation has shown that erythritol, a commonly used artificial sweetener, has an association with greater risks of heart attack and stroke. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Medicine.

A new Cleveland Clinic research has shown that erythritol, a popular artificial sweetener, is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The findings were published yesterday (February 27, 2023) in the journal Nature Medicine.

Researchers studied 4,000 individuals in the United States and Europe and concluded that individuals with higher blood erythritol levels were at increased risk of suffering a serious cardiac illness, such as a heart attack, stroke, or death. Platelets are cells that connect together to prevent bleeding and form clots and, in some preclinical studies, increased the formation of clots.

"Sweeteners, like erythritol, have rapidly increased in popularity in recent years, but there needs to be more research into their long-term effects," said senior author Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., chairman for the Lerner Research Institute's Department of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Sciences and co-section head of the Cleveland Clinic's Preventive Cardiology. "Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and we need to ensure that

Artificial sweeteners, such as erythritol, are used as low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, and “keto” substitutes for table sugar in low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, and “keto” products. People with obesity, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome are at greater risk for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

According to a new Cleveland Clinic investigation, erythritol, a popular artificial sweetener, is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Credit: Cleveland Clinic

Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar and is produced by fermenting corn. It is not easily broken down by the body after ingestion. Instead, it goes into the bloodstream and leaves the body mostly through urine.

The FDA has designated Erythritol as a "generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)," which implies there is no need for long-term safety studies.

The authors stress the importance of follow-up studies in order to validate their findings in the general population. The study had several limitations, among them the fact that clinical observation studies are more likely to be associated than not.

Dr. Hazen writes, "Our study shows that when participants consumed an artificially sweetened beverage with a percentage of erythritol found in many processed foods, significant elevated levels in the blood were observed for days," adding, "It is critical that further safety investigations be conducted to investigate the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners in general and erythritol specifically on heart attacks and stroke risk."

Authors recommend you consult with your doctor or certified dietician to learn more about healthy eating habits and personalized recommendations.

Marco Witkowski, Ina Nemet, Jennifer Wilcox, Nilaksh Gupta, Arash Haghikia, Ilja Demuth, Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen, Tomas Cajka, W. H. Wilson Tang, and Stanley L. Hazen, 27 February 2023, Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/s41591-023-02223-9

Dr. Hazen is named as a co-inventor on pending and issued patents held by the Cleveland Clinic in the areas of cardiovascular diagnostics and therapies.

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