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New Study Links Artificial Sweeteners to Heart Attack and Blood Clots

New Study Links Artificial Sweeteners to Heart Attack and Blood Clots

Sugar substitutes have been a controversial topic for years but little is known about the long-term effects these substitutes have on our cardiovascular health. A new study finds direct correlation between erythritol, a sugar substitute found in many reduced-sugar products, and blood clots, stroke, heart attack and death in those with preexisting risk factors for heart disease.

The study analyzed data from thousands of blood samples collected in the U.S. and Europe over a 14-year period in people who were at risk of heart disease. Researchers found that individuals at higher risk for heart disease because of factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking who had the highest level of erythritol in their system were twice as likely to develop a blood clot, stroke, heart attack, or even die.

Artificial sweeteners are commonly used in soft drinks and processed foods, and Erythritol is found in zero-sugar products like Splenda and Truvia and some monk fruit sweeteners. Erythritol specifically has been marketed as a heart-healthy sugar substitute given its low calorie content and insignificant impact on blood glucose and insulin levels.

Erythritol is produced by fermenting corn and is almost 70% as sweet as sugar with a similar taste, feel and texture making it an ideal sugar substitute to table sugar. The body lacks the ability to break down erythritol as it doesn’t have the enzymes needed. Instead, it goes into the bloodstream and is eventually flushed out.

It is important to note that because sweeteners like erythritol appear naturally, they have minimal requirements to pass through the regulatory process. The FDA currently classifies erythritol as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) which means that a chemical or substance added to food is considered safe when used the way it was designed.

While much more research needs to be done on the impact of these sweeteners on health, they should be used sparingly and with caution due to the mounting evidence that long-term use of sugar substitutes can be bad for your health, especially in those with preexisting risk factors for heart disease. A well-balanced diet full of fresh, natural food can help reduce the risk of exposure to harmful chemical additives like artificial sweeteners.