Artificial Sweetener Linked to Blood Clots and Heart Attacks, New Study Finds
A zero-calorie sweetener may be causing heart attacks and blood clots, a new study finds.
A study published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine found that erythritol, a sugar substitute typically used in keto reduced-sugar products, is linked to blood clotting, stroke, heart attack and death.
Researchers found that individuals — who had preexisting risk factors for heart disease — with the highest level of erythritol in their blood were shown to have twice the risk for the health conditions.
“The degree of risk was not modest,” said study author Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the center for cardiovascular diagnostics and prevention at the Cleveland ClinicLerner Research Institute, CNN reports.
“If your blood level of erythritol was in the top 25% compared to the bottom 25%, there was about a two-fold higher risk for heart attack and stroke. It’s on par with the strongest of cardiac risk factors, like diabetes.”
Experts note that while there is a trend, more research is needed to understand the impact of erythritol.
Robert Rankin, executive director of the Calorie Control Council, told the outlet that “the results of this study are contrary to decades of scientific research showing reduced-calorie sweeteners like erythritol are safe, as evidenced by global regulatory permissions for their use in foods and beverages.”
He added that the results “should not be extrapolated to the general population, as the participants in the intervention were already at increased risk for cardiovascular events.”
Erythritol (pronounced Ear-rith-ri-tall) is a type of carbohydrate called a sugar alcohol, or polyol, which are water-soluble compounds that occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It is also commercially produced by fermentation from a simple sugar derived from corn, called dextrose.
Erythritol has no effect on glucose or insulin levels. This makes it a safe sugar substitute if you have diabetes. Foods that contain erythritol may still contain carbohydrates, calories, and fat, so it’s important to check the label.