A new study published in the journal, Nature Medicine, on February 27 suggests that erythritol, an artificial sweetener, is linked to various cardiovascular risks.
The zero-calorie sweetener was used by many who wanted to replace regular sugar with something that would not heighten blood sugar levels. With erythritol being a low-calorie product, it was especially popular for those with diabetes or individuals practicing keto. However, researchers found that erythritol is linked with cardiovascular risks, including blood clots, stroke, heart attack, and even death.
"The degree of risk was not modest," shared Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., the lead study author and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute with CNN.
By consuming erythritol, those with pre-existing risk factors for heart disease, including diabetes, were twice more likely to encounter a heart attack or stroke with elevated levels of erythritol.
"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," continued Hazen.
Further research suggests that erythritol makes blood platelets swiftly clot, which can eventually snap and flow to the heart, prompting a heart attack or, if it streams to the brain, a stroke. More research is needed to find out how low-calorie sweetener affects the cardiovascular system, but it makes sense to stay away from consuming sweetener. Other options, such as sucralose and neotame, are available, and recommended by the FDA.
Robert Rankin, the Calorie Control Council executive director, told CNN: "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."
Rankin added that the findings "should not be extrapolated to the general population, as the participants in the intervention were already at increased risk for cardiovascular events."