Zero-Calorie Sweetener Linked to Strokes, Heart Attacks

A new study has found that popular zero-calorie sweetener has links to strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, and death.

A sugar replacement called erythritol has been linked to blood clotting, stroke, heart attack, and death, according to a new study. The artificial sweetener called erythritol is often found in diet foods. It is popular in ketogenic “keto” diets. 

“The degree of risk was not modest,” said lead study author Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute.

Researchers also found that people already at risk of heart disease were twice as likely to experience a heart attack or stroke if there are high erythritol levels in their blood. 

The new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine on Monday, found that higher levels of erythritol are correlated with higher chances of heart attack, stroke, or death in three years when analyzing blood samples from three different populations.

Experts are saying the research is sounding the alarm bells. 

Researchers first found the correlation between increased erythritol levels and major adverse cardiac events when analyzing chemicals and compounds in 1,157 blood samples of those who were at risk for heart disease that was collected between 2004 and 2011. 

After discovering the link between the high levels and increased risk, the researchers confirmed their results by testing a larger sample from 2,100 people in the United States and 833 samples in Europe through 2018.

Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attacks and strokes, accounted for 874,613 deaths in the United States in 2019.

Like sorbitol and xylitol, erythritol is a sugar alcohol, a carb found naturally in many fruits and vegetables. It has about 70 percent of the sweetness of sugar and is considered zero-calorie. 

Artificially manufactured in massive quantities, erythritol has no lingering aftertaste, doesn’t spike blood sugar, and has less of a laxative effect than some other sugar alcohols.

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