Zero-calorie sweeteners linked to heart attack and stroke

Source: Nature Medicine, 2023
Zero-calorie sweeteners linked to heart attack and stroke

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic studied over 4,000 people in the U.S. and Europe to discover whether erythritol was associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol used as a low calorie sweetener. Erythritol belongs to a class of compounds called sugar alcohols. It functions as low-calorie sweeteners in sugar-free or low sugar products. Because of the way these molecules are structured, it can stimulate the sweet taste receptors on the tongue. Table sugar has 4 calories per gram but Erythritol has 0.24 calories per gram.

The study found with higher blood erythritol levels were at elevated risk of experiencing a major adverse cardiac event such as heart attack, stroke or death. Erythritol made it easier for blood platelets to form a clot. Clotting is necessary in the human body as we would bleed to death from cuts and injuries. This process occurs internally in our blood vessels as blood platelets are constantly clotting to close holes in blood vessels due to wear and tear. In a normal circumstance, a 10 percent cut would result in a 10 per cent clot. After being consumed, erythritol remained in the blood for many days. This elevated level increased the body's clotting risk. But if erythritol was present in the blood stream then a 10 per cent cut would result in a 90 to 100 per cent of clot formation. This would suastantially increase the risk of a stroke or a heart attack.

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