This common sweetener may be linked to an increase in heart attacks and strokes

Artificial sweeteners are a popular substitute for sugar because of their low calorie content and effect on blood sugar levels.

Recent studies have shown these sugar substitutes may have adverse effects on health .

A new study found that erythritol (a sugar substitute commonly used) may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.

What is artificial sweetener?

Artificial sweeteners can be used as sugar substitutes to sweeten foods and beverages, without adding extra calories or increasing blood sugar levels. Aspartame is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners.

Sweeteners like these are used in a wide range of low-calorie products and sugar-free items, including diet sodas, sugar-free gum, and protein bars.

Erythritol, a popular artificial sweetener

Erythritol is found in fruits and fermented food, but the majority of erythritol in products comes from a fermentation process.

Erythritol, a sugar alternative that is similar to sugar in taste and texture but has less calories and lower blood sugar levels.

Increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events

The long-term effects on cardiovascular disease of erythritol were examined in a new study published by Nature in March 2023. Researchers conducted untargeted metabolic studies on patients who were undergoing cardiac risk assessments and found that high erythritol levels and other polyols sweeteners are associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

The study has been validated by two independent cohorts consisting of stable patients who underwent elective cardiac evaluations in the US and Europe.

Erythritol Induced Blood Clots

Researchers found in laboratory experiments that erythritol increased platelet reactivity, and increased thrombosis production in mice.

A small pilot study on healthy volunteers showed that ingestion of erythritol caused sustained increases in plasma levels of erythritol (meaning the substance stays in the bloodstream over a long period), which increased platelet reactivity, and then thrombosis.

Blood platelets (also known as thrombocytes) are a type blood cell that helps to form blood clots. When blood vessels are injured, platelets rush towards the injury site and form a clot. This helps stop bleeding.

Although this is a vital function, an excess of platelets, or an excessive activation, can cause blood clots to form in your arteries, which can block blood flow and lead to serious health issues such as strokes or heart attacks.

What does this mean to you?

This study suggests that consumption of erythritol at higher levels may not be as safe for consumers as was previously believed.

Although more research is required to fully understand the effects of erythritol on long-term health, those who are concerned with their cardiovascular health might want to reduce their intake of artificial sweeteners and erythritol.

Erythritol is still considered safe by regulatory bodies , but the results of the study highlight the need for further research into this and other artificial sugars.