Zero-calorie sweeteners could be the cause of heart attack

A recent study links erythritol, a sugar alternative used in stevia, monk fruit, & keto-reduced-sugar products, to blood coagulation, stroke, heart attack, & mortality.

“The risk was not modest,” said the main study author Dr. Stanley Hazen, head of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute's Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics & Prevention.

The study, published Monday in Nature Medicine, found that those with diabetes & high blood erythritol levels were twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

The highest 25% of erythritol blood levels had a two-fold greater risk of heart attack & stroke. 

Hazen compared it to diabetes, a major cardiac risk factor. The report showed that erythritol made blood platelets clot faster in lab & animal studies. 

Breakaway clots can cause heart attacks or strokes. "This clearly signals an alarm,” said Dr. Andrew Freeman, head of cardiovascular prevention & wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver.

Erythritol may clot, Freeman said. “Obviously, further research is needed, but in an abundance of caution, it could be wise to minimize erythritol in your diet.”

“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 & beverages,” said Robert Rankin, executive director of the Calorie Control Council, in an email to CNN.“

The intervention participants were already at elevated risk for cardiovascular events,” Rankin added.The European Association of Polyol Producers declined comment, stating it had not seen the paper. 

Erythritol, sorbitol, & xylitol are sugar alcohols found in many fruits & vegetables. Experts say it's zero-calorie & 70% sweet like sugar.

Erythritol is mass-produced, has no aftertaste, doesn't raise blood sugar, and is less laxative than other sugar alcohols.“

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