Naturally present in certain fruits and fermented products, erythritol is perceived as a natural sweetener, although it is generally artificially synthesized when sold as an alternative to white sugar.
Unfortunately, it would not be the perfect alternative to conventional sugar, according to a new scientific study. Published on February 27, 2023 in the magazine NatureMedicine (Source 1), it indicates that consumption of this sweetener is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
The researchers here analyzed health data from more than 4,000 people living in the United States and Europe, and found that those with the highest blood levels of erythritol had an increased risk of major cardiac event, heart attack or stroke. They also found that high levels of erythritol in the blood contribute to the formation of blood clots ultimately risking obstructing blood circulation. Badly metabolized by the body, erythritol accumulates in the blood, until it is evacuated in the urine, specify the scientists.
“ Sweeteners like erythritol have grown rapidly in popularity in recent years, but more research needs to be done on their long-term effects “, estimated the main author of the study, Dr. Stanley Hazen, chairman of the department of cardiology and metabolic sciences at the Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic (United States), in a press release (Source 2). “ Cardiovascular disease develops over time and heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. We need to make sure that the foods we eat are not hidden contributors “, he added.
Researchers who call for vigilance
Present in certain low-calorie, low-sugar products, and sold alone as a substitute for white sugar, erythritol has zero glycemic index. It is therefore sometimes recommended for people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, seeking to reduce their blood glucose (glycaemia) level. The trouble is that these people are also at high risk for cardiovascular problems. If these results are confirmed, the consumption of erythritol would therefore be more harmful than beneficial.
“It is important that further safety studies be carried out to examine the long-term effects artificial sweeteners in general, and erythritol in particularon the risks of heart attack and stroke, especially in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease Dr. Hazen insisted. The co-authors and he invite people with a high cardiovascular risk oftalk about their food choices with a doctor and/or a dietitian for personalized recommendations.
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