JUN 13, 2024 3:00 PM PDT

Sugar Substitute Linked to Heart Disease

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in the European Heart Journal has shown that consuming higher amounts of the artificial sweetener xylitol is linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.

The study included over 3,000 participants. Circulating levels of xylitol were measured in the participants’ bloodstreams along with cardiovascular events over the course of three years. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is commonly used in sugar-free products. Erythritol, another sugar alcohol used in sugar-free products, has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular events. The goal of this study was to see whether increased xylitol consumption is also linked to greater cardiovascular risk.

The results showed that higher levels of xylitol circulating in the bloodstream were associated with a greater risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event over a three-year period among the participants. The researchers conducted further tests and found that xylitol causes platelets to clot and increases the risk of thrombosis, or blood clotting.

While these results show correlation and not causation, the authors noted that it will be important to assess the long-term heart risks of xylitol consumption. Sugar alcohols and other artificial sweeteners are commonly recommended to combat diseases such as diabetes and obesity, both of which are linked to heart disease. However, the results of this study suggest that some artificial sweeteners may actually increase heart disease risk. These initial results do not indicate that xylitol should be avoided at all costs, but it is important to be aware that consuming high levels of xylitol may increase the risk of heart disease. For optimal heart health, the best course of action may be to limit sweetened products in general, and instead aim to eat a diet that features mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and lean meats.

Sources: European Heart Journal, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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