The artificial sweetener, erythritol, has been linked to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, according to findings published in Nature Medicine.
In a press release Monday, the Cleveland Clinic said researchers studied more than 4,000 individuals in America and Europe, and findings revealed the people with higher blood erythritol levels had a greater risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or even death:
They also examined the effects of adding erythritol to either whole blood or isolated platelets, which are cell fragments that clump together to stop bleeding and contribute to blood clots. Results revealed that erythritol made platelets easier to activate and form a clot. Pre-clinical studies confirmed ingestion of erythritol heightened clot formation.
However, the Medicine article noted that researchers need to perform more studies to assess its long-term safety.
According to senior author, Dr. Stanley Hazen, chairman for the Department of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Sciences in Lerner Research Institute and co-section head of Preventive Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic, “Cardiovascular disease builds over time, and heart disease is the leading cause of death globally. We need to make sure the foods we eat aren’t hidden contributors.”
Erythritol can be found in Keto products, and according to Healthline, the Ketogenic diet involves eating a low amount of carbohydrates, and consuming fats.
Per the Cleveland Clinic, erythritol is approximately 70 percent as sweet as sugar, but once it is ingested, the body has difficulty metabolizing the product.
“Instead, it goes into the bloodstream and leaves the body mainly through urine. The human body creates low amounts of erythritol naturally, so any additional consumption can accumulate,” the clinic’s press release said.
Following the study’s publication, the Calorie Control Council Executive Director Robert Rankin told CNN in an email, “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 and beverages.”
Rankin added that the results “should not be extrapolated to the general population, as the participants in the intervention were already at increased risk for cardiovascular events.”
Meanwhile, Hazen reiterated the fact that more research was needed when it comes to artificial sweeteners, specifically erythritol, when it comes to the risk for heart attack and stroke.