As concerns rise about the potential health effects of sugar substitutes, several doctors are advising patients to reduce their intake. A recent study published in February in the journal Nature Medicine, conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, revealed that erythritol, a popular zero-calorie sweetener, was linked to a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death within three years.
Erythritol is a natural sugar alcohol produced in the body and is utilized as a sugar substitute in low-calorie and low-carb products, especially in those promoted as keto-friendly, such as condiments, baked goods, and ice cream. Typically, it is blended with other sweeteners.
With the growing popularity of low-carb and ketogenic diets, people have been turning to sugar-free sweetened products as a substitute for the sweet taste of sugar with reduced sugar and carbohydrate content. Nonetheless, experts are cautioning that sugar substitutes might have their own health risks.
“We can’t firmly conclude that [sweeteners] are safe,” warns Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean and professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “That’s genuinely worrying.”
Alternative sweeteners have been studied for potential health hazards for a long time, but numerous studies have used food diaries that are not always reliable in recording what people truly consume. The latest research on erythritol is more extensive and comprehensive.
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