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Study Discovers Connection Between Popular Low-Calorie Sweetener and Heart Attack and Stroke

A recent study has found a potential connection between a widely used low-calorie sweetener called xylitol and an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and mortality, especially among individuals with higher levels of consumption. Dr. Stanley Hazen, the senior author of the study and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, explained that the levels of xylitol in the bloodstream of healthy volunteers spiked dramatically after consuming a typical drink containing the sweetener. Unlike glucose levels, which typically increase modestly after consuming sugar, xylitol levels rose significantly, indicating a potential cause for concern.

The study also highlighted similar findings regarding erythritol, another low-calorie sweetener, which may lead to blood clotting and subsequent cardiovascular events. Dr. Matthew Tomey, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Fuster Heart Hospital in New York City, emphasized the importance of recognizing these platelet abnormalities, particularly in individuals with a high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Concerns regarding the increased consumption of low-calorie sweeteners like xylitol and erythritol have been raised, especially considering their prevalence in various consumer products. Carla Saunders, president of the Calorie Control Council, disputed the study’s findings, citing decades of scientific evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of such sweeteners.

Xylitol, often used as a sugar substitute in a wide range of products, is known for its sweetness and low-calorie content. However, the study noted that the high levels of xylitol found in processed foods and beverages could pose health risks, particularly in individuals at risk of diabetes or obesity.

Despite being marketed as a natural sweetener and low-carb option, xylitol’s potential impact on cardiovascular health raises concerns. Dr. Hazen emphasized the need for further research to understand the long-term effects of xylitol and similar sweeteners on human health. He suggested that individuals consider alternatives like water or unsweetened beverages to minimize potential risks associated with sweeteners like xylitol.

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