A new study published in Nature Medicine (I link it here) found that erythritol, a popular zero-calorie artificial sweetener often used to sweeten low-calorie or low-carb foods, could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio evaluated more than 4.000 Americans and Europeans with cardiovascular problems or risk factors for developing future heart disease. Well, patients with the highest blood concentrations of artificial sweeteners had a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. And not just in the short term, but in the next three years.
Erythritol, laboratory studies
In experiments done on mice, erythritol enhanced the activity of platelets, causing clots to form at a faster rate. Clots formed more quickly in mice injected with erythritol than in those injected with saline.
In the observation made on human patients, the blood level of erythritol in those who drank a drink with this sweetener remained high for two days. That's long enough to affect blood clotting.
The study has some points to explore. First, the fact that many human participants already had cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, it should be added that it has not shown a direct influence of erythritol on strokes and heart attacks: therefore, the current studies that evaluate this sweetener as safe are currently still justified.
That said, these first results show a now incontrovertible reality: we do not fully understand the consequences of industrialized food on our health.
Just because something is sold as 'natural' doesn't mean it's safe or good for us to produce and consume it on an industrial scale. Perhaps the best solution (the one that reconciles research, science and industry) is in the "restructuring" regular sugar to make it less sweet?