March 3, 2024

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Sugar free beverages may increase the risk of heart disease

Sugar free beverages may increase the risk of heart disease


Sugar free beverages may increase the risk of heart disease.

Zero sugar is not healthy, the latest research from Nature Medicine: Commonly used artificial sweeteners may increase the risk of heart disease.


With economic development and improvement of living standards, obesity has become a major public health problem worldwide .

According to the statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO) , nearly 2 billion people in the world are overweight or obese. From 1975 to 2016, the global obesity rate has nearly tripled, and the annual death rate due to overweight or obesity is as high as 2.8 million.


The rapid increase in obesity rates worldwide is largely due to the influence of life factors such as high-sugar diets.

In order to reduce the impact of sugar on health and obesity, more and more people begin to use artificial sweeteners instead of normal sugars ( sugar substitutes) , these artificial sweeteners have the sweet taste of sugars but are generally not converted by the body and therefore are non-caloric.

It is considered a healthy dietary addition and has been widely used in foods and beverages to reduce sugar and calorie intake.



Erythritol is a natural substance, also found in small amounts in some vegetables and fruits, that is difficult for our bodies to metabolize and is used as an artificial sweetener because of its sweet taste.

In recent years, some popular zero-sugar, zero-fat and zero-calorie drinks are actually a large amount of erythritol added.


Artificial sweeteners such as erythritol are also generally considered safe by regulators and are often recommended as a sugar substitute for people with metabolic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease , but few studies have investigated their long-term health effects .

Do these artificial sweeteners have any effect on the human body? Are they really healthy?


On February 27, 2023, researchers from the Cleveland Medical Center in the United States published a research paper entitled: The artificial sweetener erythritol and cardiovascular event risk in the top international medical journal Nature Medicine .


The study suggests that the commonly used artificial sweetener erythritol may be linked to heart disease events.


Sugar free beverages may increase the risk of heart disease



The research team conducted a preliminary study in 1157 people who had been assessed for heart disease risk and had 3-year outcome data.

By analyzing the chemicals in the blood, the research team observed that levels of several compounds that appeared to be artificial sweeteners , notably erythritol , were associated with increased risk of future heart disease and stroke during the three-year follow-up.


Sugar free beverages may increase the risk of heart disease

This association was confirmed in independent array studies that performed selective cardiac assessments in the US (n = 2149) and Europe (n = 833) .


Sugar free beverages may increase the risk of heart disease


The research team further found that erythritol in whole blood or platelets led to accelerated thrombus formation , which was confirmed in animal model studies.


Sugar free beverages may increase the risk of heart disease

Erythritol promotes blood clot formation in the body


The research team also conducted a prospective intervention study in 8 healthy volunteers. After the volunteers ingested 30 grams of erythritol beverage, their plasma levels were tested, and it was found that the erythritol levels of all volunteers continued to increase, exceeding the threshold of increased risk of blood clotting within 2-3 days.


The research team believes that this study may show that increased levels of erythritol are associated with an increased risk of blood clots .

They note, however, that because of the high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in the array they studied, it remains to be confirmed whether similar results are observed with longer follow-up of apparently healthy subjects.


It is worth mentioning that a recent study shows that artificial sweeteners can significantly affect the human intestinal flora , which in turn changes the human blood sugar level.


In August 2022, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science published a research paper entitled: Personalized microbiome-driven effects of non-nutritive sweeteners on human glucose tolerance in the top international academic journal Cell .


The study confirmed that artificial sweeteners (sugar substitutes), which have long been considered healthy and widely used, are not inert in the human body , and they can significantly affect the human intestinal flora, thereby altering human blood sugar levels.



As early as 2014, Eran Elinav ‘s team at the Weizmann Institute of Science discovered that artificial sweeteners affect the gut microbiome of mice, thereby affecting their blood sugar response. And this time, they went a step further to explore the effects of artificial sweeteners on humans.


The research team carefully screened more than 1,300 people who strictly avoid artificial sweeteners in their daily lives, and identified 120 people to participate in follow-up experiments.

The participants were divided into six groups: two control groups and four experimental groups consuming saccharin , sucralose , stevia and aspartame , these intakes are below the daily intake allowed by the FDA. The two groups of control groups received the same amount of glucose or no additional intake.


The results showed that among the participants who consumed artificial sweeteners, significant changes in the composition and function of their gut microbes, as well as molecules secreted into the peripheral blood, could be readily observed.

This seems to indicate that the gut microbes in humans are quite sensitive to each of these sweeteners. Of these artificial sweeteners, saccharin and sucralose more significantly affected glucose tolerance in healthy adults . Moreover, changes in the gut microbiome were highly correlated with changes in people’s blood sugar response.


These studies suggest that artificial sweeteners are not as safe as we previously thought, and further research is necessary to evaluate the long-term safety of artificial sweeteners.






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Sugar free beverages may increase the risk of heart disease

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Important Note: The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice.