By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern
Sugar-free candy, sugar-free soda, sugar-free energy drinks, you name it. There are so many sugar-free food and drink options available to consumers! How is it possible for these products can taste so sweet yet have no sugar and little to no calories? It all comes down to artificial sugars and sugar alcohols, such as stevia, sucralose, monk fruit, erythritol, and more. While these artificial sugars do allow us to enjoy something sweet without the guilt of consuming a bunch of empty calories, there are a few potential drawbacks to using these sweeteners, specifically erythritol.
According to a recent study, consuming high quantities of erythritol was linked to an increased risk of blood clotting, heart attacks, and stroke. For those who were already at a higher risk for heart disease or diabetes, the chances of them having a heart attack or stroke doubled after consuming large amounts of erythritol. Researchers say that the reason for this increased risk of heart issues is that erythritol causes blood platelets to clot more readily, and these clots can travel to the heart or brain causing either a heart attack or a stroke.
On the flip side, however, other studies have been done that claim that erythritol is a safe sugar alternative to use. Since other studies have shown it to be safe, the study’s lead author, Dr. Stanley Hazen notes that this study only shows a correlation but still advises those who are already at a high risk of heart issues or diabetes to avoid or significantly limit their intake of erythritol out of caution.
With that being said, choose your sweeteners wisely! For more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!