Xylitol’s Impact on Stroke and Heart Attack Rates

Concerns about the safety of artificial sweeteners have resurfaced. The term “sugar alcohol” might already sound concerning in terms of health, and recent findings support such skepticism. A study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic has found that xylitol, a low-calorie sugar substitute, is associated with a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, or deaths related to cardiovascular issues.

Xylitol, a sugar substitute with fewer calories and a low glycemic index, is a type of sugar alcohol naturally present in modest amounts in fruits and vegetables, and is also produced by the human body. Despite the name, sugar alcohols do not contain actual alcohol. As a food additive, xylitol resembles sugar in appearance and taste but contains 40% fewer calories. It is utilized in significantly higher concentrations than those occurring naturally in products like sugar-free gum, candies, toothpaste, and baked goods, and is often found in items marketed as keto-friendly.

The research team noted that over the last ten years, the use of sugar substitutes, including sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, has greatly increased in processed foods advertised as healthy options. Xylitol, in particular, is being integrated into dietary guidelines, and those most at risk of consuming it are individuals with diabetes, which are also the ones most vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes. Additionally, this uptick in the use of sugar substitutes coincides with growing concerns about escalating obesity rates.

The research team conducted a study involving over 3,000 participants from the U.S. and Europe over a three-year period. They discovered that individuals with the highest levels of xylitol in their blood were more prone to cardiovascular issues. To examine the immediate effects of xylitol, the researchers monitored platelet activity in participants who consumed drinks sweetened with xylitol and glucose. Following the consumption of the xylitol-sweetened drink, xylitol levels in the participants surged by 1,000 times, a spike not observed after drinking the glucose-sweetened beverage.

While further research is necessary, it may be wise to steer clear of xylitol and other sugar alcohols, which typically end in ‘itol. It’s advisable to use small amounts of natural sweeteners like sugar, honey, or fruit instead. Rather than substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners, a better approach might be to focus on enhancing the diet with high-quality components such as vegetables and fruits that provide natural sugars.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Xylitol is prothrombotic and associated with cardiovascular risk