Diet Sweetener Linked To Heart Risk

( – A common and popular low-calorie sugar replacement known for its low glycemic index and battling oral bacteria is being scrutinized for its potential to increase potentially fatal strokes and heart attacks.

Dr. Stanley Hazen runs the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostic and Prevention in Ohio at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. Hazen reported seeing the measurable levels of xylitol go up 1000-fold after giving volunteers a drink sweetened with it. Hazen compared the situation to sugar increasing glucose levels up to 20%.

Hazen highlighted that xylitol and many other new sugar-alternatives and low-calorie sweeteners are relatively new substances for humanity. Hazen’s team also found something similar with erythritol which is another sugar replacement.

Other research suggested that both xylitol and erythritol increase the tendency of blood platelets to aggregate and cause clots. Clots in blood that travel to the arteries of the heart of the brain can cause heart attacks or strokes.

Dr. Matthew Tomey criticized the study, however, suggesting that the experiments don’t prove xylitol causes strokes or heart attacks. Tomey is a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Fuster Heart Hospital in NYC and isn’t connected to the study.

Dr. Andrew Freeman is a cardiologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado. He suggested that due to the overall poor condition of many Americans’ cardiovascular health, any increase in the blood’s tendency to clot could prove fatal. He highlighted that anti-clotting drugs are the first thing doctors give to someone experiencing a heart attack. He added that if sugar-alcohols like xylitol can increase the tendency to clot, that would make them dangerous for people with certain conditions. Freeman advised consumers to stick to water with unsweetened tea or coffee as “a close second.”

An industry spokeswoman said that the data defies decades of research indicating that these substances are safe.

Hazen highlighted that the xylitol is preferred by doctors and dieticians as it doesn’t spike blood-sugar levels like regular sugar, glucose, or fructose (fruit sugar) does.

It’s also endorsed by multiple professional organizations as a sugar-replacement for patients suffering with obesity, diabetes, or anyone who needs to strictly regulate their blood sugar levels.

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