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Using erythritol as an alternative sweetener is linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to a large Cleveland Clinic study involving over 4000 people.
For nearly 10 years, I’ve warned my readers to avoid erythritol, which is found in a dizzying array of low-carb foods and alternative sweeteners like Swerve.
This low-calorie sweetener is very popular among people following the keto diet, Trim Healthy Mama, or similar low-carb weight loss protocols.
Erythritol is perhaps the most popular of the sugar alcohols, which contribute to an imbalance in the gut, among other potential harms to beneficial gut flora.
This nail in the coffin for erythritol shows once again that there is no such thing as a free lunch when you are trying to change your diet to get healthy.
Fake sweeteners like erythritol and chemical cousins like diarrhea-inducing xylitol just won’t get you there in the long run.
In other words, you can’t have your artificially sweetened flourless cake and eat it too.
You need to eat REAL FOODS to be healthy…this includes whole sweeteners like raw honey or maple syrup if you want to indulge in the occasional sweet treat!
Let’s look at the details of this damning study on erythritol.
You’d be well advised to go to your pantry and toss whatever it contains right away!
Large study with over 4000 participants
The Cleveland Clinic conducted the study using the peer-reviewed journal naturopathy Results to be published in February 2023. (1)
The study included more than 4,000 participants in America and Europe. (2)
The results showed that people with higher levels of erythritol in their blood had a higher risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or even death.
They also looked at the effects of adding erythritol to whole blood or isolated platelets, which are fragments of cells that clump together to stop bleeding and contribute to blood clots. The results showed that erythritol facilitated the activation of platelets and the formation of a clot. Confirmed by preclinical studies Taking erythritol increased clot formation [emphasis mine]. (3)
Correlation or causation?
The large study on the negative health effects of blood levels of erythritol shows an associated risk and is not a double-blind causal research.
However, in the wise words of Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo,
Just because correlation doesn’t equal causation doesn’t mean we should abandon common sense!
Ignoring this research because the connection is associative is very short-sighted.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, erythritol is about 70 percent as sweet as sugar.
However, when consumed, the intestinal tract has difficulty metabolizing the product.
That means some of it gets into the blood where it doesn’t belong.
The Cleveland Clinic press release described the scenario as follows:
instead it [erythritol] enters the bloodstream and leaves the body mainly through the urine. The human body naturally produces small amounts of erythritol, so any additional consumption can accumulate.
Predictably, Calorie Control Council Executive Director Robert Rankin downplayed the study’s findings because “contrary to decades of scientific research showing that reduced-calorie sweeteners like erythritol are safe, as evidenced by worldwide regulatory approvals for their use in food and beverages”. (4)
Hmmm. I don’t think “global regulatory approvals” is an indicator that anything is even safe!
As one of many examples of how ridiculous this statement is, consider that the FDA allows aluminum in cheese processing. Is this a guarantee of the safety of aluminum in human consumption?
Smart consumers who have eaten erythritol would do well to eliminate this artificial sweetener from their diet. These include, but are not limited to, related sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, isomalt, mannitol, lactitol, and maltitol.
(1) The artificial sweetener erythritol and the risk of cardiovascular events
(2, 3) Cleveland Clinic study finds that more artificial sweetener is linked to higher heart attack and stroke rates
(4) Study: Erythritol Sweetener Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke