Artificial Sweeteners May Increase The Risk Of Heart Disease

Artificial Sweeteners May Increase The Risk Of Heart Disease

At any given moment, there are millions, perhaps billions, of people who want to lose weight or cut down on calories. In an effort to be healthier, many people switch to artificial sweeteners, which are commonly in pudding, candy, jams and jellies, diet soft drinks, and dairy products. While the zero-calorie or low-calorie aspect may seem enticing, consuming artificial sweeteners may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study.

The study followed more than 100,000 adults for about a decade, making it among the largest to date to identify heart-related problems with sugar substitutes. The BMJ noted that artificial sweeteners increased the overall risk of any form of cardiovascular disease by 9%. Consuming artificial sweeteners increased the risk of stroke by 18%. Additionally, the participants in the study experienced an increased risk of cerebrovascular disease, which refers to a group of conditions that affect blood flow to the brain.

The BMJ Study

At the beginning of the study none of the participants had a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Nobody was diagnosed with either of these conditions during the first two years of the study. Over these initial two years, participants completed five food questionnaires, which revealed that 37% of them consumed artificial sweeteners. Those who did consumed an average of 43 milligrams (mg) per day. That is roughly the amount in one tabletop sweetener packet. People with the highest artificial sweetener consumption ingested about 78 mg per day, while participants who consumed the least took in 7.5 mg per day.

Over the course of the study, there were 1,502 cardiovascular events, including strokes, heart attacks, clogging of blood vessels, and more. There were also medical procedures that had to restore blood flow in the obstructed arteries or veins. According to researchers, the annual absolute risk of cardiovascular disease was 314 cases per 100,000 people among the participants who didn’t consume artificial sweeteners. The number of cases increased to 346 for people who took in the most artificial sweeteners. 

Were Risks Higher Based On Different Sweeteners?

The study concluded that the risks of cardiovascular disease increased if participants consumed certain sweeteners. The consumption of aspartame, which is in NutraSweet and Equal sweeteners, increased the risk of stroke by 17%. Acesulfame potassium, sold under names like Sunett and Sweet One, was linked to a 40% increased risk of coronary heart disease. 

Because this was not a controlled study, the primary goal was not to determine if artificial sweeteners directly caused cardiovascular episodes. The results may have been skewed by the poor recollection of participants, regarding what they ate and drank. 

Is It Safe To Consume Artificial Sweeteners?

It’s natural for people to turn to foods or beverages with artificial sweeteners if they want to control blood sugar or lose weight. Unfortunately, this way of thinking is not healthy for the brain, heart, or body in general. Artificial sweeteners have been around for more than 100 years, though, originally found in the Sweet’N Low sugar substitute in 1879. Since then, researchers have found other artificial sugar substitutes like sucralose, aspartame, stevia, and xylitol. 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, controversy and artificial sweeteners have gone hand in hand. There have been warnings and concerns about type 2 diabetes and weight gain, but results are varied and inconclusive. Despite concerns from health officials, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers the consumption of artificial sweeteners safe. The caveat is that people do not exceed the acceptable daily intake for each sweetener. For example, the FDA says that a 132-pound person could consume 23 packets of sucralose (in Splenda) before exceeding the daily limit. 

The more artificial sweeteners you consume, the more you increase your risk of certain health disorders. As the study found, the participants that consumed more artificial sweeteners experienced higher rates of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. An occasional sweetener may not ruin your life, but regular consumption, especially in excess, may compromise your overall health. The general recommendation: limit your consumption altogether because foods that contain artificial sweeteners also contain other harmful preservatives, toxins, and chemicals. Consider switching to natural options like stevia, allulose, and monk fruit for better long-term health.

2022-09-28T16:04:15-07:00

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