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Popular Artificial Sweetener Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Attack: What We Know

Xylitol, a popular sugar substitute, is commonly used in sugar-free chewing gums, mints and toothpaste.

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Fit
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Xylitol, a popular artificial sweetener commonly used in toothpaste and sugar-free chewing gum, has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues including heart attack and stroke, by a study published in the European Heart Journal.

What is xylitol? What did the study find? How does regular use of sugar substitutes impact your body?

Read on to find out.

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What the study found: Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic, led by cardiologist Stanley Hazen, conducted several studies with more than 3,000 participants, who were followed over three years.

Researchers found that the participants who had suffered a cardiovascular event during this period also had high blood levels of xylitol.

The researchers also found clotting in the blood of participants who had consumed xylitol-sweetened drinks. These Blood clots can travel through the arteries into vital organs such as the heart leading to heart attack and stroke.

They, however, goes on to warn that while the studies have shown a link between xylitol and a higher risk of cardiovascular issues, the studies haven't shown that xylitol will cause these events.

Why it matters: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that mimics the taste of sugar but contains fewer calories than actual sugar. It also has a very low Glycemic Index which means it does not cause your blood sugar to spike like regular sugar, making it a popular sugar substitute, especially for diabetic-friendly foods.

The kicker is that it is commonly used in frequently used products like sugar-free chewing gums, candies, mints, diabetes- and oral-care products like toothpaste and mouthwash.
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The bigger picture: This isn't the first time that artificial sweeteners have come under the scanner for being linked to potential health risks.

In 2023, research led by the same cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic found that erythritol, another sugar substitute found in popular artificial sweeteners like Stevia and Aspartame, could cause an increased risk for major adverse cardiovascular events.

Dive deeper: FIT has previously spoken to experts to understand the impact of different artificial sweeteners on your health, and the risks and benefits associated with their regular use.

At the time, Dr Subhash Kumar Wangnoo, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist and Diabetologist at Delhi's Apollo Hospitals told FIT, “Those who consistently used NSS showed no reduction in body fat or body weight.”

Experts also explained that people who use on-sugar sweeteners on a daily basis were found to have an increased incidence of Type-2 diabetes and increased morbidity. Read the full story here.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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