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Common low-calorie sweetener linked to heart attack and stroke, study finds | CNN

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses a study that found a link between the consumption of the low-calorie sweetener xylitol and an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death. The study suggests that xylitol may cause blood platelets to clot more readily, leading to cardiovascular events.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Xylitol and Cardiovascular Risks

1. What did the study find about the link between xylitol consumption and cardiovascular events?

  • The study found that people with the highest levels of xylitol in their blood had nearly twice the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death compared to those with the lowest levels.
  • The researchers believe this is because xylitol may cause blood platelets to clot more readily, leading to clots that can travel to the heart or brain and trigger a heart attack or stroke.

2. How do the xylitol levels found in the study compare to normal sugar consumption?

  • The researchers found that when healthy volunteers consumed a typical drink with xylitol, their xylitol levels increased by 1,000-fold, much higher than the 10-20% increase seen with normal sugar consumption.
  • The researchers stated that "Humankind has not experienced levels of xylitol this high except within the last couple of decades when we began ingesting completely contrived and sugar-substituted processed foods."

3. What are some of the common products that contain xylitol?

  • Xylitol is often used in sugarless gum, breath mints, toothpaste, mouthwash, cough syrup, chewable vitamins, candy, baked goods, sauces, peanut butter, and more.
  • It is marketed as a "natural" sweetener that is low in carbs and keto-friendly.

4. What are the concerns raised by experts about the use of xylitol?

  • Cardiologists are concerned that the increased platelet clotting seen with xylitol consumption is a "bad sign" and could lead to more cardiovascular events.
  • Experts recommend switching to water, unsweetened tea, or coffee instead of consuming products with xylitol and other artificial sweeteners.

[02] Comparison to Other Sweeteners

1. How do the findings on xylitol compare to the previous research on erythritol?

  • In a previous 2023 study, the researchers found similar results for the low-calorie sweetener erythritol, which is used as a bulking sugar in stevia, monk fruit, and keto products.
  • The erythritol study also found that the highest levels of erythritol in the blood were linked to nearly double the risk of heart attack and stroke.

2. What do the researchers believe is the mechanism behind the increased clotting with these sweeteners?

  • The researchers believe there is a receptor on blood platelets that can recognize the molecular structure of these sweeteners and signal the platelets to be more prone to clotting.
  • This occurs even with modest consumption of these sweeteners, not just at very high levels.

3. How do the regulatory bodies view the safety of these low-calorie sweeteners?

  • The US FDA recognizes sugar alcohols like xylitol as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS).
  • However, the World Health Organization has warned consumers to avoid artificial sweeteners for weight loss and called for more research on their long-term toxicity.
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