Artificial sweetener erythritol linked to blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes

A new study finds links between the sugar substitute erythritol and blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke — conditions Black Americans are predisposed to.

Do you use the artificial sweetener erythritol? You may be sweetening your food and drink with a risk of developing a heart attack, stroke, or blood clots.

A new study published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine concludes that a sugar replacement known as erythritol, used to add bulk or to sweeten stevia, monk fruit, and keto-reduced-sugar products, has been linked to blood clotting, stroke, heart attack, and even death.

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In an interview with CNN, lead study author Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, said, “the degree of risk was not modest.”

According to the study, Hazen said individuals with both existing risk factors for heart disease and the highest levels of erythritol in their blood were twice as likely to experience the severe impacts. Hazen added that erythritol’s risk was found to be “on par with the strongest of cardiac risk factors, like diabetes.”

As previously reported by The Grio, more than half of adult Black Americans are currently living with a major risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, roughly 55% of adult Black Americans are currently battling hypertension, or high blood pressure, which, if not managed properly, can lead to heart disease. Not to mention, roughly 12.1% of Black people in this country currently live with diabetes.

While the study makes clear that this ingredient could impact those with preexisting risk factors, it’s less clear what the risk is to those without them.

“The results of this study are contrary to decades of scientific research showing reduced-calorie sweeteners like erythritol are safe, as evidenced by global regulatory permissions for their use in foods and beverages. [The results] should not be extrapolated to the general population, as the participants in the intervention were already at increased risk for cardiovascular events,” Robert Rankin, executive director of the Calorie Control Council, wrote in an email response to the study to CNN.

Regardless, medical professionals are suggesting the general public consider limiting their intake of the ingredient.

“Obviously, more research is needed, but in an abundance of caution, it might make sense to limit erythritol in your diet for now,” said Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health.

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