Common Sugar Substitute May Increase Heart Risks at Higher Levels, Study Finds

In a new study, patients who consumed higher levels of xylitol were more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke over a three-year period. Xylitol is used in some sugar-free gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste.

A new study finds xylitol, a common sugar substitute, may be harmful for your heart if you consume too much. The zero-calorie sweetener is used in sugar-free candy, gum, baked goods and dental products like toothpaste.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic say higher amounts of xylitol may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

They looked at the impact of the sweetener on more than 3,000 adults in the U.S. and Europe and found patients with the highest amount of xylitol in their blood plasma were more likely to suffer a cardiac event over a three-year period.

Further investigation found xylitol may raise the risk of blood clots. The researchers tracked platelet activity in people who were given a xylitol-sweetened drink or a glucose-sweetened drink and every measure of clotting ability significantly increased immediately following ingestion of xylitol, but not glucose, according to the results.

One author says, “This study again shows the immediate need for investigating sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, especially as they continue to be recommended in combatting conditions like obesity or diabetes.”

But he adds, it does not mean throw out your toothpaste with xylitol; just be aware that high levels could increase the risk of blood-clot-related events.

Source: Cleveland Clinic, European Heart Journal 

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