Xylitol Crystals - © 2018 - Medical News Today

Sweetener May Increase Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

A common artificial sweetener found in some processed foods and pharmaceuticals may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Xylitol has been linked to dangerous blood clotting. The researchers say to beware of foods with high levels…

Xylitol - © 2024 - Amazon

Xylitol is a non-nutritive sweetener cleared for use in the US and Canada. It’s also available as a ‘healthy sugar replacement’ through all the usual supplement suppliers (see photo, left).

The Health Canada List of Permitted Sweeteners simply says the stuff, de-fined as a ‘sugar alcohol’, is permitted in ‘unstandardized foods’, in accordance with ‘good manufacturing practice’. Re-searchers wanted to know what effects it might have on heart health…

What they did

Dr. Stanley Hazen is Chair of Cardiovas-cular and Metabolic Sciences at Cleve-land Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute and Co-Section Head of Preventive Car-diology in the Heart, Vascular & Thora-cic Institute. Quite a mouthful. But it certifies him as a leading authority on his subject.

The Dr. and his team set out to discover what link, if any, existed between Xylitol and heart conditions. They looked at the health data of 3,000 subjects in North America and Europe, noting their Xylitol consumption and blood levels, and their cardiac health.

What they found

“A third of patients with the highest amount of xylitol in their plasma were more likely to experience a cardiovascular event,” an abstract of the survey report explains. “To confirm the findings, the re-search team conducted pre-clinical testing and found that xylitol caused platelets to clot and heightened the risk of thrombosis.

“Researchers also tracked platelet activity from people who ingested a xylitol-sweetened drink versus a glucose-sweetened drink and found that every measure of clotting ability significantly increased immediately following ingestion of xylitol but not glucose.”

The takeaway

“This study […] 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,” Hazen concludes. “It does not mean throw out your toothpaste if it has xylitol in it, but we should be aware that consumption of a product containing high levels could increase the risk of blood clot related events.”

My take

The good news is, Xylitol is far more popular in Europe than it is over here. But that doesn’t cancel out the potential dangers of consuming foods and over-the-counter medicines that contain it.

I’m going to start looking closely at ingredient lists on stuff like cough syrup, sweetened drinks and desserts that might contain Xylitol…

~ Maggie J.