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Study Links Artificial Sweeteners to Heart Disease


Artificial sweeteners | Image by Shutterstock

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Artificial sweeteners have often been used as a tool for those struggling with their weight to help shed a few pounds. However, emerging evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners may be linked to heart disease.

The French study assessed over 100,000 participants aged 28-56 from 2009 until 2021. For all 12 years of the study, the participants kept daily food logs.

After the study, researchers observed that those who consumed higher levels of aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel) and acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One) had a 40% increased risk of coronary heart disease. Meanwhile, the participants who ingested higher levels of sucralose (Splenda) showed a 30% increase.

The researchers suggest a “potential direct association between artificial sweetener consumption … and increased cardiovascular disease risk.”

This is not the first study to suggest that artificial sweeteners lead to negative health outcomes.

Previous studies have found that artificial sweeteners may be highly addictive, lead to long-term weight gain, and increase the chance of cancer.

Despite the concerns surrounding the safety of artificial sweeteners, they are a $7.2 billion industry worldwide.

Market data forecast writes that artificial sweeteners have indeed become so prominent due in large part to a “healthy-savvy” shift towards low-calorie or sugar-free foods in consumers’ consumption patterns. In response, food producers “use high-strength artificial sweeteners to provide lighter products with fewer calories and attractive flavor properties, based on consumer preference.”

An AP-Ipsos study found that 39% of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 look at calories first when evaluating a purchase. This creates a “rush to the bottom” for food producers and makes artificial sweeteners much more attractive as an additive to food.

“We know that too much added sugar is not good for our health. Artificial sweeteners provide a sweet and palatable alternative that has few or no calories,” said Allison Sylvetsky, an associate professor in the department of exercise and nutrition studies at George Washington University.

“Until recently,” Sylvetsky added, “it’s been the belief that these sweeteners don’t really do anything in the body because they don’t contain calories.” As a result, one of her studies found a high prevalence of artificial sweetener use not only among adults but also children — respectively 25.1% and 41.4%.

An additional aspect of artificial sweeteners is that they can taste sweeter than regular sugar. Aspartame, in particular, is 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Dr. David Ludwig, a weight loss specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, suggested that over time artificial sweeteners can change the way people taste. “Overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit tolerance for more complex tastes,” Ludwig explained.

On the other hand, table sugar is high in calories and low in nutrition. Consumption of table sugar can lead to weight gain, which also increases the risk of heart disease.

For those looking to satisfy a sweet tooth, Ludwig suggests a return to regular sugar “in [its] natural form.” For instance, “whole fruit … tend to be highly nutritious — nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in glycemic load.”

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18 days ago

I find your article interesting but perhaps you should have checked the picture before posting. Stevia which is in the center of the picture is not artificial and should not be in the picture at all.