Artificial sweeteners in food linked to higher risk of heart disease

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In a study from French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, scientists suggest a possible link between higher intake of artificial sweeteners and increased heart disease risk, including heart attack and stroke.

Cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart or blood vessels) are the number one cause of death in the United States.

The most common type of cardiovascular disease is coronary artery disease, in which the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked.

Previous research found that eating a diet high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and related conditions, such as atherosclerosis.

Also, too much salt (sodium) in the diet can raise blood pressure. Not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart disease.

Artificial sweetener is a food additive that provides a sweet taste like that of sugar while containing significantly less food energy than sugar-based sweeteners, making it a zero-calorie or low-calorie sweetener.

The food industry uses various artificial sweeteners which are low in calorie content instead of high-calorie sugar.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-k, neotame, cyclamate, and alitame for use as acceptable daily intake (ADI) value.

In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the associations between artificial sweeteners from food (beverages, dairy products, etc), overall, and by molecule (aspartame, acesulfame-k, and sucralose), and risk of heart disease.

They analyzed data from more than 100,000 people in the NutriNet-Santé cohort. Their intakes of artificial sweeteners were assessed by repeated 24 h dietary records.

The researchers found that total artificial sweetener intake was linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

Artificial sweeteners were more particularly linked to cerebrovascular disease risk, such as stroke, blood clotting, and blood vessel narrowing.

Moreover, aspartame intake was linked to an increased risk of cerebrovascular events, and acesulfame-k and sucralose were linked to increased coronary heart disease risk.

These findings suggest a direct link between higher artificial sweetener consumption (especially aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose) and increased heart disease risk.

The team says artificial sweeteners are present in thousands of food and beverage brands worldwide, however, they remain a controversial topic.

Artificial sweeteners are currently being re-evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority, the World Health Organization, and other health agencies.

The study was conducted by Charlotte Debras et al and published in The BMJ.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and calcium supplements could harm your heart health.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that blackcurrants can reduce blood sugar after meals and results showing how drinking milk affects the risks of heart disease and cancer.

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