Popular zero-calorie sweetener linked to heart attack and stroke

Originally published at: Popular zero-calorie sweetener linked to heart attack and stroke | Boing Boing


Once again, weird food tech proves to be unhealthy. Eating less sugar seems to be a pretty winning strategy though.


Yikes! Be careful out there, Mark!

I’m sticking with my stevia, thank you very much!


I’ll reinvestigate saccharine, invented originally as an ant poison… I’ll check back when I can. I still have to finish off all this cyclamate cola I had in my basement…


I could be misunderstanding, but stevia doesn’t have naturally occurring erythritol, but is blended to make it sweeter and, I assume has lower cost than a plant extractive like stevia. I’ve seen stevia brands that claim to be 100% stevia, so you probably have options. One I had didn’t even taste like aspartame! (ETA: just looked and there are loads of stevia brands with no additives. Enjoy!)

Exactly. I love sugar, but eat very little. I don’t need it in everything and enjoy it more when it’s a treat. I’m sure af not going to put some crazy-ass chemical cocktail in place of it.



This is something that should be looked into further, but this has all the hallmarks of a sensationalistic food health nothingburger: No discussion of absolute risk, correlation, but not a lot of causation (animal, not human study, and everything else in vitro). Not that I use erythritol, but my BS meter was pinging.



Human study, 1157 patients, over three years

Link is funky, but it seems readable if you go from here


Pretty much what I was thinking. There’s a long history of single studies that seem to show that artificial sweetener X, Y or Z is in some way harmful, and those single studies never seem to result in a consensus through peer review and replication.
If only people were as quick to act on matters of overwhelming scientific consensus as they are on single studies that show that some common food additive is actually the silent killer in your kitchen.


Well, crap. I should’ve known something I found to be palatable instead of sugar wasn’t going to be good for me. Oh well – I am glad I hadn’t used it much. And I think it won’t hurt to finish out what I’ve already bought, since it’s used sparingly here and there during the day (a spoonful in oatmeal, for example).

Maybe just using a spoonful of real sugar in my morning oatmeal would be less harmful in the long run than any substitutes.


Additional lab and animal research presented in the paper revealed that erythritol appeared to be causing blood platelets to clot more readily. Clots can break off and travel to the heart, triggering a heart attack, or to the brain, triggering a stroke.

For most people this is bad news but for folks like myself with bleeding disorders (I have ITP) this could lead to interesting new treatments. Hemophiliacs would love to have stickier platelets.


Does look more concerning than the usual research news, which is often misunderstood by the press. Although even in the main news report, many are saying it just “needs more study.”

I hope all of you find substitutes if you’re worried. I stick with regular sugar these days, but I’ve never found a substitute that tastes good to me. I just try to eat less of it and/or smaller portions of the stuff I love that’s sweet.


I am also dubious of the artificial sweeteners, “natural” or otherwise. It’d be good if one existed where research showed improved health over comparable sugar consumption over a a number of years.


While I think most artificial sweeteners are unfairly maligned due to people thinking “there must be a catch,” erythritol-containing sweeteners were already a problem for many before this news. Erythritol and other similar sugar alcohols like sorbitol are well known to cause gastric distress even in relatively small quantities - diarrhea and gas. Even without the possibility of it causing other issues, I was already avoiding it and the other sugar alcohol sweeteners having had experienced this multiple times. I’ve never found other artificial sweeteners problematic.

Allulose is an underrated naturally occurring sweetener, not calorie-free but only 10% of the calories of table sugar, tastes and bakes just like sugar, and doesn’t raise blood glucose. Pretty much nothing to dislike, and it seems like it rarely comes up in these discussions, probably because it was hard to find until just a few years ago. I don’t mind aspartame or sucralose - I can’t resist the siren song of diet soda - but if I’m making something for myself, allulose does a better job, especially with baking.


Try Better Stevia in the eight oz bottle. Been using it for close to 20 years. It’s potent stuff, so use it sparingly. I use approx five eye-droppers-full for a 3/4 gallon batch of iced tea, for example. Stevia is not only very safe, it looks like there may be some health benefits from consuming it. The flavor can put some people off at first. If you are finding it too strongly flavored, that usually means you should use a bit less. Finding the right amount for whatever you are sweetening is key.


You’re right on the money here. I checked my stevia brand and found that it’s mostly erythritol with a little bit of stevia thrown in. Makes sense, because it comes in little packets (like sugar packets) to make it more convenient to use in tea, and pure stevia requires such a small amount that it doesn’t let itself easily to the “sugar packet” configuration.

That being said, I’m not a frequent consumer of added sweeteners (nor am I a diabetic), so I’m probably okay with my current habits…?

Nah, I’m throwing it out and going au naturale.


You can also get pure monkfruit; stevia, like monkfruit can be cut with lots of other things to bulk it up for more sugar-like usage.


Daaamn! I thought I was the nut for making 1/2 gal batches! Though having grown up in Missouri where iced tea is a syrup, I cannot stand sweetened tea.

BTW, I recently discovered a great “hack”; cold brewing (new to me, anyway). We have hard water here, so properly steeped tea always goes cloudy when chilled. I recently discovered that just soaking the tea bags in tap-cold water for 2+ hours and then refrigerating gives crystal-clear tea with zero effort or electricity/gas. Still plenty of flavor and “pep”, too.


Ah yes, cyclamates, I did a Jr. High science project on the dangers of cyclamates back in the day when they were still used, and nearly got thrown out of school. Good times …


Erythritol may or may not be unhealthy, but it isn’t some “weird food tech”. Yes, most commercially available erythritol results from glucose being fermented by a particular fungus, but it is naturally occurring in various plants at a lower level. Which proves nothing about its healthiness of course, but it’s irritating when people hear a chemical name and assume it must have been invented in a laboratory.


I used to drink coffee with milk and sugar, my path to get off the sugar was to drink coffee black for a while. Got used to it. Then I added just the milk to it, and suddenly it became more tolerable, and I don’t miss the sugar. Milk/cream has some lactose in it, but not as much sugar as I used to drink.