Does erythritol increase the risk of blood clots?

By March 7, 2023 Health, Science

We came across a post on Twitter warning people to avoid erythritol, a form of artificial sweetener. In support of his warning, the author of the post refers to a new study from Nature Medicine Journal which has allegedly found that consuming erythritol increased the risk of stroke, heart attacks, and blood clots.

What is erythritol

Erythritol is a low-calorie artificial sweetener, usually used as a replacement for sugar. It is also generally considered safer for diabetics to consume, compared to sugar, as it does not affect blood glucose levels after ingestion.


New study on effects of erythritol

The new study examines the effects of long-term erythritol consumption on the risks of developing cardiometabolic diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

The study, which was conducted by Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit academic medical centre based in the United States (US), found that adding erythritol to blood increased the likelihood of clotting. It also found that people with high levels of erythritol in their blood were more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke.

Although the study analysed about 4000 blood samples of participants from the US and Europe, a majority were above the age of 60. The participants were also at an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke or already suffered from cardiovascular diseases.

However, the authors of the study reasoned that those with existing heart disease and diabetes were more likely to consume erythritol, in place of sugar, to control their blood sugar or reduce the calories they consume.

In addition, the study also tracked the erythritol levels of 8 healthy volunteers, through blood tests, after they had consumed about 30 grams of erythritol. 30 grams of erythritol was supposedly a common amount that was ingested by many Americans. For perspective, 30 grams of erythritol can be obtained from consuming 1 pint of keto ice cream.

The tests conducted on the healthy individuals revealed that levels of erythritol in their blood remained elevated for over 2 days, above the threshold necessary to increase clotting risk.

Nevertheless, the study did concede that the applicability of the study to the general population still needs to be determined. Moreover, the study shows the correlation between high erythritol levels and high clotting risk but is unable to confirm that long-term consumption of erythritol will lead to cardiometabolic diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

Is erythritol a cause for worry?

All in all, the authors of the study have stated that further investigations have to be conducted and they would not go as far as saying that the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of erythritol should be reconsidered.

In Singapore, erythritol is still a permitted food additive and has not been deemed unsafe for consumption by the Singapore Food Agency.

Therefore, more research is necessary before asserting that erythritol will lead to an increased risk of blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks.

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