Healthy Highlights: by U.S. News Health

Bittersweet News
Erythritol, a sugar alcohol often added to reduced-sugar products and sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit and keto reduced-sugar products has been linked to blood clotting and a heightened risk of cardiovascular events and mortality, according to a new study published in Nature Medicine.
Researchers said people with existing heart disease risk factors who had the highest levels of erythritol in their blood, had double the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Researchers first found the correlation between increased erythritol levels and adverse cardiac events when analyzing chemicals and compounds in 1,157 blood samples of those who were at risk for heart disease that were collected between 2004 and 2011. After discovering the link, the researchers confirmed their results by testing a larger sample of 2,100 people in the United States and 833 samples in Europe.
So should you switch to a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup? Or cut out sweeteners altogether?
Whatever sweetener you choose, moderating your intake of refined sugars may benefit your overall health and wellness. Even regular sugar can precipitate heart damage.
Sugar overconsumption can lead to weight gain and obesity – both of which are known causes of high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome – common culprits in cardiovascular disease.
In addition, excess sugar gets converted into fat and elevates levels of artery-clogging cholesterol, the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.
The average American puts away more than 150 pounds per year of the sweet stuff, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
If you decide to curb your sugar intake, be aware that sugars may be hiding in foods beyond cookies, ice cream and other sweets. That’s because added sugar hides in many commonly consumed foods – even ones that aren’t super sweet. Talk to your health care provider if you’re concerned about your risk. And in the meantime, if you’re craving a little sweetness, consider a piece of fruit – or low-carb fruit if you’re watching your carbs.
~ Gretel H. Schueller, Managing
Editor, Health