Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Heart Disease

A potential direct association between higher artificial sweetener consumption and increased cardiovascular disease risk, including heart attack and stroke has been uncovered by a large study of French adults published on September 7 by The BMJ.

These food additives are consumed daily by millions of people and are present in thousands of foods and drinks. The findings indicate that these artificial sweeteners should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar, in line with the current position of several health agencies…

Because this is an observational study, it can’t establish cause. Additionally, the researchers cannot rule out the possibility that other unknown (confounding) factors might have affected their results.

Nevertheless, this was a large study that evaluated individuals’ artificial sweetener intake using precise, high-quality dietary data. Furthermore, the findings are in line with other studies linking exposure to artificial sweeteners with several markers of poor health.

This article and others associated with it say that there haven’t been any long-term studies differentiating between strictly artificial sugar substitutes and products derived from the stevia plant. Often used to produce sugar alternatives rather than artificial substitutes.

I have to put in a plug here for my own reading – and opinion. The safety and usefulness as an alternative of the herb stevia is one that I’ve decided to make my own choice.

Stevia’s history goes back to ancient times. Grown naturally in tropical climates, stevia is an herb in the chrysanthemum family that grows wild as a small shrub in Paraguay and Brazil, though it can easily be cultivated elsewhere. Paraguayans have used stevia as a food sweetener for centuries while other countries, including Brazil, Korea, Japan, China and much of South America, have a shorter, though still long-standing, record of stevia use…

There are more than 100 species of stevia plant, but one stands out for its excellent properties as a sweetener—stevia rebaudiana, which contains the compound rebaudioside A, the sweetest-flavored component of the stevia leaf. Rebaudioside A acts chemically similar to sugar in onset, intensity and duration of sweetness, and is free of aftertaste. A majority of stevia-sweetened products contain mostly extracted Rebaudioside A with some proportion of stevioside, which is a white crystalline compound present in stevia that tastes 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.

This article is about a decade old and continues to serve as a reliable analysis. Conclusions endorse a number of brands of stevia-derived products. Including, I must admit, my favorite. Though, in practice, my feelings about a healthy lifestyle, nutrition and exercise, don’t especially include cultivating a taste for sweets. My only use is in 2 of the 4 cups of traditionally-strong styles of coffee I consume daily. :-]

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