While artificial sweeteners may seem like a good alternative to sugar to reduce caloric intake, a study published in The BMJ suggests there may be a connection between such sweeteners and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), including stroke.
The research, conducted by the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, is not the first study to suggest a connection between artificial sweeteners and increased risk for heart disease, however, it is the largest to date. The study included data from more than 100,000 participants.
Is it OK to consume artificial sweeteners?
When people try to cut sugar out of their diets, for reasons such as trying to lose weight or trying to control their blood sugar, they may turn to artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners have been around for more than 100 years. Saccharin, for example, which is found in the sugar substitute Sweet’N Low, was first discovered in 1879. Since then, researchers have discovered numerous other artificial sweeteners, including sucralose, aspartame, stevia, and xylitol.
There has almost always been controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners. As the Harvard School of Public Health notes, concerns include the development of type 2 diabetes and weight gain but the evidence is varied and inconclusive.
Despite the concerns, the Food and Drug Administration considers the approved sweeteners generally safe to use, as long as people do not exceed the acceptable daily intake for each type.
For example, with sucralose (which is found in Splenda), a 132-pound person could consume 23 packets before going over the recommended limit.