A study published in the BMJ has found a connection between consuming artificial sweeteners and an increased risk of heart disease, concluding that they “should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar”.
The research was conducted at the Sorbonne Paris Nord University with 103,000 French adults of average age 42, 80% of whom were women. They noted everything they ate, including artificial sweeteners, over repeated 24 hour periods. They followed up over 10 years and recorded cardiovascular events including heart attacks, strokes, mini strokes, and angina.
They found that total artificial sweetener intake was associated with a 9% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but with an 18% increased risk of cerebrovascular disease (affecting blood flow to the brain). They found specifically that aspartame led to a 17% increased risk of cerebrovascular events, while acesulfame potassium and sucralose were connected to a higher risk of coronary heart disease.
Besides heart disease, there have been other animal studies that have linked artificial sweeteners with weight gain, brain tumors, and cancer. It’s a good idea to keep your use of added sweeteners to a minimum and to use natural options instead of artificial ones. These include stevia, sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol, monk fruit, dates, fruit purees like applesauce or mashed bananas, maple syrup, molasses, and honey.