Bad news for all of us using artificial sweeteners to try and keep the pounds off. Artificial sweeteners are present in thousands of food and beverage brands worldwide, however, they remain a controversial topic and are currently being re-evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority, and the World Health Organization. FDA states ” Based on the available scientific evidence, the agency has concluded that the high-intensity sweeteners approved by FDA are safe for the general population under certain conditions of use.” But they do not go on to specify ‘certain conditions of use. “For each of these sweeteners, FDA determined that the estimated daily intake even for a high consumer of the substance would not exceed the acceptable daily intake (ADI). Generally, an additive does not present safety concerns if the estimated daily intake is less than the ADI. That word ‘generally’ to me is worrisome. Same as used in regards GMO foods.

WHO recommends that less than 5% of daily energy intake should come from free sugar.

There have been many investigational experiments both in the laboratory and prospective observed patient on studies so I’m even human randomized controlled studies to investigate early markers of cardiovascular health for example wade hypertension inflation gut microbes but many also in association with using artificial sweeteners or artificial sweetener beverages most of these studies have suggested adverse effects. Artificial sweeteners are not good for cardiovascular or cerebrovascular health. The leading cause of death worldwide is cardiovascular disease. And this study below in-depth should put to rest the controversies. Now if only the FDA and world health in the EU food safety authority will take a position to caution the public on the use of these high sugar additives.

The WHO 2022 report on the health effects of artificial sweeteners observed ” an association between consumption of beverages with artificial sweeteners (used as a proxy) and some intermediate markers of CVD, including a modest increase in the unfavourable total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio (meta-analysis of four randomized control trials), and an increased risk of hypertension (meta-analysis of four prospective studies)”.

In a prospective study, carried out in France, the records of 100,000 people focused on diet and activity and do use of artificial sweeteners. The British Medical Journal looked at dietary artificial sweeteners to see if it was a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (heart and brain). Artificial sweeteners they included were: aspartame (NutraSweet™, Equal®, and in UK Canderel®), acesulfame potassium (Ace K trade names Sunett and Sweet in EU), and sucralose (aka Splenda®). Analyzing 900,000 person-years of data (2009-2021) revealed a distinct association between the two. Researchers actually took food additive composition data and matched with consumption date to account for possible industrial reformulations and changes in the additive composition. The mg/day for each participant was measured.  The patient population included diverse breakdown however none were obese average BMI was 23.6. Varying cholesterol and glucose levels, hypertension, education level, also smokers and non-smokers were included.

Noteworthy is that the risk was greater for cerebral vascular disease (brain vessel disease). Further, the study found that not all artificial sweeteners were equally harmful, that specifically, aspartame use increased the likelihood of cerebral vascular events (ex. strokes, TIAs). Acesulfame K and sucralose were associated with increased coronary heart disease risk.

FYI: there are other sugar substitutes that are not in the high-intensity sugar substitutes. They are ‘sugar alcohols’ and include sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, mannitol, erythritol, and maltitol. The sweetness of sugar alcohol varies greatly but they are low in calories and do not cause your teeth to rot, or pounds to be upped, and blood sugar rush. Look for them to be in sugar-free candies, cookies, and chewing gums.