Be it chewing gum, mint or toothpaste… you should also read this report on things containing artificial sweeteners

Ananya Shroff
5 Min Read

New Delhi: Sugar-free chewing gum, mints and even toothpaste. All these things contain sweetness. But do you have any idea how much bitterness this sweetness can bring into your life? A study published in the European Heart Journal suggests that xylitol, which is used in place of sugar for so much sweetness, can increase the risk of serious heart diseases like heart attack and stroke. According to doctors in the capital Delhi, the findings of the study are extremely worrying. They said that xylitol has the potential to increase the risk of heart disease and platelet reactivity and blood thickening. They said that this can have a great impact on patients with heart diseases.

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What is xylitol, know here

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in various fruits and vegetables. Its use has grown rapidly in the last decade. Its chemical structure is similar to that of sugar, but it contains fewer calories. This is why it is very popular among health conscious people. Xylitol is also used in less sweet bakery items.

What are experts saying on the study report?

Dr. Nityanand Tripathi, Head of Department of Cardiology and Electrophysiology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, says, 'Xylitol is often promoted as a safe alternative to sugar, but the study report clearly shows that caution should be exercised. Especially people at risk of heart diseases need to be careful immediately.' He said that more research is needed to fully understand its mechanism and establish clear guidelines for its consumption.

Dr Amar Singhal, Director, Interventional Cardiologist, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute said, “Excessive consumption of xylitol can lead to a state of hypercoagulability, in which the blood has an increased tendency to form clots. This is due to xylitol's ability to increase platelet activity and aggregation. Platelets are small blood cells that play a key role in the blood clotting process.” He further added, “The increased platelet response due to xylitol can lead to the formation of clots within the blood vessels. These clots have the potential to obstruct blood flow in both arteries and veins, leading to serious cardiac events.”

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Xylitol is a major cause of clotting

A study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic in the US shows that the incidence of clotting increases immediately after consuming xylitol-sweetened drinks, but not with glucose-sweetened drinks. Explaining this difference, Dr AK Sahni, director and head of neurology at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, said, “This is due to a specific metabolic pathway of xylitol, which affects platelet function and vascular reactivity differently.”

Dr Bharat Kukreti, director and unit head of cardiology at Paras Health Hospital, Gurugram, said natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and fruits should be used in limited quantities. “Patients, especially those with cardiovascular risk factors, should be cautious about artificial sugar substitutes and prioritise a balanced diet. Xylitol is used in very small quantities for products like toothpaste and gum which may be safe,” he said.

Using natural ingredients instead of artificial ones can have many benefits. Professor Vinay Goyal, chairman of neurology at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram, said, “Fennel is a great healthy option. By making such a change, you can improve your overall health.” The same research team found a similar link between erythritol and cardiovascular risk last year. The researchers said that xylitol is not as popular as erythritol in keto or sugar-free food products in the US, but is common in other countries.

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