We can basically sum up the modern health crisis in one phrase: synthetic is never as good as the real thing. And that goes for the “problematic” foods, too. If you’re going to indulge in something sugary, eat real sugar — don’t pump your body full of artificial anything and assume you are somehow outsmarting nature.
The evidence in opposition to artificial sweeteners is mounting, but a massive study involving 100,000 French citizens that spanned more than a decade may be the nail in the coffin.
By study’s end, the researchers learned that participants who ate or drank higher levels of artificial sweeteners experienced cardiovascular disease events at a higher rate than participants who stuck to real sugar. Stoke is also considered a cardiovascular risk for consuming artificial sweeteners.
It’s no surprise that people assume that artificial sweeteners are the way to go, considering the (rightly) negative press associated with sugar intake. Real sugar is certainly a health risk, considering the stress it puts on the liver and the weight gain it causes. But saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, stevia, and xylitol (the most common sweeteners found in “diet” drinks), ironically carry many of the same risks as sugar but with the added chemical stress on the heart.
In addition to cardiovascular disease, artificial sweeteners also lead to diabetes and hypertension
“Our results indicate that these food additives, consumed daily by millions of people and present in thousands of foods and beverages, should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar, in line with the current position of several health agencies,” the study authors wrote. “Aspartame intake was associated with increased risk of cerebrovascular events, and acesulfame potassium and sucralose were associated with increased coronary heart disease risk.”
Another common problem with consuming foods that contain artificial sweeteners is that those foods are typically processed. After all, nobody is just emptying Sweet N’ Low packets into their mouths — they are trying to sweeten foods. So it’s not a big stretch to assume that anything which contains artificial sweeteners is probably “bad” for you, already, to some extent.
Dr. Vicken Zeitjian, a cardiologist at the University of Texas, said the findings are not surprising.
“The link between artificial sweeteners and coronary artery disease/stroke is not surprising given the fact that artificial sweeteners are associated with diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and obesity,” said Dr. Zeitjian. “It does give us insight that artificial sweeteners may be implicated in coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease.”