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Is erythritol harmful? What a dietitian says new data means for your Keto diet

Is erythritol harmful? What a dietitian says new data means for your Keto diet

While sugar substitutes have been around for over a century, they didn’t become mainstream here in the United States until the mid-70s. According to Carolyn De La Pena, professor of American Studies at UC Davis and author Empty pleasures: the story of artificial sweeteners from saccharine to splendor, between 1975 and 1984, Americans increased their consumption of artificial sweeteners by 150 percent. This time frame makes sense when you consider that the late seventies coincided with the beginning of our crazy food culture and the revolving door of fad diets.

One such diet that seems to be going nowhere is the keto diet. Still extremely popular among Americans trying to shed a few pounds, Keto focuses heavily on limited or no carbohydrates. Since sugar contains carbohydrates, Keto followers have turned to artificial sweeteners to satisfy those late-night cravings—sweeteners that, more often than not, contain erythritol. Erythritol in particular has become extremely popular because it is much better for baking than other sugar substitutes, has less artificial flavoring, and will keep the eater in ketosis, which is key to weight loss on the keto diet.

A new study recently made waves because its findings showed a link between erythritol and higher rates of heart attack and stroke (although the study noted that it only found an association — not causation. So should you be worried?

We asked Dan LeMoine, RD, award-winning author Don’t be afraid of food and clinical director in Phoenix Re:vitalize nutrition, what he had to say about erythritol, including its benefits and potential health risks. “Artificial sweeteners are still sweeteners. Although many are non-nutritive or have no calories, we view them similarly to regular sweeteners or sugars – moderation is key. While many have amazing weight loss implications – low or no calorie options and have little impact on blood sugar, some have their downsides.,” He says.

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While some of that sugar replacement has been good for waistlines and obesity-related health problems, it seems to be causing increasing concern when it comes to other potential health problems. “For example,” says LeMoine, “some research shows that the popular sweetener stevia can have negative effects on the gut microbiome. And a recent study showing a correlation between sugar alcohols, erythritol and heart attack and stroke.”

Of course, as with most things, moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. “If you enjoy erythritol ‘once in a while’ and you don’t have any underlying conditions, then you’re probably fine to continue using erythritol to satisfy your sweet tooth from time to time,” says LeMoine. “If, on the other hand, you have a history of blood clots or stroke and use erythritol daily, it might not be a bad idea to find an alternative because a study showed an increase in the potential risk of blood clots among those who had high levels of erythritol in their blood. .”

Of course, cravings are often our body’s way of telling us that we’re lacking a certain mineral or micronutrient. When we find ourselves craving sugar, it may mean our bodies need micronutrients like chromium, tryptophan or phosphorus. Of course, they can be found in natural ingredients such as fatty fish, eggs, sweet potatoes, broccoli or grapes. If we regularly eat a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet, frequent sugar cravings should decrease.

At the end of the day, though, we’re human and cravings for sweet, delicious, sugary sweet treats are real—especially when you’re on a strict diet like keto. LeMoine wisely advises, “When it comes to sweeteners of any kind (artificial or not), our party line tends to be, ‘Treat treats like treats.'” Which, of course, means it’s perfectly fine to indulge once in a while. . , but for the most part, kick that sugar craving by going to the fruit bowl, not the candy or, in this case, the “sugar-free” aisle.

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