May 01, 2021

Artificial sweeteners offer little benefit to heart health

Artificial sweeteners can offer a concentrated jolt of sweetness while adding virtually no calories — and no nutritional value — to your diet. They're widely used in processed foods, including diet soft drinks, to keep calories low.

But the lack of calories does not lead to better heart health, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers surveyed about 105,000 adults over 10 years. At check-ins twice a year, participants recorded their diets, levels of physical activity and any health issues. Over a decade, researchers found that people who regularly drank soda with artificial sweeteners — the no-calorie option — carried about the same risk of cardiovascular disease events, such as heart attack or stroke, as those who drank regular soda. Those drinking neither type of soda had a roughly 25% reduced risk of cardiovascular events.

Mayo Clinic experts say that the study's results suggest another reason to limit or entirely cut out soda and other sweetened or artificially sweetened drinks. If you regularly drink sugar-sweetened beverages, you might consider using artificially sweetened beverages as a temporary steppingstone to a full switch to water. There's no question that water is beneficial for your body. Plain water is ideal, but carbonated water can give you the refreshing zip of a soda. Just make sure it doesn't have any unhealthy added ingredients.