At Curly Girlz Candy we make your health and safety a top priority. Our blend, Sweet Success™ is a mix of Allulose, Erythritol, and Stevia, with Allulose making up the main sweetening agent. By now you’ve undoubtably seen the headline that erythritol is causing clots, heart attacks and strokes. The main stream media has taken a very small study and ran with the headline that consuming erythritol is unhealthy. But is this actually the case?
What is erythritol? Erythritol occurs naturally in some foods. It's also made when things like wine, beer, and cheese ferment. It is produced naturally in our bodies, as well. It is considered a sugar alcohol (like xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol) but does not have the bloating effect that other sugar alcohols have. It is also zero calorie and doesn’t raise glucose levels in humans.
The Study. An alarm was raised when in a recent study, The Cleveland Clinic studied around 4,000 people in the United States and Europe to find those with higher blood erythritol levels had an elevated risk for a major adverse cardiac event, including heart attack, stroke, or death. The study deduced that elevated levels of polyols (sugar alcohols) were associated with an increased three-year risk of major adverse cardiovascular events, defined as nonfatal myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, or cardiovascular death.
All of this information sounds frightening and makes you wonder if anything with erythritol is safe. However, according to Dr. Jayne Morgan, cardiologist and clinical director of the COVID Task Force at the Piedmont Hospital/Healthcare in Atlanta, noted that although the study did draw a correlation between erythritol levels and poor cardiovascular outcomes, this is “not the same thing as a cause and effect. It’s important to note that this was a clinical observation study that could not establish causation.” Oliver Jones, a professor of chemistry at RMIT University in Victoria, Australia, explained “As the authors themselves note, they found an association between erythritol and clotting risk, not definitive proof such a link exists,” Jones, continued saying, “Any possible (and, as yet unproven) risks of excess erythritol would also need to be balanced against the very real health risks of excess glucose consumption,” Jones said.
Another thing noted were the volunteers being tested. Participants were far from healthy. According to the study, they were on average between 63 and 75 years of age, overweight, had high blood pressure, over 20% had diabetes, over 13% smoked, and over 70% had existing cardiovascular problems. Every one of these factors carries a significant and increased risk for of major adverse cardiovascular event, above and beyond any erythritol connection.
Others have said an argument could be made that people who ingest many highly processed foods tend to have overall unhealthy lifestyles, including poor diet and lack of exercise, which may be linked to the increase in adverse outcomes. The Mayo Clinic even states health agencies have clarified that sugar substitutes do not cause serious health problems. Some research on long-term, daily use of artificial sweeteners suggests a link to a higher risk of stroke, heart disease and death overall. But that is mostly influences by the other things people do, or rather, do not do, that may be the cause of the higher risk.
Erythritol is generally considered safe (GRAS) for human consumption by both the FDA and European Union. It is found to be better and with fewer concerns than sorbitol, maltitol, and xylitol, especially within the digestive track. Until there is further concrete evidence that erythritol is causing these issues, we will continue to use it, in small amounts, in our candies.
An interesting note in this small study is that the test subjects were given 30g of straight erythritol (sugar alcohol) as a serving. At Curly Girlz Candy, we have between 1g and 3g of erythritol (sugar alcohol) per serving which is considerably less than most other brands and sugar-free items on the market, making our candies safe to enjoy by a wide range of consumers.