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Diet Soda Dilemma: Artificial Sweeteners May Increase Your Stroke Risk

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We know the added sugars found in sodas and sweet treats are bad for our health. But what about the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas and other foods? You might think they’re healthier alternatives. However, studies have linked artificial sweeteners like saccharine and aspartame to serious health problems like dementia and type 2 diabetes.

A more recent study done as part of the Women’s Health Initiative, which examined causes of illness and death in postmenopausal women, found another artificial sweetener risk.

This study focused on post-menopausal women ages 50-79 — with no history of diabetes or heart disease — who drank two or more artificially sweetened, 12-ounce beverages per day. Study results showed that these women increased their risk of ischemic or clot-based stroke by as much as 31% compared to women who drank less than one artificially sweetened beverage per week.

Artificial Sweeteners and Stroke Risk

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Learn more about stroke symptoms and how to respond.

In the video below, cardiologist Brandy Patterson, MD, discusses the study findings and her recommendations for limiting artificial sweeteners and drinking healthier. They include:

  1. Try adding fresh fruit to a glass of ice water.
  2. Opt for sparkling water with zero sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  3. Add lemon or mint to unsweetened iced green or black tea for a boost of flavor.
  4. Don’t trade diet beverages for regular sodas; they’re loaded with unhealthy sugars and corn syrup.

“This particular study included post-menopausal women only,” says Patterson. “However, I believe there is enough evidence from this and previous studies to conclude that consuming more than two artificially sweetened beverages per day is not a healthy option for anyone.”

View diet soda and stroke video transcript.

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