Artificially-sweetened beverages may be tasty for the palate but the heart may be suffering from the consequences. Recent research showed that these drinks may not be a healthy substitute after all.

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology revealed that sugary drinks, along with artificially sweetened beverages may not be the healthy substitute that these drinks are touted to be. These drinks have a negative impact on the heart. Previously, they have been marketed as the healthier alternative, as they supposedly do not contain sugar, but the recent study proves otherwise.

Researchers looked at 104,760 participants to evaluate the relationship between consumption of both sugary drinks and artificially-sweetened ones, versus the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Researchers defined artificially sweetened beverages as those that contain non-nutritive sweeteners. Drinks that contained five percent or more sugar were classified as sugary drinks. Using the beverage classifications as the category, participants were further divided into three groups for every category. They were high-consumers, low-consumers, and non-consumers. The data used by researchers were from the French NutriNet-Sante cohort.

The participants were tasked to fill-out three web-based dietary records. These records were available 24 hours and were meant to be filled out every six months.

During the follow-up from 2009 to 2019, the researchers looked at the very first incidences of cardiovascular diseases. There were about five, which included acute coronary syndrome, angioplasty, stroke, myocardial infarction, and transient ischemic attack. Overall, they found that those deemed higher consumers of sugary drinks and also artificially sweetened beverages, were also the ones who showed higher incidences of cardiovascular diseases.

Aside from the health aspect, the lead author of the study pointed out regulatory implications. Eloi Chazelas, a member of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team said that their study suggests that these artificially sweetened beverages may not be a healthy replacement for the appealing sugary drinks. He further stated that their data provides more arguments concerning the debate on regulation, labelling, and taxes of artificially sweetened beverages.

Artificially-sweetened drinks and heart disease. Photo: Pixabay