Sugar Substitutes and Stroke Risk

Sugar Substitutes and Stroke Risk

To decrease the amount of sugar in your diet, you may be tempted to reach for diet soft drinks or juices sweetened with sugar substitutes. Sugar substitutes are a confusing topic for many. For years it seemed that they received nothing but negative publicity. Recently, research reported they may not be as bad as we once thought. This leaves research relatively inconclusive at best. However, concern is once again growing.


Latest research demonstrates concern regarding  artificial sweetener consumption


Although they may seem like a good alternative to sugar-filled drinks, recent studies have discovered that there may be a link between artificial sweeteners and health risks including stroke.


Over 81,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 participated in the study. The conclusion drawn by researchers was that  artificially sweetened drinks are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and even death.


Those who drank two or more diet drinks a day had a 23% increase of stroke risk compared to those who consumed less than one diet drink per week. 1


Sugar consumption alters taste


No matter if you choose real sugar, or an artificial or plant based substitute, the brain wants more sweet substances the more you consume.


Artificial sweeteners even alter our gut bacteria. Sugar, in general, also increases blood sugar and insulin levels.


All of these factors combined lead to excessive weight gain, including fat, and also inflammation.


The danger of consuming artificial sweeteners for many lies in the increase of sweet cravings it causes. Artificial sweeteners are designed to taste sweeter than real sugar. This causes your taste buds to crave and expect more sweet foods.


Decreasing sugar in diet


To determine whether or not you are consuming too much sugar, try eating some fruits such as strawberries and apples. If you notice that these fruits do not taste sweet to you, this could be an indication that you should decrease the amount of sugar in your diet.


With some small changes, you can greatly reduce sugar intake. Begin by removing any added table sugar, honey, syrup or molasses. Natural sugar substitutes such as unsweetened applesauce or spices like cinnamon and allspice are great baking substitutes. Also, cut back on your serving size when you do indulge in sugary treats and check food labels for treats with less added sugar when possible.


Making dietary changes always seems overwhelming at first. However, with practice, anything can become a natural part of your lifestyle. If you have questions about ways to consume a healthier diet, make an appointment with a CCMH provider. Visit our online directory to discover how to reach them by visiting




Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani , Victor Kamensky , JoAnn E. Manson , Brian Silver , Stephen R. Rapp ,et al. American Stroke Association. Artificially Sweetened Beverages and Stroke, Coronary Heart Disease, and All-Cause Mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative. 1 Mar. 2019.




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