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  • Writer's pictureBeth Kitchin PhD RDN

You Asked, I Answered: Good Day Alabama Viewers' Questions for Dr. Beth K

I got some great questions from viewers last week and I’d like to share the answers this week:

“I'm diabetic and heard that Stevia and Erythritol can cause heart attacks and strokes. Is this information valid?”

The study that scared everyone about erythritol was an observational study. These types of studies cannot show cause and effect - only that two things may be related. It could be that the heart attack or stroke led to the increase in erythritol. So, I think the jury is still out on this one, but the increased clotting risk the researchers found does concern me. To be on the safe side, I would choose other low-cal sweeteners until more studies clarify this. Here is a really good article from Time magazine that puts this study and its results in perspective:

Stevia – the sweetener that comes from a plant - seems pretty safe so far. But some stevia products like Truvia may contain erythritol as well. So, if you use stevia, look for one that doesn't have erythritol in it. The FDA approved only the purified form of Stevia, called stevioside, as safe to use. So, look for products that say "stevia extract" or "stevia rebaudiana". Avoid whole stevia leaves or crude stevia extracts at your local natural foods store. We don't yet know enough about them to know if they cause any health problems.

“Saw your segment on Fox 6 news this morning but I have another question about tomatoes. I have heard that people with arthritis should not eat tomatoes because it can make it worse. Is this true?”

Tomatoes and other “nightshade” vegetables like eggplant and potatoes contain solanine which might increase inflammation. But the amounts are low and probably are not enough to be a problem. However, researchers need to do more work in this area so that people with arthritis can get more precise advice on whether to decrease certain foods in the diet.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends this self-experiment: If you think one of the nightshade vegetables is giving you problems, stop eating it for two weeks. After two weeks, add it back to a meal. If you have a flare, then you might be sensitive to that food. Only eliminate one food at a time to you can zero in on what food could be causing symptoms.

Here is a great article on arthritis, foods, and inflammation.

Keep those questions coming viewers and readers. Please put any questions or comments in the chat box!

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