A certain type of artificial sweetener may do more than just help people lose weight, which was known to be its primary purpose. A study that was reported at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA) indicates that the sweetener has the potential for use in the lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The study was conducted by researchers from China, among them Dr. Dan Qu of the Changhai Hospital in Shanghai and focused on a sugar substitute called oligofructose or OFS. Its primary use is as a substitute for fat or sugar in order to reduce calorie content of foods such as ice cream and pastries. According to the Food and Drug Administration, OFS has 30 to 50% of the sweetness of table sugar.
Data was gathered from 96 adult test subjects between the ages of 32 to 63 who have pre-hypertension. The condition basically refers to having mild or borderline hypertension and may be a flag indicating the tendency to develop high blood pressure in the future. Blood pressure readings for this demographic consist of systolic readings of 120 to 139 and diastolic readings of 80 to 89.
The test subjects were divided into those who were given 20 grams of OFS and those who were only given placebo for a period of 12 weeks. After the period, those who were given OFS had an average drop of 6.9 points in their systolic blood pressure compared to only 3.5 points among those who only took placebo. For the diastolic readings, those who were given OFS dropped an average of 7.3 points compared to only 2.3 among those who were only given placebo.
A decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglyceride levels were also observed, more for those who were taking OFS than those who were not.
The results of this study can be a stepping stone towards further research regarding the use of OFS for blood pressure reduction in supplement form.