The Daily Valet. - 6/7/24, Friday

Friday, June 7th Edition
Cory Ohlendorf  
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
Personally, I'm more of a stevia man when it comes to sweeteners.

Today’s Big Story

Not So Sweet


A common sugar substitute has been linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke


All good deeds, as the say … You think you’re doing your body a favor by cutting back on sugar, but the safety of sugar substitutes is once again being called into question.

The popular sugar substitute xylitol, commonly used by those wanting to lose weight or who are diabetic, is associated with an increased risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack and stroke, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal on Thursday.

What is xylitol, exactly? The sugar alcohol is found in small amounts in fruits and vegetables, and the human body also produces it. As an additive, it looks and tastes like sugar but has 40% fewer calories. It’s used, at much higher concentrations than found in nature, in sugar-free gum, candies, toothpaste and baked goods. It can also be found in products labeled “keto-friendly,” particularly in Europe.

The same Cleveland Clinic research team found a similar association last year to another popular sugar substitute, erythritol. But the use of sugar substitutes has increased significantly over the past decade as concerns about rising obesity rates mount.

According to NBC News, many heart attacks and strokes occur in people who do not have known risk factors, like diabetes, high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels. The research team began studying sugar alcohols found naturally in the human body to see if the compounds might predict cardiovascular risk in these people. They found that xylitol seemed to activate platelets, which are the blood component that controls clotting. And blood clots are the leading cause of heart attack and stroke. Of course, these are early findings and much more research needs to be done, the team said. In the meantime, the doctors behind the study are telling patients worried about their risk to avoid eating xylitol and other sugar alcohols, whose spelling all end in ‘itol.’

Big Business:
Some $1.19 billion in xylitol products were sold in 2021.

No AC for the Olympians?


Some delegations feel uneasy about relying on a more sustainable French geothermal cooling system

Paris is hosting the Summer Olympic Games 21 years after a deadly heat wave during the same days when catastrophe struck the city in 2003. Continued global warming has only increased the odds of a heat wave at the Games, where the athletes village won’t have air conditioning. A lot of national teams aren’t cool with that.

The International Olympic Committee has vowed that Paris will mark the most sustainable Games yet, outlining a multiprong plan to “halve the Games-related carbon footprint compared to previous Games.” This has included setting up a water-based cooling system in the Olympic Village rather than air conditioners, which will ensure the site has a 30% lower carbon footprint than a traditional construction project. But that might be wishful thinking.

Because there are already reports that portable air-conditioning units will be everywhere. Wheeled in. Shipped in. Ordered by visiting countries that want their athletes to sleep well and perform at the highest level—even if it means a larger carbon footprint. The Australian Olympic Committee just announced plans to install air conditioners in all of its athletes' rooms. Anna Meares, the leader of the country's delegation, told The Guardian it’s “strategic for high performance” and is meant to help their sleep.

Organizers just unveiled the iconic Olympic rings mounted on the Eiffel Tower.

Boeing Starliner’s Crew Is Now on the Space Station


It was delayed by last-minute thruster trouble that almost derailed the mission

Boeing’s Starliner capsule, carrying a pair of NASA astronauts, docked with the International Space Station on Thursday, completing the first leg of an important test flight after several of its thrusters went offline, forcing a dramatic, last-minute scramble to troubleshoot the issue. This is the first time astronauts have arrived at the space station via a Boeing Starliner spacecraft and the malfuction almost derailed the mission.

“The team handled the pop quiz really well,” Steve Stich, the manager of NASA’s commercial crew program, said during a news conference Thursday after the docking. “And they got all the answers right.” The two astronauts, Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, will spend at least a week at the space station. NASA has said the astronauts could return to Earth in the Starliner capsule on June 14, but the landing date could change as the mission progresses.

As you might remember, NASA hired Boeing, along with SpaceX, to build replacements for its retired space shuttles. SpaceX succeeded in flying astronauts to the space station in 2020, while Boeing experienced costly technical problems and delays. Now, the efforts are close to paying off. A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule docked at a different port at the space station. “When Starliner is certified, the United States will have two unique human transportation systems for I.S.S.” Jim Free, NASA’s associate administrator, told the New York Times. “And no other country in the world has that.”

With their arrival, there are now nine people working and living on the I.S.S.

Bubble-Free Booze on the Rise


Who let the fizz out?

I’ve got to say, I’m a little surprised by this news. Sparkling water has never been more popular (and it paved the way for the hard-seltzer boom a few years ago), right? But, as annual soda consumption has steadily declined from its 1998 peak of around 54 gallons per person, it was bound to happen. By 2016, Americans drank more bottled water than soda, and reaching for flavored waters like Vitaminwater, Propel and Hint Water.

Kids in the 2010s, who are now coming of legal drinking age, grew up with flavored waters as the norm. Generation Z is simply not as conditioned to carbonation. VinePair says young people want to drink, just not the fizzy stuff. They point to the popularity of NOCA, a portmanteau of non-carbonated, which is selling like crazy these days.

Molson Coors Beverage Company recently conducted research on of-age Gen Z drinkers, the company discovered that “bloating or feeling full was a real pain point,” says Amanda DeVore, the senior director marketing innovation for Molson Coors. “There’s a real desire for drinks without carbonation.” The company is now exploring refreshing, fruity beverages—a growing trend at Dunkin’ and Starbucks—and just introduced Happy Thursday, which is basically like boozy lemonade. And that doesn’t sound too bad.

A Weekend Pairing


‘Hit Man’ + an Undercover Agent Cocktail


After a brief stint in theaters, Richard Linklater’s new comedy, Hitman, is hitting Netflix. Starring, and co-written by, Glen Powell, the film tells a loosely true story about Gary Johnson, a mild mannered psychology professor moonlighting as a fake hit man for the police department whose life unravels when he crosses paths with a woman named Madison (played by Adria Arjona).

Critics seem to love it. The movie has a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The AV Club says the comedy-noir is full of “killer chemistry and existential examination,” while NPR says that it sounds whacky but the story stays grounded by avoiding a few present-day pop culture clichés. Of course Rolling Stone doled out the real praise, calling Powell the 21st century’s Cary Grant.

Pair It With


This shape-shifting drink is the perfect pairing for this film. It tastes like a margarita, or even a mojito, but it reminds you of a julep. The blood orange shrub settles in the drink so it comes along in full force at the end to surprise you.

Also Worth a Watch:
'Marlon Wayans: Good Grief’ on Prime Video; ‘Becoming Karl Lagerfeld’ on Hulu


What We’re Buying


A NATO strap


When the sun is sweltering during the warmest days of the year, we'll do about anything to shed weight and keep cool. And while we're losing layers, we're also adding a little more color to everything, right? So it only makes sense that we apply this logic to our timepieces, too. Summer is the perfect season for the NATO strap—the quickest upgrade to loop in and out colors based on your mood.

Our Pick:
Sambolo strap, $30 at Hodinkee Shop

Morning Motto

Celebrate how far you’ve come.


Sometimes you're so focused on the future that you don't realise you're in the middle of what you used to pray for.




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