What is Erythritol?
Erythritol is a zero-calorie sugar substitute that has about 70% of the sweetness of table sugar. It is a sugar alcohol produced by yeast when fermenting glucose from corn and wheat starch. Unlike regular sugar, erythritol sweetener doesn’t raise blood sugar or contribute to tooth decay. Unlike other sugar substitutes, individuals can use powdered erythritol volume-for-volume when replacing sugar. It also does not affect texture when used for baking.
What are Sugar Alcohols?
As the name suggests, sugar alcohols are sugar derivatives. They activate the tongue receptors that detect sweetness without the calorie load and blood sugar spike associated with table sugar. The gut doesn’t have the enzymes needed to break down sugar alcohols like erythritol, so it excretes them without absorbing them.
Erythritol vs. Stevia
Erythritol comes from fermented sugar, whereas stevia extract comes from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. Stevia extracts with rebaudioside A steviol glycosides are about 240 times sweeter than sugar, whereas stevioside steviol glycoside extracts are around 140 times sweeter. Erythritol has roughly 70% of the sweetness of sugar, which allows for easier one-for-one substitution in foods and beverages. Both are non-nutritive sugar substitutes and do not raise blood sugar.
Is Erythritol Keto?
Erythritol is a good keto sweetener. It has nearly zero calories, a glycemic index of zero, and is easier to tolerate than some of the other sugar alcohols. Other zero-calorie keto sweeteners include stevia and monk fruit.
Potential Erythritol Benefits
Erythritol Sweetener and Weight Loss
Erythritol may support weight loss efforts when used as a sugar substitute. It can help significantly decrease the number of calories consumed throughout the day, as a gram of erythritol only has 0.24 calories compared to four calories per gram of sugar. For example, an eight-ounce cup of sweet tea has around 22g of sugar, for a total of 88 calories. The same amount of erythritol is barely more than five calories. Research shows erythritol may reduce appetite and food intake by interacting with hormones that dictate eating behaviors. Cholecystokinin (CKK) hormones help individuals feel sated and full to reduce food intake, whereas ghrelin hormones promote feelings of hunger and increase food intake. Erythritol elevates CCK levels and proved more effective at lowering ghrelin than aspartame sweeteners.
Erythritol Sweetener and Blood Sugar
Erythritol sweetener doesn’t affect blood sugar as standard table sugar does. It’s a good sugar substitute for individuals monitoring their blood glucose levels. Animal studies also note that erythritol actively inhibits increases in blood sugar and insulin.
Erythritol Sweetener and Heart Health
Erythritol may support heart health by acting as an antioxidant and improving blood vessel function. An animal study found that erythritol’s antioxidant properties helped protect blood vessels from damage due to high blood sugar. A human trial similarly noted that participants taking erythritol for a month experienced improvements in their blood vessel functions.
Erythritol Sweetener and Dental Health
Consuming too much sugar can wreak havoc on dental health. Harmful bacteria in the mouth use sugar for energy, resulting in cavities and tooth decay. Research shows that erythritol can suppress bacteria growth and protect against dental plaque and cavities better than other sugar substitutes like xylitol and sorbitol. Unsurprisingly, many products for oral hygiene use erythritol as a sweet flavoring agent.
Potential Erythritol Side Effects
The body can’t digest sugar alcohols, and most end up in the colon. Once there, they react with bacteria, which sometimes causes bloating and gas. Erythritol is unlike other sugar alcohols. The body excretes the majority of erythritol through the urine before it reaches the colon. Small amounts sometimes enter the colon, but erythritol is resistant to the bacteria there. It is significantly less likely to cause digestive upset compared to other sugar alcohols. Consuming excessive amounts may cause nausea.
Is Erythritol Bad for You?
Erythritol is one of the newer sugar alcohols, but research shows it has an excellent safety profile. The food and beverage industries have used erythritol sweeteners since 1990, and more than 60 countries have approved it for safe use.
What is the Best Sugar Substitute?
Individual taste is the most common factor when determining the best sugar substitute. Sugar substitutes vary in sweetness and flavor. Some are also zero-calorie sweeteners, while others are low-calorie sweeteners. PureBulk carries the following sugar substitutes in addition to erythritol:
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