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Eat Sweets Without the Downsides: The Joy of Erythritol

You heard it right. It is possible to get a safe sweetener that really tastes good, has no calories,  and scores low on the glycemic index. It’s the magic of erythritol and it may just be the sweet miracle you’ve been looking for.

Zero Calories—Yes, Zero 
Erythritol is a zero-calorie sweetener that has only begun to grow in popularity recently, although it has been on the market since the early 1990s. Similar to other sugar alcohols, erythritol is manufactured through the fermentation of...

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You heard it right. It is possible to get a safe sweetener that really tastes good, has no calories,  and scores low on the glycemic index. It’s the magic of erythritol and it may just be the sweet miracle you’ve been looking for.

Zero Calories—Yes, Zero 
Erythritol is a zero-calorie sweetener that has only begun to grow in popularity recently, although it has been on the market since the early 1990s. Similar to other sugar alcohols, erythritol is manufactured through the fermentation of glucose and can be found in fermented products such as wine, sake, and soy sauce. It comes powdered and granulated which is perfect for…wait for it…baked goods!

Tastes like Sugar with Little-to-No Aftertaste
Erythritol is not quite as sweet as sugar, but it can still be used the same way and is perfect for baked goods. Happily, it does not leave any trace of an unpleasant aftertaste, although a slight “cooling sensation” is noticed by some. At least 2 scientific studies have shown that substituting erythritol for sugar when baking causes no change in the texture, volume, or moisture content of the batter or the baked good.1,2  Bakers, start your ovens!

Low Glycemic Score 
Erythritol is a wonderful alternative to sugar because it scores very low on the glycemic index, which means your body shouldn’t give you a dramatic rise in blood glucose. The glycemic index is a measurement of the speed at which blood glucose levels rise. Note that with the exception of stevia, erythritol scores very low.5

Glucose or Maltodextrin (Sugar) - 110
Sucrose (Sugar) - 65
Honey (Natural Sugar) - 50
Cane Juice (Sugar Extract) - 43
Fructose (Sugar) - 25
Agave Syrup (Modified Sugar) - 15
Xylitol (Sugar Alcohol) - 12
Erythritol (Sugar Alcohol) - 1
Stevia (Natural Sweetener) - 0

This is great news for people who have hypoglycemia or diabetes, but don’t really like the taste of stevia or get gastric discomfort from xylitol.

Happy Digestion
Fortunately, erythritol is not known to cause the gastrointestinal discomfort typically associated with other sugar alcohols because it is rapidly absorbed from the small intestine and not metabolized, which allows it to clear the body without contributing measurable calories.3,4

Sweet Tooth, Healthy Tooth
More good news: erythritol may reduce the risk of tooth decay when used as a substitute for sugar, and may even be superior to both xylitol and sorbitol in this regard. A recent study reported a significant reduction in dental plaque and harmful bacteria in 7- and 8-year-olds who consumed erythritol candies for 3 years, compared to children who consumed xylitol, sorbitol, or sucrose.6
 
Safe for Dogs
Dog lovers will be pleased to learn that studies have shown erythritol is safe for dogs, unlike xylitol.7 So go ahead and let your furry friend gobble down that chunk of erythritol-containing muffin you just dropped! You can have another 1, or 2, or 3. Just be sure to share your recipe with us!

Notes
1. Lin, S.-D., Lee, C.-C., Mau, J.-L., Lin, L.-Y. & Chiou, S.-Y. Effect of Erythritol on Quality Characteristics of Reduced-Calorie Danish Cookies. J. Food Qual. 33, 14–26 (2010).
2. Lin, S. D., Hwang, C. F. & Yeh, C. H. Physical and sensory characteristics of chiffon cake prepared with erythritol as replacement for sucrose. J. Food Sci. 68, 2107–2110 (2003).
3. J. A. Eastwood and E. J. Vavasour. Saftey Evaluation of Certain Food Additives and Contaminants. (2000). at
4.  Munro, I. C. et al. Erythritol: an interpretive summary of biochemical, metabolic, toxicological and clinical data. Food Chem. Toxicol.  36, 1139–1174 (1998).
5. Sugar-and-sweetener-guide.com. Glycemic Index Chart
6. Runnel, R. et al. Effect of three-year consumption of erythritol, xylitol and sorbitol candies on various plaque and salivary caries-related variables. J. Dent. 41, (2013).
7. Dean, I., Jackson, F. & Greenough, R. J. Chronic (1-year) oral toxicity study of erythritol in dogs. Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 24, S254–S260 (1996).

 

 

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