Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol or polyol widely used as a low-calorie sweetener. It occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods, but the erythritol used in food products is typically manufactured. Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sucrose (table sugar) but contains significantly fewer calories. Unlike other sugar alcohols, it is almost completely absorbed by the body and excreted unchanged in the urine, which contributes to its excellent digestive tolerance.
- Fermentation: The commercial production of erythritol is primarily through a fermentation process. The most common method uses a yeast-like fungus, Moniliella pollinis, which ferments glucose or cornstarch to produce erythritol. Glucose is typically derived from corn or wheat starch.
- Purification: After fermentation, the erythritol is purified. This involves filtering and centrifuging to remove impurities and concentrate the product. The solution is then crystallized to produce erythritol crystals.
- Drying and Milling: The crystals are dried and then ground into a fine powder, which can be used as a sweetener in various food products.
- Food and Beverages: Erythritol is used as a sugar substitute in a wide range of food and beverage products, including baked goods, candies, chewing gum, and beverages. It is particularly popular in low-calorie and sugar-free products.
- Dental Products: Due to its non-cariogenic nature, erythritol is used in oral care products like toothpaste and mouthwash. It does not contribute to tooth decay, making it a preferred sweetener in dental care products.
- Pharmaceuticals: Erythritol is used as an excipient in some pharmaceutical formulations for its stabilizing and sweetening properties.
- Cooking and Baking: Erythritol is heat stable, making it suitable for cooking and baking. It is often used in home kitchens as a sugar substitute in various recipes.
- Caloric Content: Erythritol contains only about 0.24 calories per gram, which is significantly lower than the 4 calories per gram in sugar. This makes it an attractive sweetener for weight management and diabetic diets.
- Glycemic Index: Erythritol has a glycemic index of zero, meaning it does not spike blood sugar levels. This makes it a safe alternative for people with diabetes.
- Digestive Tolerance: Erythritol is well-tolerated by most people. Unlike other sugar alcohols, it does not usually cause digestive issues like bloating and gas because it is absorbed into the bloodstream before it reaches the large intestine.
- Non-Cariogenic: Erythritol does not contribute to tooth decay, as oral bacteria cannot metabolize it to form acids that erode tooth enamel.
- General Sweetening: Erythritol is commonly used in home kitchens as a sugar substitute. It's particularly popular among those following low-carb, ketogenic, or calorie-controlled diets. Erythritol can be used in beverages like coffee and tea, as well as in homemade desserts and baked goods.
- Cooking and Baking: Due to its heat stability, erythritol is suitable for cooking and baking. It can replace sugar in recipes, although it may not provide the same level of browning or moisture. It's often used in combination with other ingredients to achieve a texture and taste closer to sugar.
- Preserving and Canning: Erythritol can be used in preserving fruits and making jams or jellies. It helps to retain the natural flavor of the fruits without adding extra calories.
Types of Erythritol Blends:
- Erythritol and Stevia: This blend combines the bulk and sugar-like quality of erythritol with the intense sweetness of stevia. It's often used to achieve a closer approximation to sugar's sweetness level without the aftertaste some people experience with stevia alone.
- Erythritol and Monk Fruit: Monk fruit, like stevia, is much sweeter than sugar. When combined with erythritol, it provides a balanced and natural-tasting sweetness. This blend is popular in keto and low-carb baking.
- Erythritol and Xylitol: This blend is often used in chewing gums and oral care products, as both erythritol and xylitol are non-cariogenic and can help prevent tooth decay.
- Hydration and Electrolyte Drinks: Erythritol is used in sports drinks for athletes who prefer a low-calorie option. It provides a sweet taste without affecting blood sugar levels, which is crucial for athletes managing their energy intake and output.
- Pre-Workout and Recovery Drinks: Some pre-workout and recovery drinks include erythritol as a sweetening agent. It's particularly favored in formulations designed to support low-carb or ketogenic diets.
- Energy Bars and Snacks: Erythritol is found in energy bars and snacks aimed at athletes who need low-sugar options. These products provide energy and nutrition without the spike in blood sugar that can come from high-sugar snacks.
- Weight Management: Athletes focusing on weight management or body composition may choose erythritol-sweetened products to reduce their overall calorie intake while still enjoying sweet flavors.
Erythritol offers several health benefits, making it a popular choice for those looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the key health benefits associated with erythritol:
- Low Caloric Content: Erythritol contains only about 0.24 calories per gram, significantly less than sugar, which has about 4 calories per gram. This makes erythritol an excellent choice for weight management and for those trying to reduce their overall caloric intake.
- Doesn't Spike Blood Sugar: Erythritol has a glycemic index of zero, meaning it does not raise blood sugar levels. This makes it a safe sweetener for people with diabetes and those following low-carb diets.
- Good for Dental Health: Unlike sugar, erythritol does not contribute to tooth decay. It may even help prevent cavities and dental plaque, as it doesn't provide a food source for harmful oral bacteria.
- Digestive Tolerance: Erythritol is generally well-tolerated and less likely to cause digestive discomfort compared to other sugar alcohols. This is because most of it gets absorbed into the bloodstream before reaching the large intestine.
- Antioxidant Properties: Some studies suggest that erythritol can act as an antioxidant, potentially protecting cells against damage from free radicals.
- May Reduce Heart Disease Risk: Preliminary research indicates that erythritol might help improve blood vessel function, which could reduce the risk of heart disease. However, more research is needed in this area.
- Non-Cariogenic: Erythritol does not feed the bacteria in the mouth, which means it does not contribute to tooth decay, making it a healthier alternative to sugar, especially in terms of oral health.
- Suitable for Keto and Low-Carb Diets: Due to its low-calorie and non-glycemic nature, erythritol is compatible with ketogenic and other low-carbohydrate diets, helping individuals adhere to these regimens without sacrificing sweetness.
- No Impact on Cholesterol Levels: Erythritol does not affect cholesterol, triglycerides, or other biomarkers for heart disease.
- Neutral Taste: Erythritol has a clean, sweet taste with no bitter aftertaste, making it a pleasant alternative to artificial sweeteners and other sugar alcohols.
In summary, erythritol offers a range of health benefits, particularly for those looking to reduce calorie and sugar intake without sacrificing taste. Its low impact on blood sugar and overall safety profile makes it a versatile sweetener for various dietary needs.
Erythritol We Use
At KG Food Company, we use pure and tested erythritol before combining it with other ingredients in our food products. We also use erythritol as an ingredient in doses that are tolerated well in people.
Is erythritol safe to consume?
Yes, erythritol is generally recognized as safe for consumption. It has been extensively studied and approved by major health organizations worldwide, including the FDA and WHO.
Is erythritol diabetic-friendly?
Absolutely. Erythritol has a glycemic index of zero, meaning it does not spike blood sugar levels, making it an excellent sweetener choice for people with diabetes.
Can people without diabetes benefit from erythritol?
Yes, erythritol can be beneficial for anyone looking to reduce their sugar intake, manage weight, or simply prefer a lower-calorie sweetener.
What is the daily limit of erythritol before I may have digestive issues?
Erythritol is well-tolerated, but consuming more than 50 grams per day may cause digestive discomfort in some people, such as bloating or diarrhea.
Can kids consume erythritol?
Yes, children can consume erythritol. However, it's important to ensure that it doesn't replace nutrient-rich foods in their diet.
How sweet is erythritol?
Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as table sugar.
Is erythritol allergenic?
Erythritol is generally not considered allergenic. It is a sugar alcohol that is naturally found in small amounts in some fruits and fermented foods. Unlike some other sugar alcohols, erythritol is less likely to cause digestive issues and is not known to trigger allergic reactions. If you have a history of food sensitivities or allergies, it's always a good idea to introduce new foods, including erythritol, cautiously.
How is erythritol digested in our body?
Erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine and then excreted unchanged in the urine, bypassing metabolism and fermentation in the large intestine.
Why is erythritol pricier than sugar?
The production process of erythritol, which involves fermentation and purification, is more complex and costly compared to the simpler extraction and refinement processes for sugar.
Can I bake or cook with erythritol?
Yes, erythritol is heat-stable and can be used in baking and cooking. However, it may not caramelize or provide the same moistness as sugar.
How do I store erythritol?
Store erythritol in a cool, dry place, away from moisture and heat, in an airtight container.
Is erythritol natural or organic?
Erythritol is considered natural as it is typically produced through a fermentation process using natural sources like corn or wheat starch. It can also be organic if it's derived from organically grown crops and produced according to organic farming standards.
Erythritol is considered natural as it is typically produced through a
Can I get digestive issues from erythritol?
Erythritol is generally well-tolerated and less likely to cause digestive issues compared to other sugar alcohols and bulking sweeteners. However, in large amounts, some people may experience mild digestive discomfort like bloating or diarrhea. It's also worth noting that other ingredients combined with erythritol in certain products might contribute to these symptoms. It is best to test tolerance in isolation while combining it with other ingredients can help reduce the potential digestive issues.
What is the shelf life of erythritol?
Erythritol has a long shelf life and can last for several years if stored properly.
Why does erythritol have a cooling effect on the mouth?
Erythritol has a cooling effect due to its endothermic reaction when it dissolves in saliva, absorbing heat and creating a cooling sensation.
How do I know I'm getting quality erythritol?
Look for erythritol from reputable brands and ensure it's pure erythritol without unwanted additives.