Erythritol flowing off a spoon being looked at under a magnifying glass

Sugar-Free Sweetener: Erythritol

Last updated: January 2022

If you live with type 2 diabetes, then chances are you have experimented with different types of sugar-free sweeteners. There are so many available to choose from, but of course, not all taste the same. Most people have already developed their preferences regarding what alternative sugar they like, but it doesn't hurt to learn about different ones.

One of the most popular sugar-free sweeteners discussed in this article is called erythritol. You have probably seen this ingredient listed on type 2 diabetes-friendly foods and beverages but might not know what exactly it is.

What is erythritol?

First off, this is a tricky word to pronounce and spell correctly, but the way you would pronounce erythritol is " ear-reeth-ri-tall." This alternative sugar is considered a sugar alcohol, also known as a polyol. It is actually derived from a corn-based sugar called dextrose and then produced using fermentation.1

Besides being found in corn, erythritol is found naturally in small amounts in grapes, peaches, mushrooms, and certain fermented foods. It is a bright white color and can be sold as a fine powder or coarse granules.1

How to use erythritol

Erythritol is only about 60-80 percent as sweet as regular white sugar. Therefore, when using it in a recipe to replace white sugar, you may need to use a more considerable amount of it or mix it with another alternative sweetener.1

It is possible to purchase erythritol on its own in a 1 pound bag, and it comes in a granulated or powdered form like white sugar. Erythritol is often combined with other sugar-free sweeteners like monk fruit, stevia, or allulose.

Brands of erythritol sweetener

Brands like Swerve, Lakanato, and Truvia incorporate erythritol with other sugar-free sweeteners to create a blend that can be used 1:1 in baking and other applications.

Benefits of erythritol

Erythritol is great because it is both sugar-free and calorie-free. When added to foods and beverages, it does not raise the amount of added sugars, carbohydrates, or calories at all! Therefore, it is an excellent option for people with type 2 diabetes.

When consumed, erythritol does not threaten to cause cavities as regular sugar does. Additionally, when used to bake or when added to packaged foods, it helps food retain moisture. It is pretty affordable, and you can purchase 1 pound of it for $6-10 dollars online.

Drawbacks of erythritol

There are a few potential cons to be aware of as well. Although erythritol has been approved as a safe food to consume by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO), it may not be suitable for some individuals. Sugar alcohols may cause stomach pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people.1

Other sweetener options

Although many alternative sweeteners exist, not all of them may be a great fit for you personally. Some people might not like the flavor of some, while some may find that certain ones cause stomach problems. If you're interested in reading about more sugar-free sweeteners, you can read about monk fruit, allulose, and others.

What is your favorite alternative sweetener to use?

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