Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Healthy Diet Plans >>  Sweeteners >>  Natural Sugar Substitutes >>  Erythritol


Erythritol is a natural sugar substitute and a polyol that is a sugar alcohol. It is virtually non-caloric yet 70% sweet as table sugar. Erythritol has been a part of human diet since ages. At low levels erythritol is naturally found in grapes, pears and melons and found at higher levels in fermented products like wine. Daily in our regular diets knowingly or unknowingly it is estimated that we consume approximately 30-100 mg of naturally occurring erythritol.

Erythritol has been used as a sugar substitute in many products in Japan since late 1980’s. Recently it is approved for use in Canada and U.S. Under the requirements of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for labeling, erythritol has a caloric value of 0.2 calories per gram in U.S. but Japan labels it as 0 calories (calorie free).

Unlike other sugar alcohols erythritol is absorbed well in the blood stream (due to its small molecular size and structure) in small intestines and excreted in the urine unchanged with in 24 hours. As it is not absorbed in the large intestine (as most of it, around 95% is absorbed in the small intestine) it does not have any laxative effects. It is also more difficult for intestinal bacteria to digest it, so is unlikely to cause any other gastric side effects like gas or bloating like other common sugar alcohols. In general it is free of any side effects, but one should remember that if consumed in large quantities, which the body can not absorb easily, then it may cause laxative effects (1 gm per kilogram body weight is well tolerated by adults).

Erythritol is safe for people with diabetes as it does not affect the blood glucose or insulin levels and can be easily replaced for sugar to make food formulated specially for people with diabetes. Erythritol is tooth friendly as unlike other sugar alcohols it is resistant to metabolism by oral bacteria that produces acid by breakdown of sugars and alcohol that may lead to loss of tooth enamel and cavities. Erythritol is a non-cariogenic polyol sweetener approved by American Dental Association and FDA and claimed that its use does not promote tooth decay.

Erythritol has a clean and crisp taste, very similar to sugar, but when compared to sugar it lingers poorly in the mouth and when consumed in high concentration has a slight harsh after-feel. Due to this effect it is often combined with high intensity sweeteners like sucrose.

Submitted on January 16, 2014