Are you looking for a sugar substitute that won't add calories to your diet? Erythritol might be the answer. This natural and commercially produced sweetener has zero calories and is commonly used as a sugar substitute in low-calorie, low-carb, and keto products. But is erythritol safe to use? Let's take a closer look at its uses, benefits, and risks.
What is Erythritol?
Erythritol is an organic compound that belongs to the family of sugar alcohols or polyols. It has four carbon atoms and is naturally present in some foods like grapes, mushrooms, pears, and watermelon. However, most of the erythritol used in food production comes from cornstarch through fermentation or hydrolysis.
Benefits of Erythritol
One of the main benefits of erythritol is its zero-calorie content. Unlike regular sugar, which contains four calories per gram, erythritol has no caloric value. This makes it an ideal sugar substitute for people who want to reduce their calorie intake or manage their blood sugar levels.
Moreover, erythritol does not raise blood glucose or insulin levels since it is not metabolized by the body. This makes it a suitable sweetener for people with diabetes or those following a low-carb diet.
Erythritol also has a cooling effect on the tongue, similar to menthol. This makes it a popular ingredient in chewing gum and mint-flavored products.
Is Erythritol Bad for You?
While erythritol is generally considered safe to use by regulatory agencies like the FDA and EFSA, some studies suggest that it may have adverse effects on health when consumed in large amounts.
Increased Risk of Heart Disease
A recent study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic found that erythritol may be associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The study showed that those who consumed higher amounts of erythritol had a higher incidence of cardiovascular events.
Another study published in Nature found that erythritol fosters enhanced thrombosis, which can increase the risk of blood clots.
However, it's important to note that this study was conducted on mice and may not necessarily apply to humans. More research is needed to determine the long-term effects of erythritol consumption on human health.
Another potential risk of erythritol consumption is digestive discomfort such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. This can occur when large amounts of polyols are consumed since they are not completely absorbed by the small intestine.
Erythritol is a natural sweetener with zero calories that can be used as an alternative to regular sugar. It has many benefits such as being suitable for people with diabetes or those following a low-carb diet. However, there are also potential risks associated with its consumption such as digestive discomfort and possible adverse effects on heart health.
If you decide to use erythritol as a sweetener, make sure to consume it in moderation and pay attention to any adverse reactions your body may have.
More information on Erythritol:
Personally, I'm in the ‘can't digest' camp (or latrine) when it comes to erythritol.
BochaSweet is my go-to for a pretty decent sugar replacement.