Seen as a better alternative to conventional sugar, Erythritol, though new to the sugar substitute market, is gaining a strong fan following. This sugar alcohol is not an artificial sweetener, unlike the other options that have similar benefits. With almost no caloric disadvantage as compared to conventional sugar, erythritol does not shoot the blood sugar levels and also has no role in tooth decay. Gaining popularity among health freaks, this substitute might be worth a look.
What is Erythritol?
A member of the family of compounds known as sugar alcohols, Erythritol shares a common heritage with sweeteners like xylitol, glycerol, isomalt, lactitol, mannitol, and sorbitol. Erythritol is derived from fermented natural sugar of husks of corn.
It is available in granulated as well as powdered form and has started appearing in a variety of products in US and other countries as a sweetener. It is frequently found in chewing gums, beverages, and baked goods. This hybrid of a carbohydrate and alcohol does not contain ethanol- the alcohol responsible for getting people drunk.
Health quotient of Erythritol
Due to the unique chemical structure, Erythritol passes unchanged through our body. It easily gets absorbed in the small intestine and is excreted almost unchanged. This means that the blood sugar levels remain controlled and the digestive system is unaffected of excess sugar.
Tasting 70% like natural sugar this sugar substitute contains only 6% the calories of sugar. While table sugar contains 4 calories per gram, erythritol contains just 0.24 calories in each gram. This value is significantly lower than its sugar-alcohol counterpart xylitol which has 2.4 calories per gram.
Health Benefits of Using Erythritol
- No spike in insulin levels and blood sugar
For people with diabetes or those that have high risks, Erythritol proves to a great candidate for sugar level control. While tasting just like sugar, this sweetener cannot be digested by the human digestive system, and hence fails to liberate free sugar into the blood. Passing unchanged through the digestive system, it does not alter the insulin and blood glucose levels.
- Ideal for diet management
If you are fighting against putting on extra pounds, sugar management becomes necessary. While traditional table sugar contains 4 calories in each gram Erythritol has the lowest caloric content amounting to virtually nothing. It is an ideal substitute for your sugar cravings , without leaving you guilty of ditching your daily caloric intake.
- No tooth decay
Because the oral flora is unable to digest sugaralcohols due to lack of enzymes, they perish. This also means that the otherwise formed by-products responsible for caries progression are not formed, resulting in areduction in caries occurrence. Studies have proved that Erythritol is even more potent in protecting tooth against decay than xylitol.
Ways of using Erythritol
Cooking or baking with Erythritol is not very different than using table sugar. The only difference is in the quantity of sweetener that would be needed. Because Erythritol is 70% as sweet as table sugar, you might need to use 25% extra for optimum sweetness. Some choose to combine Erythritol with Stevia for the added sweetness.
Erythritol has a natural cooling effect in the mouth, so it is better to avoid it in peanut butter or oatmeal cookie. When baking with Erythritol, it is advocated to avoid its use in cheesecakes and cream cheese frostings without enough liquid content, as on cooling it will recrystallize leaving a sandy and crunchy texture. As long as you do not overly consume this sweetener you will not notice any side effects. When consumed over 50 grams in a day Erythritol can, though not always, cause digestive troubles.
If you are looking for a sugar detox but still want to indulge in delicacies, you can add Erythritolto pies brownies, cookies, sorbets, or cheesecakes. This natural sweetener is a great way to substitute the caloric and glycemic downsides of table sugar.