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1. What is erythritol?

Erythritol is a natural bulk sweetener that has zero sugar, zero calories and zero aftertaste. It does not promote tooth decay and is an alternative sweetener of choice for people with diabetes.

2. How long has erythritol been around?

Erythritol is present in fruits such as pears, melons and grapes, as well as foods such as mushrooms and fermented foods such as wine, soy sauce and cheese. So Erythritol has been a part of the human diet for a long time.

3. Is erythritol natural?

Yes. Erythritol occurs naturally at low levels in grapes, melons and pears and can be found at higher levels in fermented products like wine. Since 1990, erythritol has been made by a natural process called fermentation and can be added to foods and beverages to provide sweetness and bulk without adding calories as well as to enhance taste and mouthfeel.

4. How is erythritol made?

Erythritol can be produced from a variety of carbohydrate sources such as sugar beets (organic sugar), corn or wheat (starch). The carbohydrate is mixed with water and fermented with a natural culture. This process is similar to how yogurt is made from milk. (In yogurt, dairy cultures are used.) It is then filtered, crystallized and dried resulting in a final product that's at least 99.5% pure.

5. Is erythritol GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe)?

Yes. Erythritol has been used as an ingredient in foods and beverages since 1990 in Japan and has been used in the US since 2000. It was approved for use in foods and beverages in Canada in November of 2004 and is approved in the EU for use in food. These approvals were based on extensive safety tests that have been reviewed by independent physicians and toxicologists who determined erythritol as safe for use in foods and beverages.

6. How many calories does erythritol contain?

Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling requirements, it has a caloric value of 0.2 kilocalories per gram (95% less than sugar and other carbohydrates), though nutritional labeling varies from country to country. Some countries like Japan and the United States label it as zero-calorie, while European Union regulations currently label it and all other sugar alcohols at 2.4 kcal/g.

7. Is erythritol a sugar alcohol?

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, but it is neither a sugar nor an alcohol. Scientists call these sugar alternatives sugar alcohols because they are carbohydrates with part of their chemical structure resembling sugar and part resembling alcohol. Sugar alcohols are the common name for a class of food ingredients like sorbitol, maltitol, and isomalt that you will find in many sugar-free and low carbohydrate foods. Even though erythritol is a sugar alcohol (polyol), it is unlike the other polyols due to its natural status, caloric content, and high digestive tolerance. It is really a one-of-a-kind bulk sweetener.

8. Can erythritol lead to digestive upset if consumed in large quantities?

Your body handles erythritol differently than other sugar alcohols. The other sugar alcohols are larger molecules that are slowly and incompletely absorbed from the small intestine into the blood. The absorbed portion of these other sugar alcohols is metabolized by the body or excreted in the urine. The part that is not absorbed into the blood is broken down into smaller segments in the large intestine. These unabsorbed segments may cause digestive discomfort and/or laxation via fermentation by naturally occurring bacteria in the large intestine. Because erythritol is a smaller molecule than the other sugar alcohols, it is well absorbed from the small intestine and removed from the body by the kidneys unchanged and excreted in the urine. Erythritol does not get fermented in the lower intestine like other sugar alcohols. The human body does not convert erythritol to energy or fat, so it contributes no calories.

In short, because erythritol is rapidly absorbed from the small intestine and almost eliminated by the body within 24 hours, laxative side effects sometimes associated with excessive polyol consumption are unlikely when consuming foods containing erythritol. While the FDA requires mandatory laxation warning labels on products with some sugar alcohols, products that contain erythritol do not have to display a warning in the US. Compared to other sugar alcohols, erythritol has the highest digestive tolerance.

9. Why is erythritol used with other sweeteners?

Erythritol tastes great by itself, but it is less sweet than sucrose as a sweetening ingredient. It has been found that combining a little erythritol with more intense, non-caloric sweeteners will change the sweetness to be more like that of sugar. In addition, it prevents the after-taste and off-flavors sometimes associated when intense sweeteners are used alone.

10. Does erythritol cause tooth decay?

Erythritol is not converted to acids by bacteria in the mouth. Therefore, it doesn't promote tooth decay. In fact, the FDA has authorized the use of the "does not promote tooth decay" health claim for erythritol. The American Dental Association has adopted a position statement recognizing the role of sugar-free foods and medications in maintaining good oral health.

11. How Sweet is Erythritol?

Erythritol is approximately 70 percent as sweet as table sugar (sucrose). Some manufacturers, however, claim that their erythritol products are as sweet as sugar.

12. Why Do People Use Erythritol?

Erythritol has almost no calories. In the United States, erythritol is labeled as having 0.2 calories per gram, which is 95 percent fewer calories than sugar. In Japan, erythritol is labeled as having zero calories. It has also been found that Erythritol does not affect blood sugar or insulin levels and has a zero glycemic index.

It has a clean, sweet taste more similar in taste to sugar than other natural sweeteners such as Stevia, which can be bitter.

In reasonable amounts, Erythritol doesn’t cause digestive upset and diarrhea that other sugar alcohols like Sorbitol and Xylitol are known to cause. This is because Erythritol is a smaller molecule and 90 percent of it is absorbed in the small intestine and for the most part excreted unchanged in urine. This quality makes Erythritol unique among the sugar alcohols.

Erythritol isn’t metabolized by oral bacteria, which means that it doesn’t contribute to tooth decay.