Skip to main content

What you need to know about erythritol, sugar’s sweet cousin

Erythritol has gained huge popularity as a replacement for high-calorie sweeteners like sugar and corn syrup. This compound is one example from a class of chemicals called sugar alcohols that many Americans have taken notice of as they look to cut down on their sugar intake. Given the continued interest in fad diets and weight loss plans, there is great demand for and interest in this brand of sweeteners.

So how does erythritol stack up against traditional sugar? Here’s what you need to know.

Danijela Maksimovic/Shutterstock

What foods contain sugar alcohols like erythritol?

In addition to erythritol, other sugar alcohols include:

  • Xylitol
  • Sorbitol
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol
  • Lactitol
  • Isomalt

Many different foods contain sugar alcohols, and if you see the “sugar-free” label on your favorite drink or snack, there’s a good chance it contains a sugar alcohol. These give artificial sweetness to low-calorie iterations of your favorite treats like candy, cookies, gum, sweetened beverages, toothpaste, and even mouth wash. It’s also good to note that, despite the similarity in the name, they are not the same as ethyl alcohol, the intoxicating substance found in alcoholic beverages.

A woman says no to sugar
Albina Gavrilovic/Shutterstock

Is erythritol really a better option for dieters?

When devising a weight loss or fitness plan, sugar and carbohydrates tend to be the first thing dieters look to reduce or eliminate. Sugar alcohols like erythritol can be very helpful in this process, as you can enjoy your favorite treats like cheesecake, ice cream, and sweet tea without the high calorie count from the sugar.

Scientific studies found that sugar alcohols are safe, and your body generally tolerates them well. However, there are still some side effects to be aware of. They are not serious or life-threatening but can cause discomfort. Unlike other foods that take a regular path through your digestive system, your body can’t digest sugar alcohols until they reach the colon or large intestine, where the natural bacteria break down the substance. This process creates gas in your large intestine and can lead to bloating, gas pain, diarrhea, and indigestion.

These side effects tend to happen only when sugar alcohols are consumed in large quantities. Too much of anything, even a “healthier” sugar substitute, can be unsafe, so always be sure to read the labels and consume in moderation.

Perhaps the most important note, particularly for those looking to watch their waistline, is that erythritol and other sugar alcohols can still cause you to gain weight because, when consumed excessively, this substance can raise blood sugar levels. This is a particular point of concern for diabetics as well.

Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

Health benefits of erythritol vs. sugar

Now for the million-dollar question: Is erythritol better than sugar and other traditional sweeteners? That fully depends on your definition of “better.”

A 2019 study found that sugar alcohols led to lower blood pressure after meals when compared with traditional sweeteners like sugar. Additionally, among all the sugar alcohols, erythritol has the lowest calorie count. Sugar contains approximately 4 calories per gram, other sugar alcohols average 2.6 calories per gram, and erythritol comes in at only 0.24 calories per gram.

Unfortunately, however, erythritol can’t quite capture the taste of sugar that we all know, love, and crave. These sugar alcohols sometimes have a bit of acidity and bitterness, so it might take some time to get acclimated to the new flavor profile. When determining what sugar substitutes you want to try, keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You might need to experiment with different varieties and amounts before landing on the product that works best for you.

Sugar alcohols are popular with dieters because they are a safe, lower calorie alternative to sugar. However, they also come with a range of health benefits, as lowering your sugar intake can reduce your risk of heart disease and prevent your blood sugar levels from spiking. Unless your health care professional indicates otherwise, erythritol can be an excellent ally in your weight-loss goals, especially for those who need a sweet treat to boost their energy in the middle of the day. This product is available in most general and specialty grocery stores, so add it to your list and check it out for yourself.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

Editors' Recommendations

Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
Kitchen and house items you need for your home

You love to relax at home after a long day of work. You also enjoy an occasional spring cleaning to tidy up your house and finally start organizing your closet. You have all those tasks that you have mentally been planning to reorganize, tidy up, and special projects to improve your home and storage space. It makes you feel fulfilled and at peace of mind after finally finishing the home projects you have wanted to catch up on. The supplies list below will help you accomplish your household projects a lot quicker. You get to organize your house without the hassle or frustration of running into a project error.

You are a busy person with a career. It is hard to have the time to catch up on other projects that you have been planning to do for a long time. Let’s you want something to help you have more space in your home, or it seems like every time you open your closet, there is zero storage space for that extra box of files. The supplies that will help you renew your home is missing in your life. No more stuffing pillows and blankets in your closet and no more losing your favorite hat. You want to accomplish your projects without frustration.

Read more
Computer items that you need for your office space
a woman sits at a table in front of a laptop, holding a cup of coffee, looking out to the distance

You are the type of person who constantly stares at the computer or laptop screen during your work hours. It does not mean you have room for your legs and even storage room for all your paperwork. If you are the type of person who needs your laptop constantly for presentations, there are easier ways to move without the hassle of carrying your laptop. You have the constant fear of the laptop slipping from your grasp. You need supplies that will make your work life much easier to use. You also want to stretch your legs during your work hours.

The five items listed above are the ways to make your working life easy. You are the type of person who enjoys multitasking and is determined to finish a project approaching a deadline. You want to feel confident above your presentation that is coming up without any hassle of technology issues. You want to feel relieved and prepared to start your career path, but also be mobile as well. Understandably, you want to present yourself to coworkers or students with confidence. You can show them that you are not the type of person who gives up under pressure, that you work hard, and you always come prepared.

Read more
5 products you need to keep your car looking (and running!) great
woman at airport unloading suitcase from car while wearing a mask

Whether it’s your daily driver that gets you to and from the office or the SUV that totes around all the kids, a car is a big investment — and one that you want to retain value. However, keeping your car looking and running great isn’t always at the top of your chores list. When there are so many other things you need to get in done in a day, car maintenance — even the most basic stuff — doesn’t always take priority. Thankfully, there are some convenient tools and gear that you can use, incredibly easily, to help your car stay in tip-top shape. 

Sure, you may not be a “car person,” but that doesn’t mean you want to let your automotive investment lose value. With just a few easy precautions — like keeping a tire pressure gauge handy to monitor your tire pressure as needed, or using a seat cover every time you travel with a pet — you can conveniently prevent damage that can really reduce the value of your car. 

Read more