It was discovered in 1848 by John Stenhouse, a Scottish chemist. It is produced by fermenting wheat or corn using the fungi Trichosporonoides megachliensis or Moniliella pollinis.
It is a sugar substitute that tastes and looks like sugar, yet has almost no calories.
But the real reason that sugar alcohols (note – sugar alcohol is better known as a polyol and can be classified as a carbohydrate) provide fewer calories than sugar because they are not completely metabolized by your body.
This sweetener has a higher digestive tolerance compared to all other polyols due to the fact that approximately 90 percent of the ingested erythritol is excreted unchanged in the urine.
It is naturally found in fruits such as cantaloupe, pears, mushrooms, and grapes. It is also a food additive approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Erythritol is not as sweet as sugar on its own (approximately 70 percent) so it’s usually combined with other artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, in beverages and foods.
It is heat stable and can be used for cooking at home. However, when combining it with a liquid, it doesn’t dissolve as easily as sugar.
As a sweetener, it is used in numerous industries, such as – beverage, food production, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and many other industries.
It can have a definite “cooling effect.” Its aftertaste disappears quickly, giving it a fresh sweetness.
Similar to other polyols, it is resistant to metabolism by oral bacteria that break down starches and sugars to produce acids that can lead to cavities formation and tooth enamel loss.
Note – dental caries is the primary chronic disease among youth aged 6 to 19 years.
According to a study done by the National Center for Health Statistics:
“Among adults aged 20-64, 91% had caries and 27% had untreated tooth decay.”
It has a low glycemic index and consumption of 1g/kg bodyweight does not raise blood sugar and insulin levels.
Note – in 2015, over 9% of the American population had diabetes.
It does not tend to have the laxative effect, as do other sugar alcohols and sweeteners, however, it would be wise to limit consumption to no more than 50g per day.
Although the benefits may seem awesome, there are some great concerns over the safety of such sweeteners.
It also promotes loss of electrolytes and dehydration, creating a feeling of excessive thirst.
We recommend you eat only a small amount of this sweetener when you first try it.
That way, you can observe any negative reaction or allergy before it is serious.
Stevia is a herb which contains compounds called glycosides (rebaudioside and stevioside) which are up to 200 times sweeter than sugar.
This plant originally came from the rain forests of Paraguay and Brazil (Moises Santiago de Bertoni first scientifically recorded this herb in 1899 as Eupatorium rebaudianum), but now you can also find this plant in South East Asia.
Stevia products found on the market, like Stevia in the Raw and Truvia, don’t incorporate the whole stevia leaf.
They’re actually produced from a highly refined stevia leaf extract named – Reb-A (rebaudioside A).
Presently, this sweetener is used for numerous purposes – from its liquid bottle or processed powder used to sweeten soft drinks to the raw sweet leaves in Japanese teas, or even at home for cooking and baking.
The Japanese are the biggest consumers of this sweetener and use it especially on foods, like soy sauce and as a replacement for saccharin and aspartame.
Even small doses of this sweetener will have a notable impact on the taste of your food. However, many people have reported having a bitter aftertaste.
The stevia plant has numerous antioxidant compounds and sterols, such as:
- quercetin (a natural pigment that is present in many vegetables, fruits, and grains);
- caffeic acid;
- chlorogenic acid;
In low doses, consumption of this sweetener appears to be associated with general anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
According to a 2009 study by the Department of Foods and Nutrition, Rajasthan, India, it increases HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol.
In addition, as it contains inflammatory and antibacterial compounds, it prevents the colonization of harmful bacteria in the mouth and around the gums, hence, stopping the formation of plaque and cavities.
Moreover, it is considered to be a remarkable healing agent for a few skin conditions.
Stevioside, the main active ingredient in this sweetener, appears completely harmless, however, in the guts of rats, intestinal bacteria transformed this compound into something called steviol, which is toxic, causing a huge spike in mutagenic DNA damage.
More importantly, for children, the long-term effects of consuming foods and drinks containing this sweetener are unknown, thus, it is recommended for kids to avoid them as much as possible.
Erythritol vs Stevia – Final Thoughts
Erythritol measures cup for cup for table sugar, but is only about 70 percent as sweet as sugar. This is why combining erythritol with stevia is a great choice and very sweet. For example, just 1/16 tsp will sweeten a cup of coffee.
However, while erythritol and stevia have a few side effects, the threat grows when they are combined with artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
Nevertheless, my final decision is that they’re not worth it for me. Ideally, we should be looking to eat natural, whole foods to provide our bodies with the necessary nutrients.
It turns out, according to a study by Huffington Post, real sugar tastes better than any sweetener. It also appears that people hate these two sweeteners due to their “artificial taste.”