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Erythritol: Health Benefits And Side Effects

Erythritol, a sugar alcohol, is naturally present in some melons, pears and grapes, mushrooms and fermented foods such as cheese, beer and wine. It is also artificially produced and added to low-sugar and sugar-free items.

Erythritol is produced when a type of yeast ferments glucose from wheat or cornstarch, and is known to contain much fewer calories as compared to other sweeteners [1] .

Food manufacturing companies use erythritol to sweeten or thicken products like sugar-free foods and drinks. Erythritol can be found in zero-calorie diet soda, sports and energy drinks, sugar-free gums, mints, chocolate products, packaged grain-based desserts, frostings and in some medications.

The sweetener is often mixed with popular sugar substitutes such as stevia and aspartame, to make them sweeter.

Health Benefits Of Erythritol

1. Helps in weight management

Foods which contain erythritol are more likely to have fewer calories compared to those sweetened with sugar. Therefore, it can be helpful in managing weight. In addition, erythritol is also suitable for diabetic people and people who are on a keto diet [2] .

2. Controls blood sugar

Erythritol is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine with only a small per cent entering the colon and the rest excreted unchanged in the urine. This sweetener doesn't cause a spike in blood sugar or insulin levels and doesn't have a negative effect on cholesterol and triglycerides levels. This makes erythritol an excellent sweetener for diabetic people [3] .

ALSO READ: Artificial Sweeteners And Their Side Effects

3. Prevents heart disease

A study showed that 24 adults with type 2 diabetes who consumed 36 grams of erythritol regularly for a month improved blood vessels function, thereby lowering their risk of heart disease [4] .

4. Inhibits plaque formation

Studies have shown that erythritol can lower the formation of plaque and even help prevent tooth decay according to a study. During the course of the study, 485 primary school children each were given four erythritol, xylitol or sorbitol candies three times per day. The results were erythritol caused a lower number of cavities than xylitol or sorbitol [5] .

Side Effects Of Erythritol

  • Causes digestive ailments

Erythritol can cause abdominal gas, diarrhoea, bloating in some people as they are not completely absorbed by the body and are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine [6] .

  • May cause allergic reactions

According to a study published in the Journal of Dermatology, erythritol may cause an allergic skin reaction in some people [7] .

In addition, if erythritol is used in combination with aspartame, an artificial sweetener, it can lead to side effects like weight gain, brain tumours, anxiety, depression, fatigue, etc.

ALSO READ: Artificial Sweeteners Can Actually Cause Weight Gain And Diabetes: Study

So, Is Erythritol Safe To Consume?

Erythritol is safe to consume and no serious side effects have been shown yet. The WHO approved erythritol in 1999 and the FDA approved it in 2001.

However, it is important to consume it in moderate quantities, which means the intake of this sweetener shouldn't exceed 1 g per kg of body weight [8]

How To Use Erythritol

This artificial sweetener can be used in your coffee, tea, cakes, pastries and other baking products.

View Article References
  1. [1] Moon, H. J., Jeya, M., Kim, I. W., & Lee, J. K. (2010). Biotechnological production of erythritol and its applications.Applied microbiology and biotechnology,86(4), 1017-1025.
  2. [2] Hootman, K. C., Trezzi, J. P., Kraemer, L., Burwell, L. S., Dong, X., Guertin, K. A., … Cassano, P. A. (2017). Erythritol is a pentose-phosphate pathway metabolite and associated with adiposity gain in young adults.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America,114(21), E4233–E4240.
  3. [3] Noda, K., Nakayama, K., & Oku, T. (1994). Serum glucose and insulin levels and erythritol balance after oral administration of erythritol in healthy subjects.European journal of clinical nutrition,48(4), 286-292.
  4. [4] Flint, N., Hamburg, N. M., Holbrook, M., Dorsey, P. G., LeLeiko, R. M., Berger, A., ... & Vita, J. A. (2014). Effects of erythritol on endothelial function in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study.Acta diabetologica,51(3), 513-516.
  5. [5] Honkala, S., Runnel, R., Saag, M., Olak, J., Nõmmela, R., Russak, S., ... & Honkala, E. (2014). Effect of erythritol and xylitol on dental caries prevention in children.Caries research,48(5), 482-490.
  6. [6] Mäkinen, Kauko K. “Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated with the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols with Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals.”International journal of dentistryvol. 2016 (2016): 5967907.
  7. [7] Hino, H., Kasai, S., Hattori, N., & Kenjo, K. (2000). A case of allergic urticaria caused by erythritol.The Journal of dermatology,27(3), 163-165.
  8. [8] Tetzloff, W., Dauchy, F., Medimagh, S., Carr, D., & Bär, A. (1996). Tolerance to subchronic, high-dose ingestion of erythritol in human volunteers.Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology,24(2), S286-S295.
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