If you love the sweet taste, but avoid sugar and other caloric sweeteners, maybe erythritol is solution for you. This is not an artificial sweetener, but a natural substance, which occurs in various types of food. Calories are very few – 0.2 kcal per gram.
By comparison, regular sugar contains 4 calories per gram. Erythritol looks like a white powder, his sweetness is 70% of the sweetness of sugar. He passes almost unchanged through the digestive tract and without causing adverse metabolic effects that may occur as a result of excess sugar intake.
So, what is erythritol? It belongs to a group of compounds known as sugar alcohols. It is important to know that it occurs naturally in many kinds of foods, including many fruits and mushrooms, as well as in fermented foods such as cheese and soy sauce. Since the 1990s began to be produced commercially, the fermentation of glucose and is approved for food use in most countries of the world. Erythritol has a specific metabolism. More than 90% of ingested erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine. This part is not metabolized and is excreted unchanged in urine. The remaining portion of less than 10% is partly metabolized in the colon. Only about 5% substantial caloric value of erythritol is secured to the body. This is the reason of extremely low caloric value of erythritol. It does not cause jumps of insulin, and is therefore suitable for diabetics.
Unlike some other sugar alcohols (polyols), erythritol has a laxative effect. Of all the polyols, the digestive tract is best tolerated.
Also, erythritol does not contribute to caries. Bacteria in the mouth use the sugar as the main source of energy so that they decompose during which energy is released that is used for their own purposes, such as growth and reproduction. The metabolism (degradation) of sugar leads to the formation of acid that damages the tooth enamel.
Some recent studies indicate that erythritol may be considered like a sweet antioxidant. The erythritol has a structure similar to mannitol, which is already well-known antioxidant.