Erythritol belongs to the group of polyols and is a 100% natural sugar substitute obtained from corn through natural fermentation. The non-GMO* corn is converted into starch by enzymes and then broken down further into glucose. After the starch is completely converted, the glucose is fermented and purified. Crystallising the remaining mixture eventually produces pure erythritol. The white crystalline granules are similar to those of sugar, but just slightly less sweet.
* non-GMO = not a genetically modified organism
What makes erythritol a good alternative to sugar?
Erythritol has a slightly lower sweetening power than sugar (70% to 80%), but, unlike the other polyols, contains no calories or absorbable carbohydrates. The human digestive tract cannot break down the structure of erythritol. A fraction of it is absorbed in the small intestine, but most of it leaves our body unchanged through urine. Because erythritol cannot be absorbed, it has no effects on blood sugar levels. This makes it perfectly suitable for diabetics, people following a special diet or just anyone who wants to live a healthier life.
Moreover, unlike sugar, erythritol does not contribute to tooth decay. Every time you eat or drink sugar, it is converted into acid by bacteria in the mouth. This acid affects the tooth enamel, eventually causing cavities (caries). But because erythritol neutralises the acidity and cannot be broken down in the mouth, it does not affect the tooth enamel and therefore does not increase the risk of cavities.
What can erythritol be used for?
Erythritol has the same taste and crystalline structure as sugar, but is slightly less sweet. Sugar can be replaced by erythritol for all applications. For example to sweeten coffee, tea or yoghurt, but also for baking and warm preparations, given its reliable quality up to 200 °C.
Looking for inspiration on what to make? Click here for the best recipes using Erythritol.
Sanne van Erp, dietitian at Green Sweet