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Xylitol vs Erythritol

Nutrition Research Reviews, December 2003.

Comparison of Sugar and Sugar Alcohols

Ingredient Sweetness GI Cal/g
Sucrose(sugar) 100% 60 4
Maltitol Syrup 75% 52 3
Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate 33% 39 2.8
Maltitol 75% 36 2.7
Xylitol 100% 13 2.5
Isomalt 55% 9 2.1
Sorbitol 60% 9 2.5
Lactitol 35% 6 2
Mannitol 60% 0 1.5
Erythritol 70% 0 0.2

Difference Between Xylitol and Erythritol?

Xylitol Erythritol
• Made from U.S.-grown hardwood trees • Made from Sugar
– fermenting agent added.
• Safe for diabetics • Safe for diabetics
• 2.4 calories per gram • 0.2 calories per gram
• 75% less carbohydrates than sugar • 0 carbohydrates
• 7 on the glycemic scale • 0 on the glycemic scale
- General Recognized As Safe
- General Recognized As Safe
• FDA approved food additive • FDA approved food additive
• 1:1 in place of sugar • 2/3’s cup equals 1 cup of sugar
• Absorbed through large intestine • Absorbed through small intestine
• Can be mixed with other sugars • Can be mixed with other sugars
• As sweet as sugar • 70% as sweet as Sugar
• Excessive use can cause mild laxative effect • Highest digestive tolerance of all sugar alcohols

Erythritol has only 5% of the calories of sugar, but 70% of the sweetness.

It’s a sugar alcohol, but with a few key benefits over both sugar and other high-calorie natural sweeteners, and sorbitol, maltitol and others used in low-carb products today.

Benefits of erythritol vs. maltitol, sorbitol and other sugar alcohols

  • fewer calories–0.2 calories per gram, versus 2.1 and 2.6 calories per gram in maltitol and sorbitol, respectively
  • higher digestive tolerance (i.e. no bloating or diarrhea)–it is much harder for bacteria in your digestive tract to digest and convert to gas; it is for the most part absorbed into the bloodstream and excreted through urine unchanged

Advantages of erythritol over sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.

  only 5% of the calories of sucrose — 0.2 calories per gram vs 4 calories per gram in table sugar (sucrose)

  does not stimulate a blood sugar spike and insulin response, the pattern of which is being implicated in diabetes and weight gain; sucrose is far worse than fructose (in honey), but the reponse is far higher in both than in erythritol and other sugar alcohols

  does not promote tooth decay–like xylitol, it is “tooth friendly”

Other benefits of erythritol

  • It’s 100% natural, occurring naturally in fruits like canteloupe and grapes. Also, it’s a natural by-product of fermentation by bacteria in your digestive tract.
  • It’s safe. The U.S. FDA lists it as a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) substance, the highest-safety designation, like foodstuffs.
  • It is not hygroscopic, which means it doesn’t attract moisture and start to clump and harden, like fructose or brown sugar do.

The downsides to erythritol

  • It has a large, negative heat of dissolution, which means that it cools hot liquids much more than sugar when you dissolve it (see picture to right), and it is very difficult to dissolve it in cold liquids like iced tea.
  • It is only 70% as sweet as table sugar (sucrose), so you will have to use more of it to make something as sweet as sugar.
  • It will not melt or caramelize, so it will not brown or melt if you want to make candy or caramel.
  • When a liquid with erythritol dries on a glass, it creates fine, white crystals, which makes your glass look really dirty.

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