Erythritol is produced by hydrolyzing corn starch into glucose, and then fermenting glucose using yeast or fungus. Unlike stevia or monk fruit, erythritol is less sweet than sugar. It's about 70% as sweet as sugar, so it's easier to substitute erythritol for sugar in a 1:1 ratio, without overwhelming your taste buds.
What is stevia? Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that has gained popularity in the past few decades. It is 200-400 times sweeter than sugar and has zero calories. It can be found in liquid, powder, or granulated form.
Stevia goes by several brand names, such as Truvia, Stevia In The Raw, or PureVia.
Stevia, when sold as a sweetener, is actually an extract from the stevia plant Stevia rebaudiana. Pure stevia leaf is not FDA-approved as a sweetener in the United States but can still be used in foods or other consumable products as a dietary supplement.
Where does stevia come from? Stevia extract comes from isolating the sweet-tasting glycoside compounds in the stevia leaf. By far, the most common compound used is “rebaudioside A” (though more and more manufacturers are looking into “rebaudioside M”).
How sweet is stevia? Stevia is 200-400 times sweeter than sugar.
How many calories does stevia have? Stevia contains zero calories, as opposed to regular sugar’s 4 calories per gram.
How is stevia made? Stevia is made by isolating certain sweet-tasting compounds from the stevia leaf. The FDA has approved stevia sweetener as “generally accepted to be safe” (GRAS) as a high-intensity sweetener.
How is stevia classified? Many classify stevia as a “novel sweetener”. Stevia comes from a natural source, but manufacturers have to process the stevia to make it into the sweetener we know. It is not technically a natural sweetener, but it is not an artificial sweetener, either. That’s why people refer to stevia as a “novel sweetener”, just like monk fruit extract.
Does stevia contain erythritol? Stevia does not contain erythritol. However, certain brands such as Truvia, Stevia In The Raw, and Pure Via all contain stevia extract and erythritol for a more “sugar-like” taste.
Health Benefits of Stevia
Heat stable up to 200° Celsius
Safe for diabetics and on the keto diet (as long as the stevia product doesn’t contain bulking agents that do affect blood glucose, such as dextrose or maltodextrin)
Vasodilator (may lower blood pressure)
Side Effects of Stevia
May affect male fertility
What is erythritol? Erythritol is a sugar alcohol (polyol) that has nearly zero calories and is 70% as sweet as table sugar (sucrose).
Sugar alcohols (like erythritol, xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol) may be used as food additives or sweeteners. For example, erythritol is the main ingredient in the sweetener Swerve and is used in many brands of chewing gum and ice cream.
How sweet is erythritol? Erythritol is 60-70% as sweet as sugar. This means you may need to use a slightly larger volume of erythritol vs sugar to get that same sweetness.
How many calories does erythritol have? Erythritol has 0.2 calories per gram, which is just 5% of the calories in sugar. If you’re tracking net carbs, like on the keto diet, erythritol can be subtracted from total carbs.
Where does erythritol come from? Erythritol can be found in many fruits and vegetables.
How is erythritol made? Commercial erythritol is often made from enzymatically hydrolyzed corn starch. This creates glucose, which is then fermented into erythritol.
How is erythritol classified? Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, which means it has a molecular structure similar to both sugars and alcohols. “Sugar alcohol” is a type of sugar alternative which includes erythritol, xylitol, and a handful of others.
Is erythritol natural or artificial? Erythritol is found in nature, while it can also be created artificially. It is classified as a sugar alcohol.
Health Benefits of Erythritol
Glycemic index of 0
Extremely low-calorie: 0.2 calories per gram
Heat stable up to 160° Celsius
Little to no aftertaste
Safe for diabetics
Safe for a ketogenic diet
Side Effects of Erythritol
When you consume too much erythritol or any sugar alcohol, it may lead to gastrointestinal side effects:
Diarrhea (laxative effect)
Disruption of gut bacteria
Does erythritol have an aftertaste? Erythritol has little to no aftertaste.
What is xylitol? Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol known for its oral health benefits in preventing tooth decay. It may even promote immune health.
Xylitol’s glycemic index is 13, which is the second highest of the sugar alcohols, but still far lower than sugar.
How sweet is xylitol? Xylitol is about as sweet as sucrose — 95% to 100% sweetness.
How many calories does xylitol have? Xylitol contains 2.4 calories per gram, much better than sugar which has 4 calories per gram.
Where does xylitol come from? Xylitol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Commercial xylitol is usually a byproduct of corn, wheat, or certain tree barks. (“Xyl-” means wood, named after the tree bark that xylitol was originally sourced from.)
How is xylitol made? Commercial xylitol is made by extracting xylan polymers from tree bark or plant waste, which is hydrolyzed, then hydrogenated.
How is xylitol classified? Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. Though it is found in nature, experts classify xylitol as a sugar alcohol, not a natural sweetener like agave nectar or maple syrup.
Does erythritol taste like xylitol? Erythritol and xylitol taste similar, but xylitol is sweeter than erythritol gram-for-gram.
An important note: Although humans tolerate xylitol well, xylitol is toxic to dogs. The canine digestive system thinks xylitol is sugar, so it increases insulin levels to absorb sugar from the blood. Since there was no actual sugar, a dog’s blood glucose levels will then drop dangerously low. This hypoglycemia may lead to death.
Health Benefits of Xylitol
Glycemic index of 13 out of 100
Heat stable up to 216° Celsius
Promotes immune health
Side Effects of Xylitol
Issues with gut bacteria
Toxic to dogs
Calories, Glycemic Index, and Sweetness
Below is a helpful table comparing calories, glycemic index, and sweetness of stevia, erythritol, and xylitol.
Calories per gramGlycemic index (out of 100)Sweetness (% of sugar)
Stevia0020,000% – 40,000%
You’ll notice stevia is many times sweeter than sugar, which is why stevia extract is often diluted and/or added to food in small amounts.
Erythritol vs.Stevia Baking
Stevia and erythritol can both be used as an alternative to table sugar. However, there are certain things that have to be considered before using them in cooking.
The granulated form of erythritol or stevia might cause problems when used in baking. They tend to take longer to dissolve. To overcome this hurdle, the powdered form of erythritol or liquid stevia is recommended.
Since erythritol has 60-80% sweetness level compared to table sugar, it is recommended that the amount of sugar to be used must be increased, about 1.3 times more. For stevia, it is recommended to know the concentration level first before converting it into sugar. As it comes in a variety of forms for commercial use stevia is more difficult to use in cooking. Important to note that, stevia does not work well with ingredients that are naturally bitter, like dark chocolate as it amplifies the bitter taste.
Erythritol and stevia might both have a sweet taste, but their actual taste is far from the taste of table sugar. As mentioned above, some people might find stevia having a bitter taste. Erythritol, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same mouth sensation as table sugar, as it provides a cooling sensation in the mouth.
Erythritol vs.Stevia Taste
Substituting Erythritol for Sugar
Erythritol has a glycemic index of zero and a caloric value of 0.2 calories per gram, essentially making it noncaloric. This sweetener is made via fermentation from glucose and sucrose to create a product that's about 70 percent as sweet as sugar.
Erythritol is one of the most popular alternative sweeteners to normal sucrose-based sugar as it has no aftertaste and mixes well with other foods. There's no need to create specific recipes using erythritol — just swap it for the equivalent amount of sugar.
Erythritol is a polyol, a type of carbohydrate that's hard for your body to digest and is consequently excreted in urine. Since your digestive system can't absorb erythritol, too much can cause gastrointestinal side effects; however, these are minimal in comparison to other alternative or artificial sweeteners.
This sweetener's lack of side effects and flavor means that erythritol can be substituted for sugar better than most other alternatives to standard sucrose sugar. It also acts as an antioxidant and can improve oral health by preventing bacterial growth. The primary downside to erythritol is that it's difficult and costly to produce, compared to other alternative sweeteners, including other polyols.
Stevia: Plant or Sweetener?
Stevia is an alternative sweetener from the South American plant Stevia rebaudiana, a type of sunflower. These days, stevia is grown all over the world in countries like Paraguay, Kenya, China and the United States. It requires very little land, water and energy to grow, making it an ecologically friendly and affordable crop that can be grown in most of the world.
The word stevia typically refers to sweeteners sourced from the stevia plant, rather than a brand or exact product. Stevia has only been popular for the last 50 years, making it a fairly new alternative sweetener. It has been shown to have positive health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and making it easier for people with diabetes to improve their nutritional status.
Stevia primarily contains steviol glycosides, which can be used to make a sweetener 10 to 15 times as sweet as regular sugar. However, products sold as stevia may also refer to high-purity stevia leaf extract, which can be up to 400 times as sweet as regular sugar. Specific steviol glycosides that can create such high-intensity sweeteners include:
Stevioside: 150 to 300 times as sweet as sugar
Rebaudioside A: 200 to 400 times as sweet as sugar
Rebaudioside B: 300 to 350 times as sweet as sugar
Rebaudioside C: 50 to 120 times as sweet as sugar
Rebaudioside D: 200 to 300 times as sweet as sugar
Rebaudioside E: 250 to 300 times as sweet as sugar
Rubusoside: 110 times as sweet as sugar
Steviolbioside: 100 to 125 times as sweet as sugar
Dulcoside A: 50 to 120 times as sweet as sugar
Erythritol vs Stevia for Diabetics
Some artificial sweeteners say “sugar-free” or “diabetic-friendly,” but research suggests these sugars actually have the opposite of effect.
Your body responds to artificial sweeteners differently than it does regular sugar. Artificial sugar can interfere with your body’s learned taste. This can confuse your brain, which will send signals telling you to eat more, especially more sweet foods.
Artificial sweeteners can still raise your glucose levels
One 2016 study saw normal-weight individuals who ate more artificial sweeteners were more likely to have diabetes than people who were overweight or obese.
Another 2014 study found that these sugars, such as saccharin, can change your gut bacteria composition. This change can cause glucose intolerance, which is the first step towards metabolic syndrome and diabetes in adults.
For people who don’t develop a glucose intolerance, artificial sweeteners may help with weight-loss or diabetes control. But switching to this sugar replacement still requires long-term management and controlled intake.
if you’re thinking of replacing sugar regularly, talk to your doctor and dietitian about your concerns.
Erythritol vs Stevia aftertaste
There’s no bitter aftertaste. You can’t even tell this isn’t sugar. Seriously? Why is anyone using stevia?Erythritol is a naturally occurring sweetener found in fruits, vegetables, cheeses and even yogurt. It’s often obtained through a culturing or fermentation process, which is the case with the erythritol in Swerve as well as ZSweet—one of the first zero-calorie sweeteners to blend erythritol with natural ingredients to create an easy-to-use, easy-to-digest alternative to sugar.
Which is Best: Stevia, Erythritol, or Xylitol?
There are advantages to stevia, erythritol, and xylitol. None is better than another, but knowing the benefits of each can help you decide which is best for your unique meal plan.
Stevia extract is an antioxidant up to 400 times sweeter than sugar, yet it has no calories so it is good for low-calorie and low-carb diets. Stevia has a glycemic index of 0, so it is safe for diabetics. Unfortunately, stevia has an aftertaste.
Erythritol is an antioxidant sugar alcohol with virtually no calories and a glycemic index between 0 and 1. Erythritol is actually an ingredient in most commercial stevia products. All sugar alcohols may cause bloating or diarrhea if consumed in large amounts.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that may help prevent cavities. Xylitol is just as sweet as sugar, but with only 60% of the calories. However, xylitol comes with the potential side effects of sugar alcohols (gastrointestinal distress) and is toxic to dogs.
These alternative sweeteners are all healthier than artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Equal). Not only will your taste buds thank you for using stevia, erythritol, or xylitol — your whole body will thank you.
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