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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Sheila

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in pears and grapes. Industrially, it is made by yeast. It is an excellent sugar substitute because it can both replace sugar, with very few calories, and may also help reduce free radical formation through its antioxidant properties.

Unlike other sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol, erythritol is absorbed into the body. The others, because they are not absorbed, can have a laxative effect. Safety studies suggest that erythritol is well tolerated and shows no signs of toxicity.

Caution About Erythritol

Erythritol is safe, but should not be an excuse to eat more junk food. Over the years, several large scale prospective cohort studies found a positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain. This may be because people who knowingly consume artificial sweeteners may actually end up eating more calories. Additionally, by continuing to consume any sweeteners—with or without calories—we are unable to train our flavor preferences away from intensely sweet foods.  

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