A bit of a mouthful, erythritol, (sounds like air-rith-rih-tall), is a sweetener you may have seen listed among other ingredients for things like chewing gum, baked goods and beverages. While it sounds new, erythritol was discovered by Scottish chemist John Stenhouse in 1848. This sugar alcohol occurs naturally in some fruits like watermelon, pears and grapes, as well as some fermented foods like wine, sake and soy sauce.
Even though small amounts of erythritol are present in nature, for mass production, it is generally made from cornstarch. It is about 60–80% as sweet as sucrose (sugar) but is nearly non-caloric. And, unlike sugar, it does not cause spikes in blood sugar, because the body doesn’t break it down like a sugar, making it a great option for those seeking an alternative sweetener.
Something to Smile About
Other sugar alcohols you might know include sorbitol and xylitol. Like its sweet brethren, erythritol supports dental health because it can help suppress the growth of bad bacteria and acids, two things that can lead to tooth decay—that’ll give you something to smile about!
Did you know: Even though erythritol was discovered in the mid-1800s, it wasn’t used as a sweetener until 1990.