You have probably heard about erythritol. Erythritol is a natural sugar substitute that has gained popularity in recent years due to its low calorie and low glycemic index. It is a sugar alcohol that is commonly found in fruits, mushrooms, and fermented foods. Erythritol has a similar taste and texture to sugar, making it an excellent alternative for people who want to reduce their sugar intake but still enjoy sweet foods. But recently you may have heard some interesting new findings that may indicate that consuming large amounts of erythritol could increase the risk of cardiovascular events in those who already have some heart health risk factors. Let’s talk about it.
First, why do so many people love erythritol? Here are the positives:
- Low calorie: Erythritol is a low-calorie sweetener that contains only 0.2 calories per gram, compared to sugar's 4 calories per gram. This makes it an excellent choice for people who are trying to reduce their calorie intake.
- Low glycemic index: Erythritol has a low glycemic index of 0, which means it does not raise blood sugar levels. This is a huge benefit for people with diabetes or those who want to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
- Tooth-friendly: Erythritol is tooth-friendly and does not contribute to tooth decay. This is because it is not fermented by oral bacteria and does not produce acid that can harm teeth.
- No effect on insulin levels: Erythritol does not stimulate insulin secretion, meaning it may be beneficial for people with insulin resistance or diabetes.
- Easy to digest: Erythritol is easy to digest and is not known to cause digestive problems. Unlike other sugar alcohols, such as xylitol and sorbitol, erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream before it reaches the large intestine, reducing the likelihood of digestive issues.
- Safe for pets: Erythritol is safe for pets, unlike xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs. This makes it easier to use for pet owners who want to enjoy sweet treats without putting their pets at risk.
- It’s natural: Erythritol is a naturally occurring sweetener found in fruits, mushrooms, and fermented foods, making it a great sweetener option for anyone looking to remove artificial ingredients from their diet. Erythritol is an excellent natural alternative to sugar for people who want to reduce their sugar intake while still enjoying sweet foods!
Erythritol and heart health – what do we know?
Even with all of these benefits, is there added risk to your heart health by consuming erythritol? Well, the answer is “maybe”. There have been many scientific studies on the benefits and health effects of erythritol; decades of studies stating that erythritol is safe to consume. A recently published study by Nature Medicine seemed to indicate that there appeared to be a “two-fold” increase in heart attack and stroke risk for those with the highest amount of erythritol in their blood who also were already at high risk for heart disease. More research needs to be done to confirm these findings, especially since they appear to be in conflict with previous research. As reported by CNN, “In response to the study, the Calorie Control Council, an industry association, told CNN that ‘the results of this study are contrary to decades of scientific research showing reduced-calorie sweeteners like erythritol are safe, as evidenced by global regulatory permissions for their use in foods and beverages,’ said Robert Rankin, the council’s executive director, in an email. The results ‘should not be extrapolated to the general population, as the participants in the intervention were already at increased risk for cardiovascular events,’ Rankin said." (Source)
In an article published on January 1, 2023 in the National Library of Medicine, they discuss a pilot study in which patients with type 2 diabetes “exhibited reduced arterial stiffness and improved endothelial function” after 4 weeks of erythritol consumption. They also conclude that “Erythritol is a naturally occurring, safe, and non-nutritive sugar alcohol.” (Source)
You have options
Of course, As with any food or supplement, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet. We encourage everyone to consider carefully what they consume. Everyone is different, and sometimes something that works well for one person may not work well for the next. If you do find that erythritol is not right for you, or you’d just like to experiment with something else, we encourage you to consider our monk fruit allulose blends instead, which include crystalline and powdered options!