Erythritol and Stevia both come from plants, and while they both provide similar nutrients, each one offers something different. Both are considered natural sweeteners because they are derived from food sources like corn, rice, or potatoes.
They contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and neither contains lactose or gluten.
Both offer unique properties that make them useful in a variety of applications. For instance, erythritol is used to replace some of the carbohydrates in foods and beverages, while stevia adds a subtle hint of sweetness to recipes.
Although both products are safe for diabetics and those trying to maintain healthy weight, each has its pros and cons. Read on to learn more about what makes each sweetener special, and find out why you might want to choose one over another.
What Exactly Are They?
Erythritol is one of several types of sugar alcohols, and it is sometimes known as “polyglucose.” This substance is commonly used as a substitute for sugar in baking because it doesn’t raise blood glucose levels nearly as much as table sugar does.
However, it does contain a small amount of calories, so you’ll want to limit how much you consume if you are following a calorie controlled diet.
Stevia is another common type of sugar alcohol. Like erythritol, it is usually sold in either granular or liquid form. Unlike erythritol though, stevia contains no carbohydrates whatsoever.
Instead, it consists of a single molecule called glycosides, which is actually a derivative of sucrose.
Both erythritol (also known as polydextrose) and stevia are low-calorie substitutes for sugar. They’re often marketed as “natural,” but there’s no regulation governing what constitutes “natural.” In fact, the FDA does not regulate food additives at all.
Instead, companies must simply submit their products to the agency for approval. And since erythritol isn’t technically classified as a food additive, it doesn’t require premarket review.
In addition to being low in calories, erythritol takes is easy to store and is also much cheaper than conventional sugar. A 12-ounce bag costs around $4, compared to a 24-ounce container of table sugar that runs you upwards of $7.99.
Erythritol has an antioxidant effect on the body and as such can help blood vessels function well thus reducing the risk of heart disease and helping with diabetes.
Meanwhile, stevia extract has been widely available in health food stores for decades. But recently, manufacturers have begun marketing stevia as a weight loss supplement due to its purported ability to suppress appetite.
This claim hasn’t been scientifically proven, though, and some studies suggest that it could actually increase hunger.
Unlike erythritol stevia has no nutritional value as the vitamins that are contained in the plant are lost during processing.
Blood Sugar Effects
In one recent animal study, rats fed diets containing erythritol had lower fasting blood sugar levels than those fed diets containing glucose. Another study found similar results in human subjects.
However, there’s still limited evidence about how much erythritol affects blood sugar levels in humans. So far, most studies have focused on comparing erythritol to other forms of sugar.
One 2018 animal study found that erythritol lowered blood sugar levels by decreasing sugar absorption in the intestines. This finding suggests that erythritol does something different from other forms of sugar.
But more studies are needed to confirm whether erythritol lowers blood sugar levels by reducing sugar absorption in the gut.
As noted above, erythritol isn’t completely safe for diabetics. Some people experience gastrointestinal distress when taking large doses of erythritol.
Also, some people report feeling sick after eating foods containing high amounts of erythritol like bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, muffins, ice cream, chewing gum, candy, and baked goods.
The bottom line: erythritol is a healthy option for people with diabetes. However, it’s important to follow proper dosing guidelines, including avoiding too many calories and carbohydrates.
Erythritol and stevia are both safe alternatives to traditional sweeteners such as white sugar and brown sugar. They both come in powdered and liquid forms.
Both erythritol & stevia can be used in place of sugar in baking and cooking. While erythritol does taste sweeter than sugar, it won’t affect your overall recipe. You’ll just want to make sure that the amount of erythritol used in your recipe is less than what you’d normally use.
For example, if you’re making cookies, you might add 2 tablespoons of erythritol to your dough rather than 3 teaspoons of regular sugar. This way you don’t end up adding too much sweetness to your finished cookie.
If you’re using stevia, you’ll want to start with about half the amount of sugar called for in your recipe. Then gradually increase the amount of stevia while monitoring how your batter/dough feels.
Too little stevia will cause your batter/dough to feel dry; too much will give it a strange texture. Remember that stevia tastes a lot sweeter than sugar.
Possible Side Effects
The Food and Drug Administration says there isn’t enough evidence to determine whether stevia poses health risks. However, the agency recommends people limit their intake of stevia because it could cause potential side effects.
In particular, the FDA warns against consuming stevia in high doses. They say that too much stevia might increase blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and uric acid levels.
According to the American Dietetic Association, stevia doesn’t affect blood sugar levels like artificial sweeteners do. However, some research suggests that stevia might contribute to weight gain.
In addition, the FDA notes that stevia contains natural chemicals called steviol glycoside. Some of those chemicals have been shown to mimic insulin and decrease glucose absorption in the intestine.
This effect could lead to increased risk of diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Which Is Better?
Erythritol and Stevia are both natural sweeteners used in place of table sugar, but there are pros and cons to each one.
Erythritol does have a slightly gritty texture and tends to crystallize over time so may not be suitable if you won’t use it often.
Stevia is sweeter than Erythritol and it dissolves easily into beverages without having a harsh aftertaste.
The downside to stevia is that it contains glycerin, which can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. Some brands contain guar gum, which can cause similar symptoms.
Both products do not raise blood sugar levels and can be used interchangeably in most baking applications. They’re safe for diabetics, too.
If you’re looking for an alternative sugar that’s low on calories then try erythritol or stevia (see also “Need To Stop Sugar Cravings? Try These 6 Supplements“). They are easy to find and available in most grocery stores and online.