A Guilt-Free, Tasty Sweetener

In a previous post, Dr. Sears wrote about a natural sweetener called xylitol, which can be used in place of sugar. Xylitol scores only seven on the glycemic index, so it has a minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin levels (and can actually help prevent tooth decay).
But xylitol also has a cooling effect on the tongue, which some people don’t care for. And while it is safe, it can cause minor gastrointestinal upset. That’s why I prefer a similar sugar alcohol called erythritol.

Erythritol occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. As a sweetener, it is made from corn via a natural fermentation process. And the properties of this great-tasting, natural sweetener are remarkable:

  • Erythritol is 80 percent as sweet as sugar. However, unlike sugar, which is high in calories, erythritol is almost calorie free.
  • It scores just over zero on the glycemic index. That means it is totally safe for diabetics and won’t affect your insulin levels.
  • It is granulated, just like sugar, so it can be easily substituted for sugar in recipes.
  • It is easy to digest – which means no gastrointestinal disturbance.

Quite simply, this is one of the best natural sweeteners to come along in quite some time, and you’ll likely be seeing it in more and more products. I use it all the time. I sprinkle it over berries or cereal, I mix it with cocoa and milk for a low-calorie chocolate drink, I use it to lightly sweeten smoothies, and I have used it in cake and frosting recipes too. The only way I don’t particularly like it is for sweetening tea or coffee. I prefer stevia for that.

You can find erythritol in many health food stores, and it is readily available online. Cargill has an organic version (Zerose) that is made from organic, non-genetically-modified corn.