Making sure your body is getting the right nutrients is essential for maintaining your day-to-day energy levels, as well as your long-term health. Many people try to cut back on sugar, to avoid unnecessary extra calories, nutrient-poor snacks, and the inevitable sugar crash that hits in the afternoon.
Since sugar has largely been blacklisted by health and nutrition experts around the world, a whole host of alternative sweeteners have popped up, including erythritol. However, not everyone is a fan of this sweetener, which brings its own health issues with it.
So, what can I substitute for erythritol? Is there an erythritol alternative that doesn’t come with the health concerns of this sweetener? In this article, we’ll take a look at erythritol sweetener substitutes.
We’ll explain why you may want to avoid erythritol, discuss other artificial sweeteners and why they may not be the answer we were hoping for, and introduce you to an incredible alternative for erythritol that doesn’t come with health concerns or side effects.
Why You May Be Considering an Erythritol Substitute
Erythritol has become a staple in many low-carb and sugar-free recipes, thanks to its unique properties as a sugar substitute.
But, erythritol might not be as innocent as it first appears. Here’s why it’s worth exploring an erythritol substitute for your health and safety.
The Initial Appeal of Erythritol
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that has garnered a considerable following. Unlike sugar, erythritol is not fermentable by oral bacteria, reducing the risk of tooth decay and promoting dental health. It is often used in sugar-free gum and dental products for this reason.
It contains approximately 0.24 calories per gram, which is about 6% of the calories found in an equal amount of sugar. This low-calorie content makes it an attractive option for those seeking to reduce calorie intake or manage their weight.
It is virtually carbohydrate-free and has a glycemic index of zero, meaning it does not significantly affect blood sugar levels. This characteristic makes it a preferred choice for people with diabetes or those following a low-carb or ketogenic diet.
The Downsides to Erythritol
Despite having some things going for it, erythritol is not without its drawbacks, leading many people to explore erythritol alternatives. So, what are the dangers of erythritol?
First of all, it can have a weird texture. Erythritol can crystallize and form a gritty texture in recipes, especially when it cools. This texture doesn’t usually work for baking, when a smooth, sugar-like consistency is preferred.
Erythritol also has a distinct cooling effect in the mouth, which some people find unpleasant. This cooling sensation can be particularly noticeable in baked goods or cold desserts, detracting from the overall taste experience.
Alarmingly, erythritol also comes with some scary short and long-term health effects. In the short term, erythritol can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort, causing diarrhea, bloating, stomach cramps, gas, or other digestive issues.
In the long term, erythritol consumption has been linked with an increased risk of developing serious cardiac issues, like a heart attack or stroke. Researchers found that long-term erythritol consumption makes people around twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Yikes!
What Can I Substitute for Erythritol?
Does learning more about this sweetener make you want to find an erythritol alternative? You’re not alone! So, what can I substitute for erythritol? Let’s take a look at some of the most common erythritol substitutes out there, and whether they’re actually safer or healthier.
It was once assumed that because stevia has zero calories and zero glycemic index, it was suitable for low-carb and low-calorie diets. However, research has since shown a link between stevia and weight gain, meaning you should think twice before switching to this sweetener.
Plus, many people find that stevia tastes bad, leaving an intense, bitter aftertaste that overpowers the flavor of whatever it’s being added to.
How much stevia is too much? Recent studies into stevia show that it can disrupt our digestive system, affect our blood pressure, and even interfere with our reproductive system - stevia during pregnancy is potentially dangerous. Unfortunately, stevia isn’t the solution.
Another sugar alcohol like erythritol, xylitol has become a popular erythritol substitute for baking and other uses. But is it any better? Some people experience digestive issues after consuming xylitol, including gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Xylitol is also deadly for dogs, so if you do have xylitol products at home, make sure they’re well out of reach of your pets.
Allulose is a naturally occurring, zero-calorie sweetener found in some fruits. It’s relatively new to the market, but there’s already evidence to suggest that it can cause the same stomach issues as xylitol and erythritol, meaning that it probably isn’t the best erythritol alternative.
Also, allulose is banned in Europe and Canada, because not enough research has been conducted to confirm that it’s safe for use in foods and beverages.
Tagatose is a keto-sugar that is found in nature in small quantities. It’s a low-calorie and low-glycemic-index sweetener, but it can cause a laxative effect if you consume too much. While this isn’t the worst erythritol alternative, it’s not always easy to find, and isn’t readily used as a sugar substitute.
Trehalose, sometimes also known as mycose or tremalose, is a sugar consisting of two molecules of glucose. Trehalose has the same calories as regular sugar, so it’s not a good option if you’re looking for a low-calorie sweetener as your erythritol alternative.
Aspartame is one of the most common artificial sweeteners, and a popular substitute for erythritol. However, aspartame should be used with caution. It’s been linked with certain types of cancer, as well as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Another popular erythritol substitute is sucralose (Splenda), but there are a number of important things to understand before you think about switching to this sweetener. Firstly, can sucralose cause headaches? Yes - many people experience headaches, migraines, and other symptoms from sucralose.
Also, sucralose intolerance is quite common, with many people experiencing digestive issues and discomfort after consuming sucralose. When it comes to stevia vs sucralose, sucralose may taste better, but can bring these unfortunate side-effects with it.
Also, if you’re on a keto diet, make sure you understand sucralose and keto. Sucralose can actually spike your insulin levels, bringing you out of ketosis and reducing your ability to burn fat and lose weight.
The Rise of Sweet Proteins: The #1 Alternative to Erythritol
Feeling like none of the options we just described are really a good substitute for erythritol? Never fear! There’s an erythritol sweetener substitute we haven’t talked about yet, and it’s the best one yet: sweet proteins!
What are Sweet Proteins?
Sweet proteins are natural compounds found in certain tropical fruits. They can be up to 5,000 times sweeter than sugar, meaning that only a tiny amount of sweet protein is needed to add a delightfully sweet taste to your favorite food or drink.
Because sweet proteins are used in such tiny quantities, they don’t have the caloric load or glycemic impact associated with traditional sweeteners. Also, because they’re naturally found in fruit, our bodies generally tolerate them a lot better than the artificial sweeteners on our list.
Benefits of Sweet Protein as an Erythritol Substitute
So, can sweet proteins be used as a sugar substitute, and are they a good erythritol sweetener substitute? Yes and yes! Sweet proteins offer a safe, zero-calorie sweetener that’s not only naturally occurring but also tastes great - no unpleasant aftertastes here!
Sweet proteins are also heat-stable, making them a good erythritol substitute for baking without losing their sweetening properties, which many other sweeteners do. Sweet proteins also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, unlike other sweeteners which bring health issues with them.
Discover Firsthand Why We Use Sweet Protein as an Erythritol Alternative!
At Oobli, we use sweet proteins as an alternative to erythritol to produce safe, healthy, guilt-free versions of your favorite snacks and treats. Our precision fermentation protein process allows us to naturally produce large quantities of the same sweet proteins that are found in nature.
Our thirst-quenching low sugar tea is one of the best no sugar drinks you’ll ever taste. Available in several delightful fruity flavors, this iced tea is so sweet you won’t believe it’s good for you! Plus, all our teas are vegan, keto-friendly, and contain just a handful of ingredients.
As well as our teas, we also have decadent, low-sugar dark chocolate bars. We use the power of sweet proteins to craft chocolate that’s vegan, high-fiber, and good for your gut health. Plus, it tastes delicious - give it a try and see for yourself!
Bringing Our Guide to the Top Erythritol Substitute to a Close
Whether you’re looking for an erythritol substitute for baking, or just trying to find erythritol-free versions of your favorite low-calorie snacks, the search can be a complicated one. With so many different sweeteners to choose from, how do you know which are safe and healthy?
At Oobli, we make it a lot more simple. Using sweet proteins, we’ve created naturally sweet alternatives to your favorite treats, without any nasty artificial ingredients or aftertaste! Guilt-free, delicious, and naturally good for you - what could you want?!
Discover the sweet protein revolution for yourself - find your new favorite treats at Oobli today!