Erythritol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in plants such as vegetables and fruits, is used as a zero calorie sweetener in various foods and beverages. An erythritol sweetener will not raise blood sugar or insulin levels, making it a safe alternative to sugar for those with diabetes or those watching their sugar intake. Many health food stores sell this product for baking and cooking, yet sometimes this type of sweetener doesn't contain pure erythritol, but a mix of erythritol and another sweetener or bulk additive. It is important when choosing an artificial sweetener containing erythritol that one looks at the ingredient list to make sure the product contains pure erythritol and no fillers.
Various erythritol sweeteners on the market are usually sold in bulk by the pound or are sometimes available in convenient packets to sweeten beverages. These sweeteners can be found online and at most health food stores, but it is important to first investigate the ingredients in the product to determine its true makeup. Erythritol should be the only ingredient listed on the label to ensure that the product is pure, and not a blend of different fillers or bulk additives. It is important to stay away from any erythritol sweetener that uses dextrose or maltodextrin as a filler if one has trouble with sugar, because these two fillers are actual sugars and will raise blood sugar and insulin levels.
Another important aspect that most consumers look for is if the sweetener is certified organic and made without the use of pesticides or chemicals. This is seen as important for many consumers who choose to consume healthier alternatives, but it is also optional. A sugar alcohol like erythritol is usually extracted from plant sources, so pesticides should be relatively low or non-existent. If uncertain about any chemical additives during processing, it is best to contact a manufacturer directly.
Most erythritol sweeteners are safe to use for all people, as they do not react or behave the same way as other sugar alcohols. Any sugar alcohol in excess can induce laxative-like properties, yet erythritol only causes this response in a small number of people. Some people may be more sensitive to erythritol's effects than other sugar alcohols, so when consuming an erythritol sweetener for the first time, it is recommended to start with small doses. It is not recommended to feed any item made with a sugar alcohol to animals.