Erythritol vs Xylitol: Are Sweeteners a Shortcut to a Healthier Life?

Sweeteners are mostly synthetic substitutes for sugar but they can also be obtained from the processing some plants that contain natural sugars. Artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than ordinary sugar, and only a small amount of them is needed to replace a spoon of sugar. As for natural sweeteners, which include Xylitol and Erythritol, they contain calories, but their caloric value is drastically lower than in conventional sugar. In addition, natural sweeteners have less sweetness than white sugar but are easier to digest and absorb in the body.

People who take care of their health and look consider the calorific value of these products as a significant item. While it is common knowledge that white sugar has about 400 kcal per 100 g, it is noteworthy how sweeteners like Xylitol and Erythritol are better options. The first one contains only 250 kcal per 100g while Erythritol is still the best option, it has only 20 kcal per the same amount.

If you are trying to reduce the number of calories and the amount of free sugar, then sweeteners and other sugar substitutes can be one of the choices. Health benefits from the use of these sweeteners can be seen in the control of body weight, diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, dental hygiene, etc.

In short about Xylitol or Erythritol

Erythritol and Xylitol belong to a group of chemical compounds called sugar alcohols. It is approved for use as a food additive in most parts of the world. This alcohol is produced from glucose by yeast fermentation but does not taste like one. In fact, neither of those sweeteners has some specific taste or aroma. Erythritol has 60-70% sweetness of plain white sugar, although it has a minimum caloric value of 0.2 kilocalories per gram, which is more than 90% less than other sugars. Xylitol is a less caloric, but also a sweeter variant of natural sweeteners.

There are some differences in the composition of Xylitol and Erythritol. Xylitol is obtained from the birch bark by derivation of one specific type of monosaccharide that abounds in fibers. It results in "high" calorific value. On the other hand, Erythritol has a distinct metabolic profile that leads to low caloric value. Because of its specific composition, this substance passes substantially unchanged through the digestive tract and does not cause any harmful metabolic effects that occur as a result of excess sugar intake.

Health benefits

Except for the benefits that the use of Xylitol and Erythritol has in our appearance, positive health effects are visible too. White sugar is a source of many diseases, and unfortunately, it is so widespread that people have created some kind of addiction for it. Precisely this sugar is a culprit for many illnesses of today like high blood pressure or diabetes, which, unfortunately, is more and more likely to affect the younger population. Even the cancer cells are fed with sugar.

On the other hand, the Glycemic Index, which shows how some ingredients affect blood glucose and insulin secretion, in Xylitol is very low. In regular sugar, it is 68, which shows a rapid influence on the level of sugar in the blood, whereas Xylitol is only 7, and Erythritol is only 1.

Because of its fibrous structure, Xylitol is not absorbed into the small intestine and does not go directly into the bloodstream. So this natural sweetener leaves the digestive tract and our body non-processed. The human organism is not able to digest Erythritol; it does not possess a specific enzyme, so this substance goes directly into the bloodstream, but due to low GI, it does not affect the blood sugar level.

Sometimes these chemicals can react with other foods that we eat, as well as with enzymes that our pancreas and other organs produce, and cause problems. In the case of Xylitol, it manifests in the form of stomach cramps and gases, while when consuming Erythritol, acid reflux or dehydration of the organism can occur, because essential electrolytes are lost.

Erythritol vs. Xylitol

When comparing these two sweeteners, a slight advantage is on the side of Erythritol. Apart from lower calorieс value and without effect on blood glucose levels, its use causes fewer digestion disorders as it is entirely transferred to the bloodstream. Then, the regular use of Erythritol has more health benefits. Experts recommend both sweeteners for everyday use, but Xylitol as restricted.

Bacteria founded in the mouth can't use Xylitol and Erythritol as a source of energy, so their growth is disabled; there is no possibility for the development of caries. In addition, Erythritol also has several antioxidant properties.

There are more reasons why we should limit the use of Xylitol. In the process of obtaining this sweetener, manufacturers use some toxic substances, like nickel. On the other side, fermentation for obtaining Erythritol is a natural process.

Another important thing – Xylitol is toxic for dogs. Animal lovers would certainly not want to risk the lives of their pets, so it is better to use this drug as a much safer option.

Will use of Xylitol or Erythritol solve health issues?

Today, natural sugar substitutes can be found in a large number of different products, from juices through chewing gum, sweets, ice cream, and protein supplements. Natural sweeteners can replace white sugar as good as artificial sweeteners, although they have more calories than, for example, saccharin. It's still less than in white sugar. Anyhow, no artificial sweetener or a natural substitute for sugar is not a shortcut to a better look, unless we do some significant corrections of our lifestyle.