Xylitol vs. Erythritol: Which Sweetener Should You Choose?
With so many sugar alternatives out there, it can be difficult to understand all of your options and choose the best one for your health goals. Two of the most popular choices are xylitol and erythritol. Here’s what you need to know about these sweeteners so that you can make the best choice for a healthy lifestyle:
What Is a Sweetener?
A sweetener is a natural or artificial substance added to foods and beverages to provide a sweet taste. Sweeteners are usually used in place of table sugar, either to limit calories, lower blood sugar, or promote dental health.
Why Choose a Sweetener?
Choosing a sweetener over regular sugar comes with a whole host of benefits, for example:
- Decreasing caloric intake: Sugar is jam-packed with calories that can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
- Maintaining blood sugar: Sugar causes your blood sugar to spike and plummet, which is particularly dangerous for diabetics.
- Improving your skin: Sugar is also a common cause of acne, as it contributes to oil production and inflammation.
- Stabilizing energy levels: Sugar may energize you, however, this boost of energy is only temporary and can quickly lead to a crash.
What Is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol that’s naturally found in many fruits and vegetables. Xylitol tastes similar to table sugar in terms of sweetness but has fewer calories — just 2.4 calories per gram rather than 4 calories per gram. Like other refined sweeteners, xylitol doesn’t contain any vitamins, minerals, or protein — just calories.
Pros and Cons of Xylitol
Now that you have a better idea of what xylitol is, let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of this sweetener.
The pros of xylitol include:
- Low calorie: Xylitol is a low-calorie alternative to sugar that can help you reduce your caloric intake by 34%.
- Low glycemic index: Xylitol has a low glycemic index, making it ideal for those with diabetes. Xylitol’s glycemic index is 7, whereas regular table sugar is around 60 to 70.
- Better for your teeth: Sugar can wreak havoc on your teeth and lead to cavities. However, xylitol cannot be metabolized by plaque bacteria and does not contribute to the formation of cavities.
The cons of xylitol include:
- Digestive upset: While consuming small amounts of xylitol is safe, consuming too much xylitol can lead to digestive upset.
- Bad for the environment: Xylitol isn’t very environmentally-friendly. This is because xylitol made from birch trees involves stripping the bark from the tree, essentially killing it, and requiring another 15 years to grow to reach harvest size.
- Toxic for dogs: One key thing you need to know about xylitol is that it’s toxic for dogs. Even just a small amount of xylitol consumption can prove dangerous or even fatal for dogs.
What Is Erythritol?
Like xylitol, erythritol is another type of sugar alcohol that’s used as a low-calorie sweetener. Erythritol is also a naturally-occurring substance that’s found in some fruits and fermented foods. And while erythritol tastes very similar to regular table sugar, it contains virtually no calories.
Pros and Cons of Erythritol
Based on what we’ve covered about erythritol, let’s dive deeper into some of the pros and cons of this sweetener.
The pros of erythritol include:
- Virtually no calories: You’d be hard-pressed to find a lower-calorie sweetener than erythritol since it contains virtually no calories at 0 to 0.2 kilocalories per gram.
- Low glycemic index: Like xylitol, erythritol also has a low glycemic index, although its glycemic index of 1 means that it results in a very small increase in blood sugar.
- Promotes weight loss: Since erythritol contains no calories, it’s an ideal sugar substitute for those looking to cut out unnecessary calories and promote weight loss.
The cons of erythritol include:
- Erythritol sensitivity: Some people may be sensitive to erythritol in large amounts, and this sensitivity can result in gastrointestinal symptoms.
Other Sweetener Options
While xylitol and erythritol are two of the most popular sweeteners available, there are other options you should know about when searching for healthy and low-calorie food alternatives.
- Aspartame: Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that’s about 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. Aspartame is commonly used as a low-calorie sweetener in food products and drinks, including diet sodas.
- Stevia: Stevia is a natural sweetener that’s derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant native to South America. Stevia is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, gram for gram, thanks to sweet compounds like stevioside and rebaudioside.
- Monk fruit: Monk fruit is a natural sweetener that’s extracted from the monk fruit native to Southeast Asia. Monk fruit extract is actually 100 to 250 times sweeter than table sugar since its sweetness comes from antioxidants called mogrosides rather than natural sugars like fructose and glucose. Monk fruit is often blended with erythritol.
Which Sweetener Should You Choose?
With countless sweeteners on the market, it can be challenging to choose just one. However, we have found that the best sweetener by far is erythritol. Erythritol contains no calories, whereas xylitol still contains calories — just fewer than regular sugar. Erythritol also comes with a lower risk of digestive upset compared to xylitol. Finally, erythritol is non-toxic to your furry friends.
Does Erythritol Taste Good in Desserts?
Surprisingly, despite having virtually no calories and a minimal glycemic index, erythritol tastes very similar to sugar and tastes great in desserts. In fact, we’re willing to bet that you can’t tell the difference between the taste of erythritol and sugar in your favorite desserts, including cookies, muffins, and brownies.
Bougie Bakes: Healthy Sugar-Free Desserts
If you’re looking for proof that erythritol tastes just as good as sugar in your favorite desserts, look no further than Bougie Bakes! Bougie Bakes uses erythritol to flavor our sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and keto-friendly desserts.