What’s the Difference Between Stevia and Erythritol?
When it comes to sugar substitutes, the most important thing you should know is that you have options. There’s stevia, of course. Well-known for its intense sweetness and equally intense aftertaste, it’s definitely the sweetener of choice for many. But what about sugar alcohols, like erythritol, which offer similar health benefits to stevia, but without the chemical tang? In the battle of erythritol vs. stevia, which one is the winner?
The answer, of course, is it depends.
But, First: Why Should You Use Sugar Substitutes?
We know that 7 in 10 American adults are overweight or obese. We also know that sugar consumption is directly linked to obesity. And obesity is associated with several dire medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, chronic back pain, and cancer. It follows, then, that reducing sugar consumption, with the help of sugar substitutes (which contain fewer calories than sugar), may lead to a lower risk of obesity.
Sugar substitutes like stevia and erythritol also have little to no impact on your blood sugar, making them a healthy choice for diabetics. And they may offer some unique health benefits, depending on which sweetener you choose.
Let’s take a closer look.
What Is Stevia?
A zero-calorie sugar substitute that’s 200-400 times sweeter than sugar, stevia is considered a “novel sweetener.” This means it comes from a natural source, but is highly processed to get to what we you’ll find in the grocery store. It can be found in liquid, powder, or granulated form. Stevia’s biggest downfall is its bitter aftertaste.
- Type of sugar substitute: Novel
- Calories per gram: 0
- Glycemic index: 0
- Sweetness: 200-400 times sweeter than sugar
- Side effects: Aftertaste
What Is Erythritol?
Erythritol is a sugar substitute known as a sugar alcohol. It has nominal calories (.24 per gram) and minimal glycemic impact, making it a good choice for diabetics. It’s also less sweet than sugar and has a fresh, sometimes minty aftertaste. The downside? Eating too much can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
- Type of sugar substitute: Sugar alcohol
- Calories per gram: .24
- Glycemic index: 0-1
- Sweetness: 60-70% as sweet as sugar
- Side effects: gastrointestinal symptoms
Erythritol vs. Stevia: Which Is Best?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both depending on what’s best for your unique diet. To make matters more complicated, you’ll often find them packaged together: Many brands, including Truvia, Stevia In The Raw, and Pure Via contain stevia and erythritol to create a more sugar-like taste.
One further consideration is baking: Stevia is heat stable up to 200° Celsius (392° Fahrenheit), making it a reasonable sugar substitute. However, since stevia is much sweeter than sugar, you’ll want to make sure you use less (a lot less). Erythritol, on the other hand, is only heat stable up to 160° Celsius (320° Fahrenheit), and, since it’s less sweet than sugar, you may need to use more to get the desired sweetness. Neither one will provide the same browning and caramelization you’ll get from regular sugar.
Whichever you choose, both of these alternative sweeteners are certainly healthier than artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Equal)!
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