It has long been no secret to anyone that sugar in its usual form is a very harmful product. But you should not completely deprive yourself of the usual desserts either. As you know, the use of sweets, sweets, chocolate helps fight stress, increase efficiency, mood. Abuse can lead to diabetes mellitus, which is caused by easily digestible carbohydrates, in particular sucrose. Therefore, scientists are busy looking for such sweeteners that will please the usual sweet taste, saturate the body with vital elements, but, at the same time, will be the most harmless to humans and will not cause addiction. It is the sweetener erythritol that is now considered the leader among natural sweeteners.
What is erythritol
Erythritol or erythritol is included in a number of polyhydric sugar alcohols (polyols) along with sorbitol and xylitol, but, unlike them, does not contain ethanol. Polyol erythritol is produced from natural starch-containing products: corn, tapioca, etc. Some fruits and vegetables contain erythritol in its natural form:
- Grapes – 42 mg / kg;
- Pears – 40 mg / kg;
- Melons – 22-50 mg / kg.
Sometimes it is even called “melon sweetener”. It looks like an ordinary white crystalline powder, sweet in taste. But, compared to regular sugar, the sweetness coefficient is slightly lower – 0.7 (sucrose – 1), so erythritol is classified as a bulk sweetener. It can be consumed on its own, but to achieve a higher level of sweetness, it is best used with intense sweeteners.
Erythritol does not have any aftertaste, but when used in large doses, a feeling of chill occurs in the mouth. This is due to the fact that during dissolution, the product absorbs a large amount of energy – up to 45 kcal / g, while for sucrose this figure is 6 kcal / g.
Differences from other sweeteners
All sugar alcohols – xylitol, sorbitol and erythritol – successfully replace sucrose and do not cause narcotic addiction. But erythritol compares favorably with its predecessors.
The sweetener erythritol has no energy value. This means that its calorie content is practically zero, while the calorie content of xylitol is 2.5 kcal/g, sorbitol is 2.8 kcal/g, and sugar is 4 kcal/g. This is a very important feature, since erythritol is a bulky sweetener, you need to use more of it to achieve the desired sweet taste and not add extra calories. Zero calorie content is due to the fact that erythritol molecules are small, quickly absorbed into the blood, are also quickly excreted from the body with urine, do not cause fermentation and, as a result, decay products – fatty acids with caloric content – do not enter the body.
The small size of the molecules causes their absorption already in the small intestine and the metabolic process (chemical decomposition reactions in metabolism) do not have time to occur. As a result, the sweetener erythritol has absolutely no effect on the level of glucose in the body. That is, the glycemic index is zero. Other sweeteners, including sugar alcohols, affect blood glucose levels, although much less than sugar. For example, the glycemic index of sorbitol is 9, xylitol is 13, and sucrose is 65. Therefore, erythritol is ideal for people who are watching their weight.
Another very important and beneficial difference is the insulin index. Compare:
- Erythrotol – 2;
- Xylitol – 5.5;
- Sorbitol – 11;
- Sugar – 43.
All sweeteners, except erythritol polyol, support sugar addiction in the body. The sensation of sweetness in the mouth predisposes the body to the intake of glucose. Insulin is released into the blood. Since there is no glucose available, insulin drastically lowers blood sugar levels. Starvation sets in and cravings for sweets increase. In this regard, erythritol poses a minimal threat to people with diabetes, since it practically does not affect insulin levels.
Erythritol, as a bulk sweetener, requires slightly more to achieve the desired flavor. But even in large doses, it does not cause diarrhea, bloating, gas formation in the intestines. This is also a consequence of its special metabolism in the body. Most sugar alcohols do not interact well with the intestinal microflora and, as a result, a possible increase in the risk of dysbacteriosis diseases. But since only about 10% of erythritol reaches the intestines with “good bacteria”, and 90% is absorbed in the small intestine, such problems are excluded.
The biochemical resistance of erythritol to the effects of fungi and harmful microorganisms is very high. After eating foods containing this sweetener, the pH level in the mouth does not change for a long period of time, while after sucrose it drops sharply after one hour and the risk of dental caries increases.
Useful and harmful properties of the sweetener
Like all new products, the sweetener erythritol has undergone numerous studies and has been tested for safety for the human body. The result did not reveal any harmful properties of the food preparation, the negative consequences of its use, and the toxicity of erythritol was not detected. All over the world, it was recognized as a harmless food additive and designated with the code E968.
The beneficial properties of the sweetener are obvious:
- Zero calorie;
- Low glycemic index;
- Low insulin index;
- High degree of protection against caries and other infectious diseases of the oral cavity;
- Acts as a powerful antioxidant.
The only thing to be wary of is a single dose in large quantities to avoid a laxative effect. It is better that a single dose does not exceed 30 grams (5 teaspoons). This is quite enough to satisfy the need for sweets. And the most reasonable, of course, always and in everything to observe the measure.
Breadth of application
Given all the beneficial properties of erythritol, it is easy to assume that the range of its use in everyday life is very wide. In addition, this sweetener can be combined with other intense sweeteners to achieve a synergistic effect. It lies in the fact that the level of sweetness of a mixture of products is much higher than the sum of the sweetness of the components, that is, a smaller amount of sweeteners can enhance the taste. Considering also the zero energy value of the additive, the benefits of using it in food production to reduce calorie content become obvious:
- Chocolate – by 30-35%;
- Cakes and pastries – by 30-40%;
- Cupcakes, biscuit products – by 20-25%;
- Not chocolate sweets – by 60-70%.
The physicochemical properties of erythrol can significantly increase the…