Erythritol is an alternative to sugar that has gained immense popularity in recent years. Its reputation as a low-calorie sweetener makes it a favored option as a stand-alone product and as an additive to a host of low-sugar and sugar-free foods and beverages. Low-carb products and diets include erythritol to enhance sweetness and texture, as well. Where did this sugar replacement come from, and does it deserve its renown as a safe additive?
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol naturally present in some fruits and fermented foods such as grapes, pears, wine, cheese, and mushrooms. However, the versions of this white crystalline product that we see in marketplaces are manmade. Scottish chemist John Stenhouse discovered this polyol in 1848, and Japanese manufacturers commercialized it in 1990. The FDA approved its use as a food additive in America in 2001. This sweetener renders about 60 to 80 percent of the sweetness of refined sugar, and it is often one of many sweetening additives in processed foods.
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