As the world becomes more health-conscious, sugar substitutes are in the limelight. In the sugar-free world, Erythritol and Stevia are two giants that are often pitted against each other. Both sweeteners offer a sugar-free alternative to table sugar but come with their unique properties and health benefits. This article aims to explore the major differences and similarities between the two, helping you make an informed choice.
What is Erythritol?
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol or polyol, commonly found in fruits like watermelon, pear, and grapes, but in small quantities. Most commercial erythritol is produced from cornstarch. It’s approximately 70% as sweet as table sugar, but its main selling point is that it doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels, making it a favorite among those following low-carb and keto diets.
What is Stevia?
Stevia, on the other hand, is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, native to South America. The sweetness of Stevia comes from compounds called steviol glycosides, which can be up to 300 times sweeter than regular sugar. Like erythritol, Stevia doesn’t contribute calories or carbs to your diet and doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels.
While both are marketed as natural sweeteners, their production methods differ. Erythritol, though found naturally in fruits, is typically industrially produced from genetically modified corn. Stevia, however, is extracted from the stevia plant, although the white powdered form has undergone more processing than the green leaf or liquid extract forms.
Stevia is significantly sweeter than erythritol, meaning you need less Stevia to achieve the same level of sweetness. This difference can affect the texture in baking and the overall taste of your dish.
Some users report a cooling sensation or slight aftertaste when consuming erythritol. Stevia, particularly lower-quality versions, can also leave a bitter aftertaste.
Erythritol is not fully absorbed in the digestive tract, which can cause digestive issues for some people, especially when consumed in large quantities. Stevia, in contrast, doesn’t usually cause digestive issues unless consumed in very high amounts.
Flavor & Taste
In terms of taste, erythritol is often said to resemble sugar more closely than Stevia. While erythritol has a clean, sweet, sugar-like taste, Stevia can have a licorice-like aftertaste, particularly if used in large amounts.
|Carbs||4g (0 net carbs)||0g|
|Sweetness||70% as sweet as sugar||200-300 times sweeter than sugar|
15 Facts About Differences and Similarities
- Natural Origins: Both erythritol and Stevia have natural origins – erythritol from fruits and Stevia from the Stevia rebaudiana plant.
- Calorie Content: Neither erythritol nor Stevia contribute any calories, making them suitable for weight management diets.
- Carbohydrate Content: While erythritol technically contains carbs, it doesn’t affect blood glucose or insulin levels because the body doesn’t metabolize it. Stevia has zero carbs.
- Safe for Diabetics: Due to their zero or low impact on blood sugar levels, both erythritol and Stevia are safe sweetener options for people with diabetes.
- Tooth-Friendly: Both erythritol and Stevia don’t contribute to tooth decay, unlike regular sugar. Erythritol might even help prevent cavities.
- Keto-Friendly: Both sweeteners are commonly used in ketogenic or low-carb diets due to their low net carb count.
- Taste Difference: Erythritol has a taste closer to sugar, while Stevia can sometimes leave a licorice-like aftertaste.
- Sweetness Level: Stevia is significantly sweeter than erythritol, which can affect how you use them in recipes.
- Heat Stability: Both erythritol and Stevia are heat stable, making them suitable for baking and cooking.
- Digestive Tolerance: Some people might experience digestive upset with erythritol, especially in large amounts. Stevia doesn’t typically cause these issues unless consumed excessively.
- Processing: Stevia undergoes less processing than erythritol, especially in its green leaf or liquid extract forms.
- Regulation: Both sweeteners are recognized as safe by the FDA, although only high-purity Stevia glycoside products, not whole-leaf Stevia or crude Stevia extracts, are generally recognized as safe.
- Availability: Erythritol and Stevia are widely available in grocery stores and online, though Stevia is generally more prevalent.
- Use in Products: Both sweeteners are used in a variety of products, including beverages, baked goods, candies, and more.
- Combination Products: Some products, such as Truvia, combine erythritol and Stevia to balance out their properties.
In the sweetener showdown between erythritol and Stevia, the winner really comes down to personal preference. While they both offer a sugar-free sweetness, the differences in taste, digestive tolerance, and processing might make one a better choice for you than the other. The good news is, with either choice, you’re selecting a low-glycemic, zero-calorie alternative to traditional sugar. So consider your personal needs, taste preferences, and any dietary restrictions when choosing your sweetener. Whether it’s erythritol or Stevia, both bring a touch of sweetness to a healthier lifestyle.