Erythritol and stevia, both are low-calorie sweeteners used to lower sugar and calorie intake.
They are added to sweeten products such as coffee, tea, and baked goods without raising their calories.
Both, Erythritol and stevia, are very similar in their nutritional value and health benefits, still, there are a few differences.
What is Erythritol?
Erythritol, a low-calorie sweetener, is a type of sugar alcohol. It is found naturally in fruits and mushrooms and is also produced by fermenting simple sugars that are found in corn with yeast.(1) In the process, the good bacteria eat the starch and turn it into erythritol, and in the process, all sugar is removed.
Erythritol along with low calories has minimal glycemic impact and is a good choice for diabetics.
It can be purchased in the form of powder and can be used easily in baked goods, snacks, and beverages instead of sugar.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that is 200-400 times sweeter than sugar. It is obtained from a naturals source i.e. leaves of Stevia rabaudiana, a plant that is native to South America.
It is available in liquid, powder, and granulated form. It is used in place of regular sugar in various low-calorie products.(2)
Nutrients in Erythritol and Stevia
Both stevia and erythritol are low in calories and carbohydrates.
Erythritol: Erythritol contains just 5% of calories that sugar contains and that is approximately 0.2 grams. It has 60-80% sweetness compared to regular sugar.(1)
Stevia: Stevia is also known as a non-nutritive calorie-free sugar.(3) It contains several compounds present in stevia leaf and is 400 times sweeter than sugar. It may contain small amounts of vitamins and minerals that are also removed during the processing.
Both these sweeteners are used in small amounts in foods and can rarely provide any nutrition.
How Does Erythritol and Stevia Affect Blood Sugar?
Erythritol: Our body does not contain an enzyme to digest erythritol, which is therefore absorbed in the bloodstream and is excreted out through the urine.
An animal study showed erythritol to play a role in reducing the blood sugar level by decreasing sugar absorption in the blood by increasing the absorption of sugar by muscles and alter the enzyme activity.(5)
More human research is needed to know about its effect on humans.
Stevia: Stevia can be a good choice when compared with sugar for diabetics.
A study found that people who consumed stevia daily for 8 weeks had no effect on the fasting blood sugar, insulin level, or long-term blood sugar control.(6)
A review done in 2020 found stevia to reduce the blood sugar level by preventing the synthesis of glucose in the body.(7)
How are Erythritol and Stevia Used?
Erythritol: A low-calorie sugar, erythritol is used in many recipes including baked goods and beverages. It is mostly used in low-carb and ketogenic products such as granola bars, sugar-free gums, and candies.
Erythritol does not dissolve as well as regular sugar and therefore cannot be considered for recipes such as ice cream. Also, it is not as sweet as sugar and it needs to be added a little more to match the sweetness.
Stevia: Stevia is sweeter than sugar and is needed in lesser quantities. It can be added to coffee, tea, cereal, yogurt and smoothies.
Also, stevia is a slightly bitter, licorice-like after taste and might change the taste of the final product.
Side Effects of Erythritol and Stevia
Erythritol: Erythritol has very few side effects related, but consuming it in large amounts can lead to gas, diarrhea, and digestive issues in a few people.(1)
Stevia: According to the FDA, stevia is recognized as safe to be consumed as it is made from compounds extracted from the stevia plant and purified.(10)
Whole leaf stevia and crude stevia are not permitted to be consumed due to safety concerns regarding fertility and cancer development.(11)
Both these sugar substitutes have their benefits and shortcomings. You can choose the sweetener according to your choice and the product you are using it for.