What is erythritol?
Despite its chemical-sounding name, erythritol is a 100% natural sweetener. In fact, erythritol occurs naturally in fruits – such as watermelon, grapes, peaches, pears, mushrooms – and fermented foods such as cheese, soy sauce, wine, etc. In addition, it is also produced to a small extent by our bodies themselves.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol (or polyol), but with an atypical profile compared to all other sugar alcohols such as maltitol, isomalt, xylitol, sorbitol, lactitol, etc.
Fact: Sugar alcohols actually have nothing to do with alcohol at all! They are called so because chemically the molecules are a little bit like sugar and a little bit like alcohol. Technically, they are just carbohydrates!
Sugar alcohols are often used as sugar substitutes because of their sweetness and taste. Yet they are not as sweet as sugar. For example, erythritol only achieves 70% of the sweetening power of sugar.
Erythritol is also quite unique from other sugar alcohols:
For example, it is the only sugar alcohol that does not have a laxative side effect, as it is 90% absorbed into your blood. It is then excreted back through your urine – unchanged – within 24 hours. The remaining 10% leaves your body undigested through the colon. This is why erythritol is considered the sugar alcohol with the highest degree of digestive tolerance. Indeed, studies show that intakes of 0.7 g per kilogram of body weight are readily digested.1
Because erythritol is not broken down or digested by the body, its caloric value is almost 0. This is also why erythritol does not cause insulin & blood sugar levels to spike like sugar. This also makes it extremely suitable for diabetics.
Finally, erythritol is molecularly very different from sugar. Therefore, erythritol may also behave differently in certain culinary applications. Consequently, it is sometimes difficult to replace sugar with just erythritol in your recipes.
Additional info can be found at: https://polyols.org/learn-the-label/erythritol/
Is erythritol safe for me?
Erythritol was first discovered in 1848. After discovering how to efficiently extract erythritol from fruits, it was then officially commercialized and used in culinary applications as a substitute for sugar in Japan in 1990.
Since then, more than 50 food safety organizations worldwide have recognized erythritol as a food that is safe for consumption. For the World Health Organization (WHO), its use is also so safe that it has not even been designated an “acceptable daily intake.
It is important to note that most food safety authorities approve foods only after several scientific studies unequivocally reach the same conclusion. This is similar to the conservative principle: “unsafe until proven safe,” and just as well!
We give you a quick overview of approvals by the main food safety organizations:
WHO (World Health Organization – Global):
- 1999: WHO/FAO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) evaluated the safety of erythritol in 1999 and established a “not specified” ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake), the highest possible safety category.
EFSA (European Food Safety Agency – EU):
- 2003: the European Union (EU) Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) concluded that erythritol is safe for use in food.
FDA (Food and Drug Administration – USA):
- 2001: Erythritol is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). This was based on the scientific procedures for food additives. It has been approved by the FDA and is used as a food additive in the USA.
There are also numerous scientific articles demonstrating the health benefits of using erythritol.
For example, studies in rats with diabetes have shown that erythritol acts as an antioxidant. This may reduce the damage to blood vessels caused by high blood sugar levels.2
In turn, another study in adults with type 2 diabetes showed that taking 36 grams of erythritol a day for a month improved the function of their blood vessels, possibly reducing their risk of heart disease.3
However, more studies are needed before statements can be made about the effective health relevance of these findings.
What is the controversy surrounding erythritol?
However, an article was published in Nature Medicine in February 2023 that caused a great deal of controversy and concern. This article was about the safety of erythritol consumption.4
The article and research come to the disturbing & contradictory finding that consumption of “artificial sweetener erythritol” may be linked to cardiovascular complications. (Note: erythritol is 100% natural as previously described).
Unfortunately, the response and reactions of experts, toxicologists & scientists has received less attention than the article itself.5 6
- For example, the authors themselves state that no causal relationship can be demonstrated. That is, it has not been shown that erythritol is the cause of increased risk of cardiovascular disease and therefore the results should not be extrapolated to the general population.
- The study does not distinguish between people at inherently increased risk of cardiovascular problems and those with pre-existing health problems. Indeed, the study participants were already at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Insufficient attention is paid to the global overview of diet and lifestyle, and its impact on cardiovascular health.
- The results contradict global regulatory & food safety approval for use in foods and beverages, and decades of safe use of low-calorie sweeteners such as erythritol.
- The amount of erythritol administered studied does not represent realistic consumption. For example, the article talks about an average intake of 30 g of erythritol per day. In fact, previous research shows that the average consumption is rather between 5 and 13 g of erythritol per day.7
Does Zùsto contain erythritol?
Like other sugar substitutes, Zùsto also contains the natural sweetener erythritol. Zusto, due its unique composition however, contains about 4 to 5 times less erythritol, compared to other sugar substitutes!
Zùsto consists of a meticulously selected blend of healthy dietary fibers. The mix is formulated to technically function like sugar, and to enhance and combine the health benefits of fibers. The main components – almost 70% – of Zùsto are therefore fibers and not sweeteners. As a result, erythritol is only used in a very limited amount to add additional sweetening power to the blend. Consequently, Zùsto contains much less erythritol compared to other sugar substitutes.
Is Zùsto safe to use?
As you can read, there are many contradictions in the media about erythritol. Therefore, it is quite normal to ask yourself if Zùsto is unhealthy or if Zùsto increases the risk of cardiovascular complications.
Fortunately, the answer is no!
Indeed, as you can read in this article, there is insufficient scientific evidence to conclude that erythritol would not be safe to consume and certainly not in limited amounts.
Consequently, Zùsto is therefore safe to use!
In addition, as we mentioned earlier, Zùsto contains 4 to 5 times less erythritol than other sugar substitutes. If you want to be careful not to consume too much erythritol, Zùsto is the safe choice.
Zùsto also consists of a balanced blend of almost 70% beneficial dietary fibers with proven health benefits. Thanks to this large amount of diverse dietary fibers, Zùsto has one of the healthiest and tastiest effects.
As an extra safety belt, and because of the balanced mix of various fibers, you get a satiated feeling faster, thus limiting excessive consumption, and thus also limiting the intake of erythritol. Zùsto therefore is a natural brake on overconsumption.
The selection, combination and proportions of the ingredients used, make Zùsto the tastiest, healthiest and most versatile sugar substitute!
Finally, we would also like to close this blog with the following quote:
“While the harms from sugar substitutes are still mostly theoretical, the harms of sugar are all too real.” – F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE, associate professor of medicine and director of Yale’s Clinical and Translational Research Accelerator.