Erythritol is the sole non-caloric bulk sweetener and since it occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables it has been consumed at low levels for as long as mankind has been eating such products.
Erythritol is a white, anhydrous, non-hygroscopic, crystalline substance available in powdered or granular form with a mild sweetness and similar appearance to sucrose.
Unlike other polyols, erythritol is non-caloric. This is a particularly useful beneﬁt for a bulk sugar replacer. Owing to its small molecular size, 90% of ingested erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine but while it is well absorbed, it is not metabolised in the body. The kidneys remove erythritol from the bloodstream and it is excreted unchanged in the urine. The small amount of erythritol not absorbed in the small intestine passes to the large intestine where it is excreted unchanged in the faeces. It is not fermented like other polyols so there is no caloric contribution from the absorption of fermentation by-products such as volatile fatty acids (VFA). Consequently, erythritol contributes no energy to the body (0 cal/g).
Since erythritol is not metabolised, it does not have any glycaemic or insulinaemic effect. This makes it a particularly useful sweetener for people wishing to reduce their post-prandial blood sugar levels.
Erythritol is a bulk sweetener, not an intense sweetener. As a bulk sweetener, erythritol provides volume, texture and microbiological stability similar to sucrose. Erythritol is 60–70% as sweet as sucrose, depending on the food or beverage formulation.