CSPI has considered erythritol a safe low-calorie sweetener. However, we’re evaluating a new study that reported erythritol may raise the risk of blood clots. Until we know more, limit your intake of erythritol (which is in many sweetener products, as well as some low-sugar ice creams, desserts, bars, drinks, etc.). Stay tuned for updates to this page.
Low calorie sugar-free sweetener: Drinks, hard candy, chocolate milk, frozen desserts, baked goods, packaged sweeteners (sometimes mixed with stevia leaf extract, monk fruit extract, or other sweeteners).
This sugar alcohol, which was first used commercially in the United States in about 2001, is about 60 to 70 percent as sweet as sugar, but provides at most only one-twentieth as many calories. Small amounts occur naturally in such fruits as pears, melons, and grapes, but virtually all of the erythritol used as a food additive is produced by fermenting glucose with various yeasts. Many companies mix it with high-potency sweeteners, such as stevia leaf extract or monk fruit extract, to keep the calories down while masking those other sweeteners’ unpleasant aftertastes. Companies also value erythritol because it provides the bulk that sugar has and which high-potency sweeteners lack, plus it adds to the "mouthfeel" of low-sugar beverages. Because it is not digested by bacteria, it does not promote tooth decay.
Other than occasional allergic reactions, the only safety concern about erythritol is that eating too much of it could cause nausea. Individual sensitivities vary greatly, but most adults can safely consume up to about 50 grams of erythritol per day. (For comparison, there are 12 grams in Blue Sky Zero Cola, 4 grams of erythritol in a 12-ounce can of Zevia soda. and 3 grams of erythritol in a packet of Truvia.) That's safer than most other sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, mannitol, and lactitol. Erythritol's relative safety is due to its being mostly absorbed into the bloodstream and excreted unchanged in urine. Other sugar alcohols stir up trouble in the colon where they attract water (leading to laxation or diarrhea) or are digested by bacteria (causing gas).