Bowl of erythritol sweetener

What is Erythritol and Is It Safe?

With sugar and its negative health effects increasingly coming into focus, alternative sweeteners are more popular than ever.

As such, you may have now heard of the sweetener erythritol and have questions about whether it’s safe, if it’s healthy, and more. Although it seems new, it’s actually been around for some time. In fact, it occurs naturally in some foods and has been in use as a sweetener since 1990.

What is erythritol?

Erythritol is what’s known as a sugar alcohol. These are compounds that chemically resemble sugar and alcohol (it’s worth noting they don’t contain any actual alcohol). They occur naturally in certain foods and come from plant products such as fruits and berries.

Sugar alcohols have a sweet taste and are lower in calories than regular sugar and as a result, are a popular ingredient in low-calorie and low-sugar foods. Other sugar alcohols you see on food labels include isomalt, xylitol, sorbitol, and maltitol.

Erythritol sets itself apart from other sugar alcohols due to its much lower calorie content. For example, erythritol contains only 0.24 calories per gram vs 2.4 calories per gram in xylitol, 2.6 calories per gram for sorbitol, and 4 calories per gram for sugar. Even with its tremendously lower calorie content, erythritol is nearly as sweet as sugar (around 70%) so it’s easy to understand its increasing popularity.

Is Erythritol Safe?

Generally, erythritol has been found to be safe to consume. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as it naturally occurs in foods like fruits and vegetables though in small amounts.

Although erythritol is safe to consume, certain populations will want to know exactly how it will interact with their bodies in a few key areas.

Erythritol and Gut Health

Erythritol is well-tolerated by healthy people with no existing digestive issues. However, those with IBS, SIBO, or who have had bad reactions may want to avoid erythritol as it can make symptoms worse.

Most sugar alcohols remain undigested until reaching the colon where they are fermented and release gases that cause bloating and discomfort. Unlike other sugar alcohols, erythritol doesn’t seem to have this effect. Instead, it mostly gets absorbed into the bloodstream before reaching the colon. After that, it mostly passes through the urine unchanged.

How Erythritol Metabolizes

When erythritol is consumed, around 90% enters the bloodstream and 10% makes its way to the intestines where some is excreted unchanged and some is digested by intestinal bacteria at the lower part of the large intestine, thereby generating short-chain fatty acids and other organic acids.

Erythritol and Blood-Glucose Levels

Erythritol has not been found to spike blood-glucose levels in healthy individuals or those with diabetes. Extremely small-scale studies found no negative effect in diabetic patients after ingesting erythritol one time in one study and consuming it regularly over the course of two weeks in a separate study.

Many sugar-free foods contain calories and carbohydrates from other sources so erythritol-sweetened foods should still be eaten with care.

Erythritol and Heart Health

small pilot study suggests erythritol might improve circulation by way of improving small-vessel endothelial function, especially for those with diabetes. The data also points to an ability to improve circulation by way of reducing arterial stiffness.

With these findings, erythritol might have a slightly positive effect on heart health.

*The linked study did not have a control group and further studies are needed to say whether this benefit is conclusive and not a result of outside factors like participants exercising more or eating better.

Erythritol and Dental Health

Erythritol, unlike sugar, doesn’t have any damaging effects on teeth and may even have a positive impact on dental health.

The reason this happens is that when sugar is consumed, the bacteria in the mouth feeds on it and release acids that damage tooth enamel. Studies have indicated that erythritol, on the other hand, may even suppress the growth of these bacteria directly. Studies have yet to show any definitive link between erythritol use and a decrease in tooth cavities though.

How Much Erythritol is Okay to Consume?

There are no official guidelines but people can generally tolerate 1 gram of erythritol per 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.

This means the average American man, weighing 90 kilograms (199 pounds) could safely tolerate 90 grams of erythritol per day while the average American woman weighing 77 kilograms (170 pounds) could tolerate 77 grams of erythritol.

How to Use Erythritol

You can generally use erythritol the same way you would use sugar; add it to your coffee or try using it in place of sugar in your baking. Keep in mind that erythritol is only about 70% as sweet as sugar. Recipes might need some adjustment and you may find the textures to be slightly different.

Bottom Line

Erythritol is an increasingly popular alternative sweetener that falls into the category of sugar alcohols. Its key benefits are that it’s been found to be safe for those with diabetes, is low in calories, and may even help with dental health. Those who already have gut health conditions like IBD, IBS or Crohn’s may still want to use it with caution.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as medical advice. If you have immediate concerns about your health, please seek the help of your physician. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

2022 Best in Nature Impact Report

Why do we use it?

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here’, making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for ‘lorem ipsum’ will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

Where does it come from?

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum” (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..”, comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

Picture of cosmetic products on a plain white table.

Shop Smarter: How to Find Non-Toxic Personal Care Products

We’re constantly shopping Natural, Organic, and Non-GMO when it comes to what we put in our bodies but what about the things we put on our bodies? Shampoos, makeup, moisturizer, nail polish; We’re often just covering ourselves in these without giving the ingredients much thought if any.

Are Toxic Cosmetics Something to Really Be Concerned About?

Put simply, yes. Recently, the independent laboratory, Valisure, analyzed a range of dry shampoo products. Among them, 70% contained benzene, with 11 samples exceeding the FDA allowable limit by 10 times leading to a recall. Benzene is so toxic though that it is dangerous in any amount.

If benzene, a banned substance, is in so many products, it may be time to rethink our personal care products and look for cleaner alternatives.


Top Tips for Avoiding Toxic Cosmetics

1. Use Online Tools to Make Better Buying Choices

Here are a few apps and buying guides to make the process a little easier.

Clearya is a Chrome extension and mobile app for android and ios. As you shop for personal care products on Amazon, Wal-Mart, Sephora, Target or iHerb’s websites, Clearya will alert you about ingredients of concern and help you find safer alternatives.

EWG’s Healthy Living App has been featured in the likes of TIME, Bloomberg, and Goop.  It allows you to scan bar codes and read ratings for more than 120,000 food and personal care products at the time of this writing.

ThinkDirty is an app that also lets you scan the bar code of a product in question to identify and learn more about questionable ingredients. Their website also offers a monthly subscription box of clean beauty products from brands they’ve verified.


Also, check out these buying guides from The Good Face Project


2. Think Simple

Look for products with shorter, more simple ingredient lists. A good sign is that ingredient names are easy to read. Avoid labels with catchall terms like “fragrance” or “parfum” which allow manufacturers to hide ingredients they don’t want to declare.

Remember, many cosmetics were found to have high levels of toxic ingredients that were never supposed to be there at all.


3. Beware of Buzzwords

Many of the terms that are supposed to provide assurance don’t have much substance to back them up. So you’ll want to do some digging and read through the individual ingredients.

Ironically, you can disregard terms like “non-toxic” “simple”  or “eco-friendly.” These are unregulated terms that won’t provide much insight into the actual contents of your cosmetics.

If the label says “Organic,” try to find out if the entire product has been certified organic or only some percentage of the ingredients.


4. Also on the Label

Look for official, third-party-regulated symbols rather than manufacturer symbols that are used for marketing purposes.

Third-party certifications that apply to cosmetics include the following: 



Made Safe Seal

MADE SAFE is a health and ecosystem-focused product certification program. It certifies that products have been screened against a database of toxins and harmful chemicals. They further analyze the ingredients for bioaccumulation, persistence, and aquatic toxicity.



EWG verified badge

EWG Verified is a stringent certification in which cosmetic products must score a “green” rating of 1 or 2 within the Skin Deep database. To achieve this verification, all ingredients including fragrances must be declared.



NPA certified seal

This certification, made specifically for personal care products, requires 95% of ingredients to be of natural origin. Products with this label also cannot contain ingredients with any suspected human health risks. This certification goes further to require no animal testing of products.


5. Consider Making Your Own Personal Care Products

Some personal care products are easy to make yourself with just a few ingredients. Many cultures have made their own for generations. Even though it’s a bit more work, it doesn’t have to be boring and tedious. Just like with canning, jarring and pickling, you can make it into a social event.

Learn how to make your own personal care products from Wellness Mama.


Ingredients to Avoid



Parabens are preservatives used in some cosmetics because they prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi and lengthen a product’s shelf life.

What makes them risky is that they can be absorbed through the skin and disrupt hormones. Further, parabens have been found in nearly all urine samples in studies of US adults. This has downstream environmental impacts because parabens have been detected in surface waters and only a small amount can harm coral and other marine life. Luckily, product makers are coming out with more paraben-free alternatives.



Phthalates are another type of preservative used in cosmetics that also have “plasticizing properties” such as making some nail polish less brittle.

What makes these chemicals particularly concerning is that they’re often not explicitly named on the ingredients list. Instead, they’re covered by the catchall term “fragrances.” Phthalates can possibly cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system.



Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent added to soaps and sanitizers. Its use in these products was banned in 2017 but it can still be found in products like toothpaste, or body wash. In animal studies, the chemical was found to be a hormone disruptor although further studies are needed to know how this would affect humans. Of further concern is how easily triclosan is absorbed into the body. In one study, 60% of human breast milk samples contained the chemical showing how easily absorbed and persistent it is. More information from the FDA on triclosan.


This short list represents some chemicals of concern found in many mainstream products. But there are many other chemicals of concern where the data isn’t as conclusive yet. For those, take a look at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ List of Chemicals of Concern.


Bottom Line

What you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it. The products we choose don’t just matter to us but to the environment because of bioaccumulation and persistence. Fortunately, there are many resources to help you buy better products or even make your own.