How Safe Is Erythritol?

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Erythritol is touted as a zero-calorie sweetener. It is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in fruits such as watermelon, grapes, and pears, as well as in fermented foods such as soy sauce and cheese.

For those monitoring calories, it adds sweetness without cost to the diet. While erythritol is popping up in more and more foods, the public has not yet entirely made up its mind about it.

In this article, you'll find out what erythritol is, whether it is considered good or bad for you, how much you can safely have, and what you need to know to be a savvy consumer of this sweetener.

Packets of sweeteners on a table

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What Is Erythritol?

Erythritol is a carbohydrate classified as a sugar alcohol that occurs in tiny amounts in fruits, vegetables, and even human cells (produced by our metabolism). So, it is natural. It is not digested to be used for energy by the body. Rather, it is absorbed into the blood and excreted in the urine.

Erythritol is 70% as sweet as sucrose (table sugar). Since the amount of this sugar alcohol in sweeteners is 1,000 times greater than amounts found in nature, erythritol falls under the artificial sweetener umbrella. It is made commercially by a natural process of microbes such as yeast-fermenting corn.

Erythritol: Healthy, Unsafe, or Somewhere in Between?

Erythritol has some definite benefits to its use but also some drawbacks. If you're looking for a sugar substitute, you may wish to weigh the facts.

Research finds that erythritol may cause side effects, such as:

The link to cardiovascular events came to light in a study published in 2023. Study findings show that those with levels of erythritol in the top 25% range had twice the risk of cardiovascular issues as those in the lowest 25% range. Researchers think erythritol may increase the chances of blood clot formation. But further research is needed on this.

On the positive side, this sweetener can offer real benefits for dental health. It has proven effective at minimizing the development of cavities and keeping bacterial growth in the mouth low.

Erythritol also has the potential to benefit those with diabetes since some research shows it doesn't affect blood insulin or glucose levels the way sugar does. This makes it safer than table sugar (sucrose) for people with diabetes.

Research shows erythritol can reduce inflammation in the small intestine caused by eating a high-fat diet. Investigators found erythritol decreased the expression of genes causing inflammation in the small intestine. Erythritol reduced disorders such as glucose intolerance, obesity, abnormal blood fat levels, and fat accumulation in the liver.

It's easy to see why some people may be wild about erythritol while others are wary.

Daily Erythritol Dosage: How Much Can You Have?

Since erythritol can cause digestive side effects if you eat too much of it, it's important to know the accepted limits and then find out what yours are.

In general, it's OK to take in about 0.66 grams per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight a day for men and 0.80 g/kg of body weight a day for women. (Note that when research or health authorities are cited, the terms for sex or gender from the source are used). This would be 60 grams (2.1 ounces) for a 200-pound man and 54 grams (1.9 ounces) for a 150-pound woman.

But in some, doses as high as 1 g/kg of body weight per day can be consumed without digestive side effects. That would be 90 grams (3.2 ounces) for a 200-pound person, 68 grams (2.4 ounces) for a 150-pound person, and 54 grams (1.9 ounces) for a 120-pound person. All in all, it's a question of finding your limits.

Erythritol Substitutes to Try Instead

If erythritol does not agree with you, there are other sugar substitutes you can try, such as the following:

  • Saccharin, the first sugar substitute known as Sweet'N Low, has been around since 1879, before any kind of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval (which emerged in 1958) was needed.
  • Aspartame, sold under the brand name Equal, received approval in 1981.
  • Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), marketed under the name Sweet One, received FDA approval in 1988.
  • Sucralose, found in Splenda, has been around since its approval in 1998.
  • Neotame, known as Newtame, was approved for use in 2002.
  • Advantame received FDA approval in 2014.
  • Steviol glycoside comes from the leaves of the stevia plant.
  • Siraitia grosvenorii (monk fruit or Swingle fruit) sweetener is obtained from certain plants.
  • Thaumatin is taken from the katemfe fruit.

Keep in mind that the artificial sweetener Truvia contains both erythritol and stevia. Avoid Truvia if you have issues with erythritol. Consider taking a sweetener that contains just stevia since there are differences between these two.

Erythritol vs. Stevia

Stevia is made from the leaves of the stevia plant. Although erythritol can be found naturally, the levels are too low in fruits, and it is instead produced commercially by yeasts through fermentation. Stevia is about 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. But erythritol is a much milder sweetener that provides only about 60% to 80% of the sweetness you get with sugar.

Erythritol on Food Labels 

Finding sweeteners like erythritol on labels may require a little detective work. Rather than listing erythritol by name on the label, manufacturers usually use the broad term "sugar alcohol." Sugar alcohols are used in reduced-calorie foods like gum, cookies, cakes, candies, sweetened jellies and jams, pudding, and candies.

Remember, though, that erythritol is not the only sugar alcohol. Others include sorbitol, mannitol, lactitol, isomalt, xylitol, and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH).

Don't assume that because something is listed as "sugar-free" and contains sugar alcohol that it also is low in calories. It's possible for products containing sugar-alcohol substitutes to still have a large number of calories, fat, and carbohydrates.

To find out exactly what foods containing erythritol may be adding to your diet, check the nutritional facts label. It will break down the different components in the food, such as carbohydrates, cholesterol, and sodium.

Also, when looking for sugar amounts, remember to note the total carbohydrates, which will include sugar, sugar alcohols, and fiber. But do keep in mind that your body will only absorb about half of the sugar from most types of sugar alcohol. In figuring out the total amount of carbohydrates, such as when counting carbohydrates for diabetes management, you need to factor this in.


For those for whom sugar is currently not an option, the sweetener erythritol may be a viable alternative. It does occur naturally in some foods, but in such low amounts it must be artificially produced.

While it can offer benefits such as minimizing tooth decay and not affecting glucose or insulin levels, there's a potential downside as well. Erythritol has been linked to some heart issues. If too much is consumed, it can lead to digestive problems.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  5. Kawano R, Okamura T, Hashimoto Y, et al. Erythritol ameliorates small intestinal inflammation induced by high-fat diets and improves glucose tolerance. Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22(11):5558. doi:10.3390/ijms22115558

  6. Food and Drug Administration. How sweet it is: all about sugar substitutes.

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By Maxine Lipner
Maxine Lipner is a long-time health and medical writer with over 30 years of experience covering ophthalmology, oncology, and general health and wellness.