Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably seen the recent avalanche of articles linking sugar to some of today’s biggest health problems, like:
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that clever food techies and scientists have been busy exploring ways to replace the added sugar in our food with healthy, natural, no-calorie alternatives. That means we can all continue to enjoy the food and drinks we love without the negative health impacts.
And one of those healthy, natural, no-calorie sweeteners they’ve discovered is old mate erythritol. But what is exactly is this stuff? And what is erythritol made from?
Let’s take a look.
What is erythritol?
Erythritol is a type of natural, no-calorie sweetener known as a sugar alcohol or polyol.
A sugar what? Yup, a sugar alcohol.
But don’t let that name fool you. Erythritol is a compound with a chemical makeup that’s sort of like sugar and sort of like alcohol (although it’s not ethanol, so there’s no alcoholic buzz). But it’s also something that’s completely unique from both of them!
You can find erythritol naturally (and abundantly!) in some fruits and veggies, including:
It also occurs naturally in some fermented food and drinks, like:
And it’s used in a bunch of products (like Nexba’s drinks!) as a healthy sugar alternative. Why? Because it gives a tasty, sweet hit without bringing in a bunch of unwanted health impacts.
The history of erythritol
Back in 1848, the super-smart Scottish chemist John Stenhouse first discovered erythritol in his lab. And it popped up again in 1950, when food scientists found it in blackstrap molasses.
But it took more than 100 years from erythritol’s first discovery for anyone to use it as a sugar replacement in food and drinks. And the first ones to really turn it into a commercially popular option were food techies in Japan.