|Systematic IUPAC name
(2R,3S)-Butane-1,2,3,4-tetraol (not recommended)
3D model (JSmol)
|E number||E968 (glazing agents, ...)|
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
|Molar mass||122.120 g·mol−1|
|Melting point||121 °C (250 °F; 394 K)|
|Boiling point||329 to 331 °C (624 to 628 °F; 602 to 604 K)|
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
|what is ?)(|
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol (or polyol) food additive. It was discovered in 1848 by Scottish chemist John Stenhouse. Erythritol was first isolated in 1852. In 1950 it was found in blackstrap molasses that was fermented by yeast, and it became commercialized as a sugar alcohol in the 1990s in Japan.
It occurs naturally in some fruit and fermented foods. At the industrial level, it is produced from glucose by fermentation with a yeast, Moniliella pollinis. Erythritol is 60–70% as sweet as sucrose (table sugar) yet it is almost noncaloric, does not affect blood sugar, does not cause tooth decay, and is partially absorbed by the body, excreted in urine and feces. Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling requirements, it has a caloric value of 0.2 kilocalories per gram (95% less than sugar and other carbohydrates), though nutritional labeling varies from country to country. Some countries, such as Japan and the United States, label it as zero-calorie; the European Union labels it 0 kcal/g.
In the body, most erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine, and then for the most part excreted unchanged in the urine. About 10% enters the colon. Because 90% of erythritol is absorbed before it enters the large intestine, it does not normally cause laxative effects, as are often experienced after consumption of other sugar alcohols (such as xylitol and maltitol), although large doses can cause nausea and stomach rumbling. In males, doses greater than 0.66 g/kg body weight and in females, doses greater than 0.8 g/kg body weight, will cause laxation.
Blood sugar and insulin levels
The known side effects for the regular use of erythritol are stomach rumbling, nausea, and diarrhea in higher doses (over 50 grams (1.8 oz)). Rarely, erythritol can cause allergic hives (urticaria).
When compared with other sugar alcohols, it is also much more difficult for intestinal bacteria to digest, so it is less likely to cause gas or bloating than other polyols, such as maltitol, sorbitol, or lactitol. Erythritol absorption is not affected by glucose levels, and therefore has great potential to be an effective substitute for sugar in diabetics.
According to a 2014 study, erythritol functions as an insecticide toxic to the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, impairing motor ability and reducing longevity even when nutritive sugars were available.
Erythritol is produced industrially beginning with enzymatic hydrolysis of the starch from corn to generate glucose. Glucose is then fermented with yeast or another fungus to produce erythritol. Other methods such as electrochemical synthesis are in development. A genetically engineered mutant form of Yarrowia lipolytica, a yeast, has been optimized for erythritol production by fermentation, using glycerol as a carbon source and high osmotic pressure to increase yields up to 62%.
The US FDA has not made its own determination regarding the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status of erythritol, but has accepted the conclusion that erythritol is GRAS as submitted to it by several food manufacturers.
Heat of solution
Erythritol has a strong cooling effect (endothermic, or positive heat of solution) when it dissolves in water, which is often compared with the cooling effect of mint flavors. The cooling effect is present only when erythritol is not already dissolved in water, a situation that might be experienced in an erythritol-sweetened frosting, chocolate bar, chewing gum, or hard candy. The cooling effect of erythritol is very similar to that of xylitol and among the strongest cooling effects of all sugar alcohols. Erythritol has a pKa of 13.903 at 18˚C.
Blending for sugar-like properties
Erythritol is commonly used as a medium in which to deliver high-intensity sweeteners, especially stevia derivatives, serving the dual function of providing both bulk and a flavor similar to that of table sugar. Diet beverages made with this blend thus contain erythritol in addition to the main sweetener. Beyond high-intensity sweeteners, erythritol is often paired with other bulky ingredients that exhibit sugar-like characteristics to better mimic the texture and mouthfeel of sucrose. The cooling effect of erythritol is rarely desired, hence other ingredients are chosen to dilute or negate that effect. Erythritol also has a propensity to crystallize and is not as soluble as sucrose, so ingredients may also be chosen to help negate this disadvantage. Furthermore, erythritol is not hygroscopic, meaning it does not attract moisture, which can lead to the drying out of products, in particular baked goods, if another hygroscopic ingredient is not used in the formulation.
Inulin is often combined with erythritol because of inulin's offering a complementary negative heat of solution (exothermic, or warming effect when dissolved, which helps cancel erythritol's cooling effect) and noncrystallizing properties. However, inulin has a propensity to cause gas and bloating in those having consumed it in moderate to large quantities, in particular in individuals unaccustomed to it. Other sugar alcohols are sometimes used with erythritol, in particular isomalt, because of its minimally positive heat of solution, and glycerin, which has a negative heat of solution, moderate hygroscopicity, and noncrystallizing liquid form.
Erythritol is tooth-friendly; it cannot be metabolized by oral bacteria, so it does not contribute to tooth decay. In addition, erythritol, similarly to xylitol, has antibacterial effects against streptococci bacteria, reduces dental plaque, and may be protective against tooth decay.
Erythritol is preferentially used by the Brucella bacteria spp. The presence of erythritol in the placentas of goats, cattle, and pigs has been proposed as an explanation for the accumulation of Brucella bacteria found at these sites.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, several synonyms were in use for erythritol: erythrol, erythrite, erythoglucin, eryglucin, erythromannite and phycite. Zerose is a tradename for erythritol.
- The discovery of erythritol, which Stenhouse called "erythroglucin", was announced in: Stenhouse, J. (January 1, 1848). "Examination of the proximate principles of some of the lichens". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 138: 63–89, see especially p. 76. doi:10.1098/rstl.1848.0004.
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European Commission Directive 2008/100/EC changed the energy conversion values of erythritol to zero calories:
- Erythritol is a polyol, and according to the current rules as provided for in Article 5(1) of Directive 90/496/EEC, its energy would be calculated using the conversion factor for polyols, namely 10 kJ/g (2,4 kcal/g). Using this energy conversion factor would not fully inform the consumer about the reduced energy value of a product achieved by the use of erythritol in its manufacture. The Scientific Committee on Food in its opinion on erythritol, expressed on March 5, 2003, noted that the energy provided by erythritol was less than 0,9 kJ/g (less than 0,2 kcal/g). Therefore it is appropriate to adopt a suitable energy conversion factor for erythritol. Current regulations (Reg. (EC) 1169/2011) preserve this conversion factor at 0 kcal/g for energy value calculation purposes.
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- Hart, Edward (1892). "A list of words whose use should be avoided in favor of the accompanying synonyms". Journal of Analytical and Applied Chemistry. 6: 160.
- "Cargill unveils new products featuring Zerose natural sweetener". New Hope Network. 9 March 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
- Media related to Erythritol at Wikimedia Commons