Is erythritol harmful? What a dietitian says the new data means for your keto diet

While sugar substitutes have been around for over a century, they didn’t become mainstream here in the United States until about the mid-1970s. According to Caroline De La Pena, Professor of American Studies at the University of California, Davis and author of Empty pleasures: The story of artificial sweeteners from saccharin to SplendaBetween 1975 and 1984, Americans increased their consumption of artificial sweeteners by 150 percent. This timeline makes sense when you consider that the late 1970s coincided with the beginning of our crazy diet culture and revolving door of fad diets.

However, one such diet that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere is the keto diet. Still very popular among Americans trying to drop a few pounds, Keto puts a heavy emphasis on limited or no carbs. Since sugar contains carbs, keto followers have turned to artificial sweeteners to satiate those late-night cravings — sweeteners that most often contain erythritol. Erythritol in particular has become hugely popular because it’s so much better for baking than other sugar alternatives, has less artificial flavor, and will keep food in ketosis, which is key to weight loss on the keto diet.

A new study made waves recently because its findings suggest a link between erythritol and higher rates of heart attack and stroke (although the study notes that only an association was found — not causation. Should you worry?

We asked Dan LeMoine, RD, award-winning author Fear is not food and Clinical Director in Phoenix Answer: Activate NutritionWhat it said about erythritol, including its potential health benefits and risks. “Artificial sweeteners are still sweeteners. While many of them are not as nutritious or calorie-free, we tend to view them similarly as we do regular sweeteners or sugars — moderation is key. While many of them have amazing effects on weight loss — being Options that are low or no calories and have little effect on blood sugar, some have a downside“,” He says.

Alexander Gray/Unsplash

While some sugar substitutes have been beneficial for waistlines and the health problems that come from obesity, they seem to be causing more and more anxiety when it comes to other possible health problems. “For example, some research suggests that the popular stevia sweetener may have negative effects on the gut microbiome,” says LeMoine. “The most recent study showed an association between sugar, alcohol, erythritol, and heart attack and stroke.”

Of course, as with most things, moderation is key to a healthy lifestyle. “If you enjoy erythritol occasionally and don’t have any underlying conditions, you’re probably fine to continue using erythritol to satiate your sweet tooth from time to time,” says LeMoine. “On the other hand, if you have a history of blood clots or stroke, and you use erythritol daily, it might not be a bad idea to find an alternative because the study indicated an increase in potential clotting risks among those with higher amounts of erythritol in their blood.” .

Of course, food cravings are often our body’s way of telling us we’re lacking in a certain mineral or micronutrient. When we find ourselves craving sugar, it could mean that our bodies need micronutrients like chromium, tryptophan, or phosphorous. Of course, it can be found in natural ingredients such as fatty fish, eggs, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and grapes. If we regularly eat a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet, our sugar cravings should subside.

However, at the end of the day, we’re human, and the craving for sweet, savory, and sugary sweets is real—especially when sticking to a stricter diet like keto. LeMoine wisely advises, “When it comes to sweeteners of any kind (artificial or not), our party line tends to be: ‘treats like treats.'” Which means, of course, that it’s totally fine to indulge once in a while, but For the most part, banish those sugar cravings with a trip to the fruit bowl, not candy, or, in this case, the “sugar-free” aisle.

Editors’ recommendations