Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally found in some fruits and fermented foods, including grapes, pears, and sake. It was first discovered in the 19th century by a Scottish chemist named John Stenhouse, who extracted it from the lichen Roccella tinctoria. However, it wasn't until the 1990s that erythritol began to be produced on a commercial scale through a fermentation process involving yeast. Today, it is commonly used as a sugar substitute in a variety of food products, including beverages, baked goods, and confectionery items.
One of the main reasons why erythritol has become popular as a sugar substitute is because it has a similar taste and texture to sugar, but with fewer calories. While sugar contains 4 calories per gram, erythritol only contains 0.2 calories per gram, making it a useful ingredient for people who are trying to reduce their calorie intake. Additionally, erythritol has a very low glycemic index, which means that it does not raise blood sugar levels as much as sugar does. This makes it a good option for people with diabetes or those who are trying to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Another benefit of erythritol is that it does not promote tooth decay. Unlike sugar, which can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth that can erode tooth enamel, erythritol does not provide a food source for these bacteria. This makes it a good choice for oral health, and it is often used in sugar-free gum and other oral care products. Overall, erythritol has become a popular sugar substitute due to its taste, low-calorie content, and beneficial health properties.