There are quite a few options for sugar-free, low carb sweeteners in stores today. Here are our top 4 favs:
Not all low-carb sweeteners are the same! Each has a unique chemical makeup that can vary from dessert to dessert. Each has a different effect on baked goods: some have a bit of an aftertaste when mixed with chocolate, some help make cookies crispy...the list goes on. Let's go into depth a little more.
Allulose is classified as a 'rare sugar', because it's naturally found in small amounts in a few foods, including figs, raisins, molasses, & maple syrup. Because it isn’t metabolized by the body, it does not raise blood sugar, or insulin levels.
It actually has the same chemical formula as fructose, but it is arranged differently. This difference in structure prevents your body from processing allulose the way it processes fructose.
Although 70 – 84% of the allulose you consume is absorbed into your blood from your digestive tract, it is eliminated in the urine without being used as fuel. It also provides only 0.2–0.4 calories per gram, or about 1/10 the calories of regular sugar – WOW!
In addition, research suggests that allulose has anti-inflammatory properties, & may help prevent obesity & reduce the risk of chronic disease!
Erythritol belongs to a class of compounds called sugar alcohols. Food producers use a ton of different sugar alcohols. These include xylitol, sorbitol and maltitol. Most of them function as low-calorie sweeteners in sugar-free or low-sugar products. Most sugar alcohols are found in small amounts in nature, especially in fruits and vegetables.
It’s crazy the way sugar alcohols work – the way these molecules are structured gives them the ability to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on your tongue. Science! Erythritol appears to be quite different from the other sugar alcohols.
To begin with, it contains much fewer calories:
Table sugar: 4 calories per gram
Xylitol: 2.4 calories per gram
Erythritol: 0.24 calories per gram
With only 6% of the calories of sugar, it still contains 70% of the sweetness. Erythritol is probably the most popular sugar alcohol in the market today, with a GI of just 1. It’s also the sweetener that behaves most like sugar for crisp baked goods. Its aftertaste is quite pleasant. We use erythritol blends quite often in our goodies!
Monkfruit gets its name from actual monks – it cultivated by Buddhist monks over a thousand years ago, and it’s also a zero glycemic sweetener like stevia (AKA it won't raise blood sugar). We love that it’s natural, contains zero calories and is 100–250 times sweeter than sugar. It is also thought to have antioxidant properties.
Monk fruit contains natural sugars, mainly fructose and glucose. However, unlike most fruits, the natural sugars in monk fruit aren’t responsible for its sweetness. It actually gets its intense sweetness from unique antioxidants called mogrosides.
During processing, mogrosides are separated from the fresh-pressed juice. Which means, monk fruit sweetener does not contain fructose or glucose after the mogrosides are removed. Yassss! We typically use monkfruit blended with other sweeteners, as monkfruit sugars tend to leave an unpleasant aftertaste in our goods.
Xylitol is another naturally occurring sugar alcohol with a low GI of just 7 (still very low when you think sugar is 100). It's found in small traces of fruits, veggies, and people (we produce small quantities per metabolism)! Some people subtract its sugar alcohol carb count completely (like with erythritol), and others do half.
Xylitol looks and tastes like sugar but has fewer calories and doesn't raise blood sugar levels.
Several studies suggest that it has various important benefits, including improved dental health. It's categorized as a sugar alcohol (like erythritol). If you look at the ingredients on a pack of sugar-free chewing gum, you'll find xylitol as a listed ingredient.
Even though sugar alcohols are technically carbohydrates, most of them do not raise blood sugar levels and thereby don't count as net carbs, making them popular sweeteners in low-carb products. We love using xylitol in cookies for crispiness!
SUMMARY | Yes, it's true – researching low-carb sweeteners can be a bit overwhelming! But don't fret, we are always here to help answer any questions you may have. Thanks for reading!