Future sugar substitute under revision

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Related tags: Nutrition, Xylitol

The next generation of low-calorie sugar substitute could be a
linear four-carbon sugar alcohol called erythritol, ...

The next generation of low-calorie sugar substitute could be a linear four-carbon sugar alcohol called erythritol, Nutrition Science News​ reports this month. The sugar substitute is intended for use in beverage and bakery products, candy, and chewing gum. According to a recent issue of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, toxicology studies show erythritol to be safe, as does a comprehensive review by William Berndt, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology. Most studies on erythritol were animal feeding experiments in which up to 20 per cent of the diet consisted of erythritol. Long-term feeding studies were used to determine carcinogenicity, and two-generation studies explored reproductive effects. Embryo, teratagenic, and mutgenic studies all examined different areas of concern. Every animal study found that erythritol was harmless. The only side effects occurred at very high doses and consisted of a slight laxative effect, decreased weight gain, increased water consumption, and increased urination. Human studies also found erythritol to be well tolerated and safe. Erythritol is well absorbed and is excreted unchanged in the urine, 90 per cent within 24 hours. Developed by Cerestar USA​, erythritol occurs naturally in alcoholic beverages, soy sauce, some fruits, and is also found in small amounts in human plasma. It is 60-80 per cent sweeter than sucrose and it is produced from corn or wheat starch by enzymatic hydrolysis yielding glucose, which is fermented by osmophilic yeast. Once erythritol is separated from the fermentation broth, it is purified to a crystalline product that is more than 99 per cent pure. In the near future Erythritol may become an effective sugar substitute for diabetics and for those who wish to control their weight.One entire issue of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology was devoted to 15 different studies evaluating the safety of erythritol. In his review, Berndt refers to these studies and others. Most were animal feeding experiments in which up to 20 percent of the diet consisted of erythritol. Long-term feeding studies were used to determine carcinogenicity, and two-generation studies explored reproductive effects. Embryo, teratagenic, and mutgenic studies all examined different areas of concern. Every animal study found that erythritol was harmless. The only side effects occurred at very high doses and consisted of a slight laxative effect, decreased weight gain, increased water consumption, and increased urination. In the near future Erythritol may be become an effective sugar substitute for diabetics and for those who wish to control their weight, the journal concludes.

Related topics: Science

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