Erythritol and stevia are popular low calorie sweeteners that many people use to help reduce their intake of sugar and calories.
You can use either product to add a touch of sweetness to everything from tea and coffee to baked goods and beyond — without the calories sugar brings.
Although these two ingredients share several similarities in terms of their nutritional value, health benefits, and potential uses, there are many differences between them.
This article takes a closer look at how erythritol and stevia compare to help you determine which is better for your needs.
Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol often added to foods as a low calorie sweetener.
You can purchase erythritol powder and use it in place of sugar when preparing your favorite baked goods, snacks, and beverages.
On the other hand, stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana, a plant native to certain parts of South America.
It’s often used as an alternative to regular sugar and can be found in many low calorie products (
Although stevia is widely available in powdered form, many varieties are made from rebaudioside A, a highly concentrated compound extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. Those varieties are often blended with other sweeteners, including erythritol.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in many foods and produced from the simple sugars in corn. Meanwhile, stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana.
Both erythritol and stevia are significantly lower in calories and carbohydrates than regular sugar.
For reference, table sugar contains approximately 4 calories per gram.
Similarly, stevia is considered a nonnutritive sweetener, meaning it’s virtually calorie-free (
Stevia extracts may contain several different compounds extracted from the stevia leaf, which can be anywhere from 50–400 times as sweet as regular sugar (
Additionally, because both sweeteners are only used in small amounts, they are unlikely to contribute many nutrients to your diet.
Erythritol contains 0.2 calories per gram and is 60–80% as sweet as sugar. Stevia is calorie-free and can be 50–400 times as sweet as sugar, depending on the specific compounds it contains.
Your body doesn’t have the enzymes that are required to digest erythritol. Instead, the sweetener is mostly absorbed in the bloodstream and excreted through urine unchanged (
One 2018 animal study showed that erythritol may even reduce blood sugar levels by decreasing the absorption of sugar in the blood, increasing the uptake of sugar by the muscles, and altering the activity of several enzymes involved in blood sugar control (
Still, more research in humans is needed.
Stevia may be a good choice for people with diabetes because it doesn’t increase blood sugar levels the same way that sugar does.
According to a 2020 study among 34 people with type 2 diabetes, drinking 1 cup (237 mL) of tea sweetened with stevia daily for 8 weeks had no effect on fasting blood sugar levels, insulin levels, or long-term blood sugar control (
Conversely, another 2020 review reported that stevia may actually reduce blood sugar levels by preventing the synthesis of glucose in the body (
What’s more, some studies suggest that stevia may help decrease triglyceride, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. However, research is inconsistent (
Neither erythritol nor stevia cause blood sugar levels to rise. Some studies suggest that stevia may help lower blood sugar levels, but more research is needed.
Stevia is significantly sweeter than sugar, so it’s used in very small amounts.
It’s widely available in powder or liquid form and can be added to coffee or tea or sprinkled over cereal, yogurt, or smoothie bowls.
It can also be used in many baked goods. However, note that you may need to adjust your recipe to account for the extra sweetness.
Additionally, stevia has a slightly bitter, licorice-like aftertaste that may change the flavor of your final product.
Erythritol can also be used as a low calorie substitute for sugar in many recipes, including beverages and baked goods.
It’s frequently featured in low carb or ketogenic products, such as sugar-free candies, gum, and granola bars.
Keep in mind that erythritol doesn’t dissolve as well as regular sugar and can crystallize, which may not be suitable when making certain dishes at home, such as ice cream.
Additionally, because it’s not quite as sweet as sugar, use slightly more in your recipes by swapping it in for sugar at a 1.25-to-1 ratio.
Stevia and erythritol can be used in place of sugar in many recipes. However, you may need to adjust the amount that you use to account for the varying levels of sweetness.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), steviol glycosides are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). These sweeteners are made from compounds that have been extracted from the stevia plant and purified (
However, whole-leaf stevia and crude stevia extracts are not permitted for use as sweeteners and have been linked to safety concerns regarding fertility and cancer development in some animal studies (
Whole-leaf stevia is made from the entire leaf of the stevia plant. Meanwhile, crude stevia extracts are compounds extracted from the plant that have not been purified.
Because these sweeteners aren’t permitted for use by the FDA, the types of stevia found at grocery stores or in processed food products all contain steviol glycosides.
On the other hand, the FDA has not designated erythritol as GRAS.
However, when a food manufacturer asked the FDA to affirm that erythritol is GRAS in 2018, the agency responded that it had “no questions” regarding the validity of this claim (
Erythritol is associated with very few side effects, but consuming high amounts could cause digestive issues like gas and diarrhea for some people (
Stevia is also well tolerated by most people. However, keep in mind that many stevia products are blended with other sweeteners, including sugar alcohols, which could also cause digestive issues like gas and bloating (
Certain brands of stevia may also contain sweeteners like dextrose or maltodextrin, which can increase blood sugar levels (
Some animal studies show that nonnutritive sweeteners could negatively affect the health of the gut microbiome. However, other studies have found that stevia and erythritol have no significant effect on gut health (
Stevia and erythritol are generally well tolerated. However, high doses could cause digestive issues. More research is needed on the effects of nonnutritive sweeteners on gut health.
Erythritol and stevia are two excellent alternatives to sugar.
In fact, neither raise your blood sugar levels, and they may help decrease the number of calories you consume.
Erythritol is associated with minimal side effects and can be a great sugar substitute for many different recipes. However, it can crystallize and doesn’t dissolve as well as sugar, which may not make it a great fit for every dish.
Stevia is versatile and easy to use, but it has a bitter aftertaste that some people may not enjoy.
Certain types of stevia are blended with other ingredients, which may increase blood sugar levels or cause digestive issues for some people.
Therefore, which sweetener you choose depends on your personal preferences and what you’re using it for.
Both erythritol and stevia can be great alternatives to regular sugar. Which one you choose depends on your personal preferences and what you’re using it for.
Erythritol and stevia are two common sweeteners that may help you cut back on your sugar consumption.
Neither ingredient raises blood sugar, and they are associated with very few side effects.
They are both very versatile and can be easily swapped in for sugar in many different dishes and recipes.