What is the Difference Between Erythritol and Xylitol

The main difference between erythritol and xylitol is that erythritol contains 0.2 calories per gram whereas xylitol contains 2.4 calories per gram.

Erythritol and xylitol are two types of sugar alternatives suitable for a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Both are natural sweeteners that occur in fruits and plants.

Key Areas Covered

  1. What is Erythritol
    • Definition, Characteristics, Metabolism
  2. What is Xylitol
    • Definition, Characteristics, Metabolism
  3. Similarities Between Erythritol and xylitol
    • Outline of Common Features
  4. Difference Between Erythritol and xylitol
    • Comparison with Key Differences

Key Terms

Erythritol, Xylitol

Difference Between Erythritol and Xylitol - Comparison Summary

What is Erythritol

Erythritol is a food additive and sugar substitute. It is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol. It can be produced by corn by the use of enzymes and fermentation, but it naturally occurs in some fruits as well. C4H10O4 is the chemical formula of erythritol. Significantly, erythritol is 60–70% as sweet as sucrose. However, erythritol is completely noncaloric. Therefore, it does not affect blood sugar. In addition, erythritol plays no role in tooth decay.

Compare Erythritol and Xylitol - What's the difference?

Figure 1: Erythritol

Furthermore, the main function of erythritol in food is to serve as a sweetener or flavor enhancer. Erythritol occurs in coffee and tea, liquid dietary supplements, juice blends, soft drinks, and flavored water product variations. Food items including confections, biscuits and cookies, tabletop sweeteners, and sugar-free chewing gum also contain erythritol. During digestion, erythritol is rapidly absorbed into the blood. The peek amounts occur within 2 hours in the blood.  The absorption occurs in the small intestine and colon.

What is Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol with the chemical formula C5H12O5. It is a colorless or white crystalline solid that is soluble in water. It is also a food additive and sugar substitute. Replacing sugar with xylitol in food products may promote better dental health, but there is no evidence to prove that xylitol itself prevents dental cavities.

Erythritol vs Xylitol

Figure 2: Xylitol

Moreover, xylitol naturally occurs in small amounts in plums, strawberries, cauliflower, and pumpkin. Industrial production of xylitol starts with lignocellulosic biomass from which xylan is extracted; raw biomass materials include hardwoods, softwoods, and agricultural waste from processing maize, wheat, or rice. Xylan polymers can be hydrolyzed into xylose, which is catalytically hydrogenated into xylitol.

Similarities Between Erythritol and Xylitol

  • Erythritol and xylitol are two types of natural sweeteners that occur in fruits and plants.
  • They are used as lower calorie, natural sugar alternatives.
  • They are good for those trying to maintain their blood sugar levels.
  • Both are sugar alcohols: modified forms of sugar.
  • Foods containing erythritol and xylitol can be labeled “sugar-free.”
  • They do not trigger a spike in blood glucose as well as a response to insulin, which can cause diabetes and weight gain.
  • Moreover, both prevent the formation of cavities and plaque formation in teeth.

Difference Between Erythritol and Xylitol


Erythritol refers to a sweet substance extracted from certain lichens and algae while xylitol refers to sweet-tasting crystalline alcohol derived from xylose, present in some plant tissues and used as an artificial sweetener in foods.


Usually, erythritol is 70% sweet as sugar while xylitol is 100% sweet as sugar.


Erythritol contains 0.2 calories per gram whereas xylitol contains 2.4 calories per gram.

Chemical Formula

The chemical formula of erythritol is C4H10O4 while the chemical formula of xylitol is C5H12O5.


Erythritol has a better aftertaste while the aftertaste of xylitol is not as good as erythritol.

For People with Diabetes

Moreover, erythritol is the preferred substitute for sugar for people with diabetes while xylitol is a sugar alternative for a banting diet.

Digestive Stress

Erythritol causes less digestive stress while xylitol has gastrointestinal side effects from xylitol, such as gas, bloating and diarrhea, and digestive stress.


In brief, erythritol and xylitol are two types of sugar substitutes important in the food industry. They are sugar-free. Erythritol has fewer calories and sweetness when compared to xylitol. Thus, this is the main difference between erythritol and xylitol. In general, both are good for diabetes patients.

  1. Bonvissuto, D. (n.d.). Erythritol: Uses, benefits, and risks. WebMD. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  2. Xylitol: Overview, uses, side effects, precautions, interactions, dosing and reviews. WebMD. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
Image Courtesy:
  1. Erythrit” By Thomas Kniess– Own Work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
  2. Xylitol crystals” By Anders Østergaard Madsen, Denmark – Own Work (CC By-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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