Our Betta Sweet natural sweetener is a mixture of purified stevia extract and erythritol. I would like to describe what each ingredient is and why we use them.
Erythritol versus xylitol
We have been asked why we use erythritol and not xylitol when making our Betta Sweet. Erythritol and xylitol are both referred to as sugar alcohols.
That’s not alcohol in the drinking sense! The term ‘alcohol’ is used because they contain what are known as alcohol groups (OH).
You can see the similarity between glucose, erythritol and xylitol.
Both xylitol and erythritol exist in nature in a wide range of plants and are a part of the human diet. They are both used as low calorie substitutes for sugar. However, xylitol still has 65% of the calories of sugar whereas erythritol has less than 5% of the calories of sugar.
This means that compared to xylitol erythritol is a far more efficient and cost effective way to reduce calorie intake. Xylitol is simply an expensive way to consume calories.
Erythritol and xylitol cannot be an energy source for oral bacteria and so neither contributes to tooth decay.
Because sugar alcohols tend to be poorly absorbed in the intestines they can have a mild laxative effect for some people if consumed in excess. Xylitol is much more likely to have this effect than erythritol.
Manufacture of erythritol.
While erythritol exist in nature in a wide range of plants commercial production starts from glucose. Erythritol is made by a non-GMO yeast fermentation of glucose. Because the manufacturing process (fermentation) is a natural process erythritol is a natural product. All Hebe Botanical’s ingredients and products are non-GMO.
Because of erythritol’s superior performance and natural status we use it in our Betta Sweet.
Stevia extracts come in a wide range of purities. The purification of stevia (plant = Stevia rebaudiana) can be thought of as having two major steps. The first step is to separate the steviol glycosides (the sweet components of stevia) from all the other plant constituents, like chlorophyll.
The crudest stevia extracts still contain some plant chlorophyll and have a slight greenish appearance. These extracts invariably have an after-taste and only approximate the sweetness of sugar.
The second purification step is to separate the numerous steviol glycosides from each other. This is the tricky part. The sweetest steviol glycoside, and the one which also has no after-taste, is rebaudioside-A. On a weight-for-weight basis rebaudioside-A is approximately 400 times sweeter than sugar. Today a high quality stevia extract is synonymous with rebaudioside-A.
Rebaudioside-A is not only the sweetest component in stevia it also has no bitter after-taste. The after-taste that many people associate with stevia extracts is because the stevia has not been sufficiently purified. Our purification process involves filtration and repeated fractional crystallization using our certified organic alcohol. This produces the purest rebaudioside-A commercially available (by independent overseas analysis). No other stevia extract tastes as sweet as Betta Sweet.
And Betta Sweet has a zero glycemic index making it ideal for diabetics.
Dr Steve Humphries
Hebe Botanicals Ltd