3 Keto-Friendly Sweeteners You Can Use to Make Dessert
These zero-calorie sweeteners are allowed on the keto diet.
The latest diet trend is the ketogenic diet, which is a high-fat, moderate protein and very low-carb diet. The purpose is to put your body in ketosis, so it uses ketone bodies produced from fat for fuel. In order to do this, you need to keep carbs very low, between five and 10 percent of total calories. This also means very few types of carbs are allowed — and absolutely no added sugar. So how do keto followers give some sweet flavor to their food? After all, keto-friendly desserts exist. Here’s a look at three keto-approved sweeteners that actually taste good.
Also known as lo han guo or Swingle fruit, monk fruit is a small round fruit that is native to China. To extract the sweetener, the seeds and skin of the fruit are removed and the fruit is then crushed to collect the juice. This sweetener has recently gained popularity because the extract contains no calories per serving. It is also 150 to 200 times sweeter than sugar. Monk fruit sweeteners are approved for use in food and beverages by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA since 2010.
Granulated monk fruit can be used in dressings and marinades, to sweeten beverages and smoothies, and in some baking recipes. If you want to use it in a specific baking recipe, test out a small amount first. It is usually swaped in a 1-to-1 ratio for sugar.
Several companies sell monk fruit sweeteners including:
- Lakanto Classic Monkfruit sells a granulated sweetener can be used as a one-to-one substitute for granulated sugar. They also sell maple and chocolate syrup made with monkfruit sweetener.
- Health Garden Monk Fruit Classic which combines monk fruit extract with erythritol and works well to replace brown sugar in many recipes.
- Monk Fruit In The Raw® sells larger bags and individual packets. The Bakers Bag contains 2 grams carbs per teaspoon while the individual packets contain 3 grams. The Bakers Bag can be used 1-to-1 with granulated sugar in recipes.
This sugar alcohol is unique from other sugar alcohols as it is free of calories. Erythritol is naturally found in small amounts in a variety of foods like pears, watermelon and mushrooms, and some fermented foods and drinks like cheese, soy sauce, beer and wine. It can also be commercially produced. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Department of Agriculture deemed erythritol as being safe for consumption in 1999 and 2001, respectively.
Erythritol is only 60- to 80-percent as sweet as sugar and is unique as other sugar alcohols have about 2 calories per gram while erythritol has zero. The sweetener is absorbed by the intestines, but excreted in the same form through the urine. Some people do experience side effects after consuming erythritol including gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhea.
Erythritol is sold by these companies:
- NOW Foods sells 1 and 2.5 pound bags of erythritol.
- So Nourished carries powdered and granulated erythritol that can be used in recipes and beverages.
- Swerve sells a variety of erythritol sweeteners including granular, confectioners’ and brown sugar – all which can be used in place of sugar in both cooking and baking.
The stevia plant is native to South America, which is now grown in numerous countries around the world including China, India, South Korea and Brazil. This sweetener is made from highly-purified steviol glycosides, which are extracted from the sweetest part of the stevia plant. Stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar.
In June 2008, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), a global panel of food ingredient safety experts, completed a multi-year review of the available scientific data on high purity steviol glycosides and concluded that they are safe for use as general purpose sweeteners.
You can find stevia sold in powdered form, in extracts, or blended with other sugar-free sweeteners like erythritol. The powdered stevia is much sweeter than sugar. For 1 cup of sugar you would only need about 1/2 teaspoon of stevia for the same level of sweetness. However, baking recipes rely on the not only sugar for the sweetness, but also for volume. That is why stevia blends exist; they're used to add volume to baking recipes.
You can purchase stevia in various form from the following:
- NOW Foods sells stevia-based sweeteners in various forms including an extract powder, BetterStevia® liquid (sold in plain and flavors like dark chocolate and French vanilla), and BetterStevia® individual packets and instant tabs.
- Truvia® sells stevia-based sweeteners in various forms including Natural Sweetener Packets, Spoonable (similar to a sugar bowl), Brown Sugar Blend, Cane Sugar Blend, and Nectar (mixed with honey).
- Organic Stevia In The Raw® sells individual packets of organic stevia extract combined with organic cane sugar for 3 calories per packet.
- Splenda® carries various stevia-based products including individual packets, granulated, brown sugar blend and sugar blend.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.