Just when I thought I had seen everything on the ‘healthy sugar substitute’ front, I stumbled upon Lakanto.
Lakanto was developed in 1996 by SARAYA Corporation, the Japanese leader in environmentally safe cleaning products made with coconut oil. In Japan, Lakanto is the number one sugar substitute and the third most popular sweetener.
According to its creators, Lakanto is the closest sugar substitute and, unlike stevia, it is great for baked goods and coffee and has no aftertaste. Lakanto has several health benefits, among them:
- Zero calories
- Zero glycaemic index – therefore no influence on blood sugar and insulin release
- Zero additives, colorants, preservatives;
- Tastes like sugar, smells like sugar, looks like sugar;
- 100% natural, vegan ingredients;
- Safe for diabetics, hypoglycemics, kids and overweight people;
- Does not feed harmful yeast (candida) and/or bacteria;
- Will not cause cavities or contribute to tooth decay;
- It does not promote aging and/or suppress the immune system;
- Easy to measure and use because it has a one-to-one ratio with sugar;
- Does not absorb moisture so won’t harden with age.
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? I thought so, so I set out to find the facts…
The Lakanto Formula: Lakanto is a proprietary blend of two natural ingredients: Luo Han Guo fruit extract and Erythritol. Luo Han Guo is the fruit of the Siraitia grosvenorii vine which is native to Northern Thailand and China. The fruit extract is 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a natural sweetener for nearly a millennium.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), luo ha guo has been used to treat constipation, diabetes, obesity, chronic cough, sore throat and heart stroke as well as to promote longevity (hence its nickname ‘The Longevity Fruit‘).
The sweet taste of the fruit comes from mogrosides, a type of glycoside – compounds reported to have strong antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, glucose-lowering, immune enhancing and Epstein-Barr virus inhibition properties.
Through a patented process, the SARAYA Corporation was the first company to integrate Luo Han Guo into a tabletop sweetener and, contrary to other Luo Han Guo based sweeteners, it does not have a bitter taste.
This is thanks to the Erythritol added to it. Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in grapes, pears, melons, mushrooms and fermented foods, such as wine, beer, cheese, and soy sauce. It is used in sugar-free gum, low-carb foods, diabetics foods and some stevia sweeteners contain erythritol.
Erythritol is approximately 70% as sweet as table sugar, it has zero glycaemic index, almost no calories and its taste is similar to sugar with no bitter aftertaste. This sugar alcohol won’t cause tooth decay, feed harmful yeast and/or affect blood sugar levels either.
Other common sugar alcohols are xylitol and sorbitol but the main difference between them and erythritol is that the latter is produced through a fermentation process and then purified. This considerably reduces the bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, digestive upset and borborygmi (intestinal rumbling) associated with sorbitol in particular.
The erythritol used by SARAYA corporation is derived by non-GMO certified corn, which makes it unsuitable for those with corn allergies. However, it is said not to cause any embarrassing digestive symptoms for the majority of people, provided the daily intake of erythritol remains below 80g per days. People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other digestive affections should probably avoid erythritol altogether as it could exacarbate their condition. Allergic side-effects include itching and hives.
In a nutshell we can say that Lakanto is as a very safe sugar substitute but it should be used with caution/moderation by those with sensitive digestive systems. It is still not widely know though, which means it is hard to come by – and considerably more expensive than other sweeteners!
But, personally speaking, even with all these properties, I still think Stevia is superior to Lakanto as it does not involve any fermentation.
Ishtar Magally Mobarak