What is Swerve and Should You Use It On Keto?
When you first get started with Keto, you might be disappointed to find you can’t use the sweeteners you’ve become accustomed to.
No more table sugar, honey, corn syrup or other old staples.
So, what do you do when your sweet tooth starts craving what you can’t have?
Well, thankfully you can still enjoy some treats – just use Keto-friendly sweeteners to make them. Luckily, there are plenty of these available, and one of the most popular choices is Swerve.
What is Swerve?
Swerve is a brand of sweetener that is popping up on grocery shelves all over the place. It has qualities that appeal to people who have a taste for sweet things but are counting carbs or watching their blood sugar levels.
It is a zero-calorie sweetener made from a few ingredients you may never have heard about, but the good news is – they’re Keto-friendly.
Swerve can be found in several forms, including granular, powdered and a variety similar to brown sugar. Certified Primal Health Coach Shelley Barker, says, “My recent favorite discovery is a powdered form…by Swerve. It makes amazing butter cream frosting by just adding butter and cocoa or whatever you want.” Hear more from Andress Blackwell, founder of Swerve!
What Are the Ingredients in Swerve?
When you read the list of ingredients on the Swerve package, you might scratch your head when you encounter “erythritol”, “oligosaccharides” and “natural flavors”…
What are these and where do they come from?
- Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally 60-80% as sweet as sugar. It is originally derived from the starch of corn or wheat, but it undergoes quite a bit of processing to get to the form you find on the grocery store shelf. The starch is broken down into glucose, which is fermented, heated, dried, and purified in order to form these sweet crystals.
- Oligosaccharides are a kind of carbohydrates that come from root vegetables and fruits. They cannot be digested so they pass through the digestive tract and become prebiotics – food for the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut.
- The ingredient listing of Natural Flavors here is a bit vague. “Natural flavors”, according to the FDA, can include any flavor isolated from a natural source, such as plants. There is no guarantee these flavors are safe or healthy. Swerve does not disclose what exactly their natural flavors are made from (nor do many other companies), but we’re pretty sure the natural flavors won’t kick you out of ketosis.
Does Swerve Have Any Health Benefits?
There are some real advantages to eating Swerve and the ingredients it contains.
- People using erythritol as their sweetener of choice have been shown to exhibit stable blood sugar levels when using it. (1, 2) This makes Swerve a good choice not just for people on a Keto diet, but also for people who have been told they have high blood sugar.
- Erythritol is also beneficial to oral health. It helps to decrease the amount of plaque present in the mouth and it stunts the growth of bacteria. (3)
- Erythritol has antioxidant properties that can help prevent the vascular damage that leads to cardiovascular disease. (4) Dr. Marcia J. Egles, M.D. states, “The additional benefits of erythritol as an antioxidant with protective effects to blood vessels may be clinically useful especially to those with diabetes.”
- Oligosaccharides help with the absorption of calcium for strong teeth and bones. (5)
- Oligosaccharides and other prebiotics have been found to reduce the inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease. (6)
- To maintain a healthy gut, it’s important to eat indigestible fibers. Oligosaccharides have been shown to be beneficial to gut health by maintaining the stability of the ecosystem in the intestines. (7)
Is Swerve Safe to Eat?
People are becoming more aware of what they are eating and drinking, and are finding it important to educate themselves on ingredients.
Due to the risks associated with some artificial sweeteners, many people are apprehensive when it comes to consuming anything unusual. And while Swerve is increasingly popular, it’s still relatively new.
Let’s delve a bit deeper and determine whether the ingredients in Swerve are safe to eat, or if they should be cause for concern.
Erythritol has been researched to verify that it is non-toxic. In one study it was given to people in high dosages for 7 days. Participants tolerated it extremely well with very few side effects. (8)
There have been numerous animal studies testing for the safety of erythritol as well, using dogs, mice, and rats as subjects. These studies and along with the few human studies that have been done provide evidence that erythritol is safe to consume. (9)
Sugar alcohols are known to cause digestive trouble, especially when consumed at high doses. Erythritol causes fewer problems than other popular sugar alcohols and is well tolerated up to a dose of about 50g. (10, 11)
Oligosaccharides have also been deemed as safe, with the only negative impact from them being intestinal upset when consumed in large amounts. (12)
There are some professionals who urge caution with Swerve and other sugar substitutes. Registered Dietician Trinh Le, MPH, R.D. says, “If you have a sensitive stomach, an erythritol-oligosaccharide blend may not be for you. Sugar alcohols are known to cause gas, bloating and diarrhea when eaten in large quantities, especially for people who are sensitive to them. The same can be said for certain oligosaccharides.”
Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. advises people to stay away from artificial sweeteners altogether. He says, “Eating a whole-foods diet that has a low-glycemic load and is rich in phytonutrients and indulging in a few real sweet treats once in a while is a better alternative than tricking your body with artificial sweeteners, which leads to wide scale metabolic rebellion and obesity.”
Is Swerve Keto?
We’ll keep this very short and sweet…
Yes, Swerve is Keto-friendly.
By using Swerve as a part of your Keto diet, you can help to eliminate some of the cravings for non-Keto friendly treats full of sugar and junk.
How to Use Swerve
Swerve can be used to sweeten drinks and smoothies, baked goods, and anything else you would traditionally use sugar to sweeten.
No need to break out the calculator to figure out how much you need to use because Swerve works using a straight cup-for-cup substitution for sugar. You don’t have to adjust cooking temperatures when using Swerve, and it can caramelize nicely, like sugar.
Here are a few recipes so you can take full advantage of Swerve:
This Blueberry Ginger Smoothie is a refreshing and nutritious drink bursting with the myriad health benefits that come with blueberries and ginger. The recipe calls for stevia, but you can easily use Swerve instead.
Or try these fabulous Keto Chocolate Glazed Donuts. These indulgent treats will satisfy your sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar. The recipe calls with erythritol, but you can easily use Swerve instead.
There are many more delicious Keto dessert recipes you can make using Swerve. All of them are fully compliant with a Keto diet and taste great too.
You Don’t Need To Give Up Sweet Treats…
A Ketogenic diet doesn’t have to mean no more sweet treats, it just means you need to go about having those treats in a different way.
Swerve is a wonderful alternative to sugar and makes a safe and satisfying sweetener to use in moderation on a Ketogenic diet so you can still hit your macros without feeling deprived.
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