Sugar alcohols, sometimes referred to as polyols, are sweeteners and bulking agents. They are found in foods naturally and are derived from plant products such as fruits and berries.
Do sugar alcohols occur naturally?
Sugar alcohols are a form of sweetener found in “sugar-free” foods. Chewing gum, sugar-free candies, biscuits, soft drinks, and other foods contain them. Sugar alcohols have half to one-third of the calories of sugar.
For instance, if a food label does not include sugar as an ingredient but contains 20 grams of sugar alcohol, the calories in around 10 grams of sugar are equal. If you’re counting carbs and the food has more than 5 grams of sugar alcohol, remove half of the sugar alcohol grams from the total carbohydrate grams. For example, if a product has 30 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of sugar alcohol, the total carbohydrate content is 26 grams.
Sugar alcohols are found in modest levels in plant foods such as berries and fruits. Erythritol, glycerol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates are all examples of sugar alcohols (HSH).
What is sugar alcohol made of?
When we go grocery shopping, many of us look for the healthiest snack, opting for items that are “sugar-free” or “no sugar added.” However, while looking at the back of the package, you’ll often see the word “sugar alcohol” mentioned as an ingredient. But what is sugar alcohol, exactly?
What is it?
Sugar alcohol is a low-calorie sweetener that can be found in chewing gums, protein bars, puddings, and other products. Despite the fact that “alcohol” is in the name, sugar alcohol does not include the ethanol present in alcoholic beverages.
While sugar alcohols are found naturally in some fruits and vegetables, the majority of sugar alcohols are manufactured industrially from other sugars, such as the glucose in cornstarch. Mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, and maltitol are examples of sugar alcohols.
What does it taste like?
Sugar alcohol, although being a carbohydrate, has a molecular structure that is comparable to sugar, allowing it to stimulate the sweet taste receptors on the tongue. Most sugar alcohols, on the other hand, are less sweet than sugar.
Is it good for you?
Sugar alcohol is becoming more popular as a sugar substitute due to the fact that it has fewer calories than sugar. Sugar alcohols, unlike sugar, do not induce tooth decay or create a spike in blood glucose levels.
Sugar alcohols, on the other hand, are poorly absorbed in the body and may even have a minor laxative impact if ingested in excess. It’s also vital to always read the nutrition facts on the label when choosing items containing low-calorie sweeteners. While something may have less sugar, it may still have a lot of carbohydrates, calories, and fat.
The main issue with sugar alcohols is that they can cause gastrointestinal adverse effects in people with and without digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), especially when ingested in excessive doses.
Because your body can’t digest most of them, they end up in your large intestine, where microorganisms in your stomach break them down.
As a result, consuming a large amount of sugar alcohols in a short period of time may cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Most people who ingest less than 10 grams of sorbitol, for example, will experience only minor digestive difficulties such as gas and bloating. However, consuming more than 20 grams can result in serious digestive problems, such as pain and diarrhea (2).
Other sugar alcohols, such as maltitol, can also cause symptoms, therefore it’s better to avoid them in excessive quantities (12, 20).
Furthermore, several sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol and mannitol, are classified as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols).
These are carbs that your gut struggles to absorb, which might cause gastrointestinal problems in certain people.
Sugar alcohols, with the exception of erythritol, should be avoided by people who are sensitive to FODMAPs. Erythritol is not a high FODMAP component and is generally well tolerated (21, 22).
Xylitol is toxic to dogs
When dogs eat xylitol, their bodies misinterpret it as sugar and produce a lot of insulin.
When insulin levels rise, the cells in dogs’ bodies begin to extract sugar from their bloodstream. Low blood sugar and other side effects are possible, including liver failure, which can be deadly (23).
This reaction appears to be exclusive to dogs, and xylitol appears to be the sole cause.
Dogs are poisoned by xylitol. If you have a dog, ensure sure xylitol is kept out of reach. This is not the case with other sugar alcohols.
Are sugar alcohols healthy?
When it comes to diabetes management, sugar alcohols can be a component of a healthy food plan. Sugar alcohols, unlike artificial sweeteners, are a type of carb that can boost blood sugar levels, though not as much as sugar.
In your total food plan, you’ll need to keep track of carbs and calories from sugar alcohols. Meals labeled “sugar free” or “no sugar added” may appear to be “free” foods that you can eat as much as you like, but consuming too much of these can cause dangerously high blood sugar levels.
Subtract half of the sugar alcohol grams from total carb grams if you’re counting carbs and the food includes more than 5 grams of sugar alcohols. Do the following calculations if the label says “Total Carbohydrate 25 g” and “Sugar Alcohol 10 g”:
With one exception: if erythritol is the sole sugar alcohol listed, Total Carbohydrate should be reduced by the amount of sugar alcohol listed.
If you need assistance making a food plan or controlling carbs, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist.
Is stevia a sugar alcohol?
Sugar alcohols and high intensity sweeteners are the two main types of sugar replacements. Sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, mannitol, erythritol, and maltitol are sugar alcohols. Saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, neotame, advantame, stevia, and Siraitia grosvenorii Swingle fruit extract are all high-intensity sweeteners (SGFE).
Is sugar alcohol healthier than sugar?
Sugar and sugar alcohols are sweet-tasting carbohydrates with chemical structures that differ significantly.
Sugar alcohols are often less sweet than sugar and have less calories. They also have a lower impact on blood sugar levels, making them an excellent choice for diabetics.
Unlike sugar, however, they are poorly absorbed by the body. This means that consuming them in big amounts or by sensitive people might result in bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Are sugar alcohols inflammatory?
Inflammation in the intestines can cause pain, diarrhea, and bleeding. What you eat is one factor that can influence the health of your intestines. Sugar alcohols are a form of carbohydrate that can induce intestinal issues, albeit they do not cause inflammation directly. Consult your doctor if you have digestive difficulties after taking sugar alcohols.