Are you someone who is sensitive to sugar-alcohols or simply intolerant to these laxative sugars? If so, you may have noticed that some fruits contain significant amounts of sugar-alcohol.
But what exactly is sugar alcohol and how does it differ from regular sugar? Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate that can be added to foods and drinks to make them sweeter without adding the same amounts of calories and carbs as regular sugar.
They occur naturally in certain fruits and vegetables, but some are man-made and are added to processed foods. In this article, we’ll explore which fruits contain sugar alcohol and how they can affect your health.
What Fruits Contain Sugar Alcohol?
Some of the most common fruits that contain sugar alcohol include apples, pears, nectarines, blackberries, cherries, lychees, and watermelon. These fruits are a natural source of sugar alcohol called sorbitol. Sorbitol is about half as sweet as regular sugar and is often used as a sugar substitute in many processed foods.
Another fruit that contains sugar alcohol is pineapple. Pineapple contains a natural source of sugar alcohol called mannitol. Mannitol is also found in olives, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and carrots. It is extracted from seaweed for use in food manufacturing.
Other fruits that contain sugar alcohol include berries like blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. These fruits contain a natural source of sugar alcohol called sorbitol. Apricots, avocados, peaches, and plums also contain sorbitol.
What Are Sugar Alcohols And How Are They Different From Regular Sugar?
Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are a type of carbohydrate that are used as sweeteners and bulking agents in many processed foods. They are neither sugars nor alcohols, but they have a chemical structure that is similar to both. Sugar alcohols occur naturally in certain fruits and vegetables, but they are also produced industrially for use in food manufacturing.
Compared to regular sugar, sugar alcohols provide fewer calories, about a half to one-third less calories. They are also about 25-100% as sweet as regular sugar, but they do not have the same negative effects on the body as regular sugar. For example, sugar alcohols do not promote tooth decay and do not significantly raise blood sugar levels.
When consumed, sugar alcohols are considered low digestible carbs. This means that they travel to the large intestine, where bacteria ferment them. Certain sugar alcohols may contribute to a healthy digestive system by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, similar to fiber.
Sugar alcohols are commonly used in many lower-calorie and sugar-free foods like energy bars, ice cream, pudding, frosting, cakes, cookies, candies, and jams. They are often combined with artificial sweeteners to make foods taste sweeter. Sugar alcohols are also used in sugar-free gum and mouthwash because they do not cause cavities.
What Are The Health Benefits And Risks Of Consuming Sugar Alcohols?
There are both health benefits and risks associated with consuming sugar alcohols. One of the main benefits is that they have fewer calories and carbohydrates than regular sugar, making them a good option for individuals with diabetes or those trying to lose weight. In addition, sugar alcohols do not cause cavities like regular sugar does, which is why they are often used in sugar-free gum and mouthwash.
However, there are also some risks associated with consuming sugar alcohols. One of the most common side effects is gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea when consumed in excessive amounts. This is because sugar alcohols are not fully absorbed by the body and instead are fermented by small intestine bacteria, causing indigestion.
Furthermore, for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other similar gastrointestinal conditions, sugar alcohols can be a trigger for symptoms. This is because sugar alcohols are a type of short-chain carbohydrate included in the FODMAP acronym, which stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. For these individuals, a low-FODMAP diet may be recommended to control gastrointestinal symptoms.
How Can You Manage Your Intake Of Sugar Alcohols While Still Enjoying Fruit?
While it’s true that many fruits contain sugar alcohols, it’s important to manage your intake of them while still enjoying the health benefits of fruit. One way to do this is to choose fruits that are lower in sugar alcohols, such as berries and citrus fruits. These fruits are also high in fiber, which can help slow down the absorption of sugar and sugar alcohols in your body.
Another way to manage your intake of sugar alcohols is to be mindful of the portion sizes of fruit you consume. While fruit is generally considered a healthy food, consuming too much of it can still lead to an excessive intake of sugar and sugar alcohols. It’s recommended that adults consume 1-2 servings of fruit per day, with one serving being equivalent to one medium-sized fruit or 1/2 cup of chopped fruit.
Additionally, you can opt for fresh or frozen fruit instead of canned fruit, which may have added sugars and sugar alcohols. When choosing processed foods that contain sugar alcohols, be sure to read the ingredient list and nutrition label carefully to determine the amount of sugar alcohols per serving.
What Are Some Alternative Sweeteners To Sugar Alcohols?
If you’re looking for alternative sweeteners to sugar alcohols, there are a few options to consider. One option is high-intensity sweeteners, which are chemicals that provide an intense level of sweetness without any calories. Some examples of high-intensity sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose.
Another alternative sweetener is stevia, which is derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. Stevia is a natural sweetener that is much sweeter than sugar, but it has zero calories and does not affect blood sugar levels.
Monk fruit extract is another natural sweetener that has gained popularity in recent years. It’s derived from the monk fruit and is much sweeter than sugar, but it has zero calories and does not affect blood sugar levels.
Finally, you can also use fruit purees like applesauce or mashed bananas as a substitute for sugar in recipes for cakes, cookies, muffins, and breads. These fruits offer health benefits due to their nutrients and are generally linked to a variety of health benefits, including a reduced risk of chronic disease and a lower risk of death from all causes. Just be sure to select unsweetened products with no added sugar if you’re buying them from the store.