Are you a fan of chewing gum but trying to cut down on your sugar intake? Look no further than sugar-free gum, like Extra gum.
But what kind of sweeteners are used to give it that familiar sweetness? Enter sugar alcohols. These low-calorie alternatives to sugar are commonly used in sugar-free gum, and Extra gum is no exception.
But what exactly are sugar alcohols, and how do they differ from regular sugar? In this article, we’ll explore the world of sugar alcohols and take a closer look at what kind is used in Extra gum.
So sit back, grab a piece of gum (sugar-free, of course), and let’s dive in!
What Kind Of Sugar Alcohol Is In Extra Gum?
The sugar alcohol used in Extra gum is primarily xylitol, along with other sugar alcohols like sorbitol and mannitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that occurs in fruits, vegetables, and cereals. It has the same relative sweetness as sugar but with only half the calories.
Xylitol is known for its dental benefits, as it inhibits oral bacteria and doesn’t contribute to cavity formation. In fact, the American Dental Association recognizes that sugar-free gum, like Extra gum, can help protect teeth.
Sorbitol and mannitol are also commonly used in sugar-free gum. Sorbitol is naturally found in apples and pears, while mannitol occurs in carrots, olives, and asparagus. These sugar alcohols provide a similar sweetness to sugar but with fewer calories.
Extra gum also contains artificial sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame K. These sweeteners, along with the sugar alcohols, allow Extra gum to be marketed as sugar-free.
What Are Sugar Alcohols?
Sugar alcohols are a type of sweetener commonly used in sugar-free products like chewing gum, mints, and oral care products. They are called “sugar alcohols” because they have a chemical structure that is similar to both sugar and alcohol. However, they do not contain ethanol, which is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.
Sugar alcohols are popular because they provide a sweet taste without the same amount of calories as regular sugar. They are also less likely to cause tooth decay because they do not promote the growth of oral bacteria that can lead to cavities.
There are several types of sugar alcohols, including xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, and erythritol. Xylitol is the most commonly used sugar alcohol in chewing gum because it closely mimics the taste of sugar and has dental benefits. Sorbitol and mannitol are also commonly used because they provide a similar sweetness to sugar but with fewer calories.
While sugar alcohols are generally safe to consume in moderation, consuming large amounts can cause digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, and stomach aches. Some people may be more sensitive to these side effects than others. It’s important to read food labels carefully and consume sugar alcohols only in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
How Do Sugar Alcohols Compare To Regular Sugar?
Sugar alcohols, like xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol, are often used as a substitute for regular sugar in many processed foods, including gum. While regular sugar is 100% natural and exclusively comes from fruits, plants, vegetables, and milk, most sugar alcohols are artificial. Sugar is easily digested and used for energy in the body, while sugar alcohols are not absorbed or digested fully. However, sugar alcohols have some benefits over regular sugar.
Firstly, sugar alcohols have fewer calories than regular sugar. Sugar has about 4 calories per gram, while sugar alcohol has just over two. This means that foods made with sugar alcohols can be a good option for those who are conscious of their caloric intake.
Secondly, sugar alcohols are easier on blood sugar management. Unlike regular sugar, they don’t cause sudden blood sugar spikes and are considered a low glycemic index food. This means that they may cause only a slight rise in blood sugar levels.
Thirdly, sugar alcohols don’t contribute to tooth decay as much as regular sugar does. This is because they don’t provide the same environment for oral bacteria to thrive. In fact, some toothpaste brands even use xylitol to help make it taste better while cleaning teeth.
Lastly, if you’re on a low-carb diet, you can have sugar alcohols. They are much lower in carbs and have a lower glycemic index than regular forms of sugar. However, it’s important to note that overeating foods with sugar alcohols can still lead to digestive problems such as gas, diarrhea, and cramping for some people.
The Use Of Sugar Alcohols In Sugar-Free Gum
Sugar alcohols, like xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol, are commonly used in sugar-free gum as a replacement for sugar. They provide a sweet taste without the added calories and don’t promote cavities like regular sugar. These sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol, but instead a special type of carbohydrate that shares characteristics of both.
While there is no recommended amount for sugar alcohols, they should be consumed in moderation like most foods. Eating too much of sugar alcohols can lead to bloating, gas and diarrhea in some individuals since they are not completely absorbed by the body. Because of this, the FDA mandates that foods containing certain amounts of the sugar alcohols sorbitol or mannitol must include a warning on the food label saying that “excess consumption may have a laxative effect.”
It’s important to note that different types of sugar alcohols have different levels of sweetness and may have different effects on the body. Xylitol is about as sweet as sugar and is known for its dental benefits, while sorbitol is about half as sweet as sugar and is naturally found in apples and pears. Mannitol is 50% to 70% as sweet as sugar and naturally occurs in carrots, olives, and asparagus.
The Specific Sugar Alcohol Used In Extra Gum
As mentioned above, the primary sugar alcohol used in Extra gum is xylitol. Xylitol is a popular sugar alcohol that is known for its dental benefits and natural occurrence in fruits, vegetables, and cereals. It has the same relative sweetness as sugar but with only half the calories.
In addition to xylitol, Extra gum also contains other sugar alcohols like sorbitol and mannitol. Sorbitol is naturally found in apples and pears, while mannitol occurs in carrots, olives, and asparagus. These sugar alcohols provide a similar sweetness to sugar but with fewer calories.
By using a combination of sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners like aspartame and acesulfame K, Extra gum is able to provide a sweet taste without the added calories of sugar. This also allows Extra gum to be marketed as sugar-free.
Potential Benefits And Risks Of Sugar Alcohols In Gum Consumption
Consuming sugar alcohols in chewing gum can offer potential benefits for dental health. Xylitol, a type of sugar alcohol found in Extra gum, inhibits oral bacteria and doesn’t contribute to cavity formation. Additionally, the act of chewing gum promotes the flow of saliva, which can neutralize some of the byproducts produced when food is broken down by bacteria on teeth. The American Dental Association recognizes that sugar-free gum, like Extra gum, can help protect teeth.
However, it’s important to note that consuming high amounts of sugar alcohols can have unpleasant side effects. Some sugar alcohols, such as sorbitol, may cause bloating and diarrhea, especially if consumed in large amounts. Sugar alcohols are not fully absorbed by the body and may provoke symptoms for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Foods labeled “sugar-free” or “no added sugar” may still provide calories, fat, and carbohydrates, so it’s important to read food labels and be aware of nutritional information.