Sugar Alcohols

What is sugar alcohols?
Different from their names, sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol. They are naturally derived sugar substitutes and contain only half the calories of sugar. The reason they are so called because they are carbohydrates with a chemical structure both like sugar and wine. These substances may also be classified in the polyol group.
Sugar alcohols can be found in many foods like chewing gum, ice cream, pudding, baked goods and chocolate. They can be used as a sugar substitute alone or in combination with other sugar substitutes. Sugar alcohols not only produce a mild sweetness but also provide structure and weight to food products.
The most common sugar alcohols are:
Erythritol - 0

2 calories / gram and produces a sweetness of 60% to 80% compared to sugar
Isomalt - 2 calories / gram and 45% to 65% sweetness compared to sugar
Lactitol - 2 calories / gram and create a sweetness of 30% to 40% as sweet at sugar
Maltitol - 2.


Sugar Alcohols

1 calories / gram and produces a sweetness of 90% compared to sugar
Mannitol - 1.6 calories / gram and produces 50% to 70% sweetness compared to sugar
Sorbitol - 2.6 calories / gram and produces 50% to 70% sweetness compared to sugar
Xylitol - 2.4 calories / gram and produce sweetness equivalent to sugar
How do you identify sugar alcohols on nutrition labels?
Sugar alcohols are easily identifiable because they have the ending name in "-tol". If a food is labeled as "sugar free," the Food and Drug Administration of the United States (FDA) requires that a sugar alcohol contained in that food be clearly listed. However, if two or more types are used together, the FDA association requires that "sugar alcohols be derived" from the label (sugar alcohols in English).
Is sugar alcohols safe?
The FDA Association states that sugar alcohols are safe for users
However, you should only eat them in moderate doses.


Sugar Alcohols

Your body absorbs these substances fairly slowly, so eating too much sugar alcohols can cause bloating and diarrhea. According to the American Dietetic Association, consuming over 50 grams of sorbitol or 20 grams of mannitol per day can cause diarrhea. The FDA Association states that foods and beverages containing sorbitol or mannitol must clearly indicate the laxative effect on the label.
The benefits of sugar alcohols
Does not cause tooth decay
Has less effect than sugar on blood glucose levels
How does sugar alcohols affect blood glucose levels?
Sugar alcohols affect the blood glucose level but less than sugar. If a food contains less than 5 grams of sugar alcohols per serving (recommended amount per person per serving), it will have little effect on blood glucose. However, for foods containing more than 5 grams of sugar alcohols per serving, the American Dietetic Association recommends how to calculate how much of this food carbohydrate contributes to your meal as follows:
Subtract half of the sugar alcohol's alcohols
The result is that this food carbohydrate contributes to your meal.
References.

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