Sugar alcohols are candy natural chemical compounds generally used as a sugar substitute. As a result of they don’t impression blood sugar in the identical method common sugar does, they are often useful to people who wish to management their blood sugar ranges or consumption.
Merchandise that embrace them are sometimes marketed as “low-carb” or “sugar-free.”
Right here’s what you should learn about sugar alcohols — and whether or not or not these sugar substitutes are best for you.
What Is Sugar Alcohol?
“Sugar alcohols are sugar substitutes used as sweeteners in a wide range of merchandise, similar to sweet and gum,” says Natalie Allen, MS, RD, an teacher of biomedical sciences at Missouri State College.
Technically, they’re a part of a bunch of short-chain carbohydrates often known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols — a.okay.a. FODMAPs. (Sugar alcohols are a part of the “P” — polyols.)
To identify them on a vitamin label, have a look at the top of every ingredient. If you happen to see an “itol” on the finish of it, meaning it’s a sugar alcohol — which is a little bit of a misnomer since they’re neither sugar nor alcohol. They’re, nonetheless, chemically processed synthetic sweeteners.
The low-calorie sweeteners could also be present in “sugar-free” variations of meals like sweet, chewing gum, cookies, pudding, weight-reduction plan sodas, and different sweets.
Sugar alcohols may be utilized in meals merchandise for texture and moisture (and to forestall browning throughout cooking).
Kinds of Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols embrace:
- Erythritol (in sweeteners like Truvia)
What Is the Distinction Between Sugar and Sugar Alcohols?
Sugar alcohols “present fewer energy than common sugar, and the metabolism is a bit totally different,” Allen explains. Whereas sugar sometimes will get utterly absorbed in your small gut, sugar alcohols are incompletely absorbed there.
As a result of the physique doesn’t take up sugar alcohols in the identical method it metabolizes sugar, Allen says, they supply fewer energy than common sugar.
One sugar alcohol particularly, erythritol, accommodates no energy, as a result of it’s excreted into the urine and doesn’t impression blood glucose and insulin ranges.
For instance, a teaspoon of granulated sugar has 16 energy. The identical quantity of xylitol powder accommodates roughly half the quantity of energy, and a teaspoon of Truvia (erythritol) accommodates zero energy.
Are Sugar Alcohols Unhealthy for You?
“It’s definitely okay to eat sugar alcohols, however don’t overdo it,” Allen says.
They will typically trigger bloating, fuel, and diarrhea as a result of they’re not utterly digested within the intestine and never utterly absorbed by your physique. That is what makes them decrease in energy than sugar, however it may additionally trigger some negative effects.
And for folks with irritable bowel syndrome, FODMAPs typically have been related to long-term gastrointestinal signs.
Analysis means that the negative effects are extra possible when increased quantities are consumed.
Can You Eat Sugar Alcohols on a Sugar-Free Food regimen?
It is determined by the plan. Some sugar-free diets suggest eliminating them fully.
However people trying to eat much less sugar and preserve higher blood sugar management might profit from sugar alcohols.
The underside line that sugar alcohols aren’t sugar “freebies.” They need to nonetheless be consumed sparsely, and it’s necessary to contemplate the potential GI negative effects.
If you happen to’re making an attempt to kickstart a sugar-free life-style, you might discover it’s greatest to chop out meals sweetened with sugar alcohol.