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 means common sugar does, they are often helpful to people who wish to management their blood sugar ranges or consumption.
Merchandise that embody them are sometimes marketed as “low-carb” or “sugar-free.”
Right here’s what you must 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, corresponding 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 gaggle of short-chain carbohydrates often known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols — a.ok.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. In the event you 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 loss plan sodas, and different sweets.
Sugar alcohols may additionally be utilized in meals merchandise for texture and moisture (and to stop browning throughout cooking).
Forms of Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols embody:
- Erythritol (in sweeteners like Truvia)
What Is the Distinction Between Sugar and Sugar Alcohols?
Sugar alcohols “present fewer energy than regular sugar, and the metabolism is a bit completely 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 soak up sugar alcohols in the identical means it metabolizes sugar, Allen says, they supply fewer energy than common sugar.
One sugar alcohol specifically, erythritol, incorporates 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 incorporates roughly half the quantity of energy, and a teaspoon of Truvia (erythritol) incorporates zero energy.
Are Sugar Alcohols Dangerous for You?
“It’s definitely okay to eat sugar alcohols, however don’t overdo it,” Allen says.
They’ll typically trigger bloating, gasoline, 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 could additionally trigger some unintended effects.
And for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, FODMAPs typically have been associated with long-term gastrointestinal symptoms.
Analysis means that the unintended effects are extra possible when greater quantities are consumed.
Can You Eat Sugar Alcohols on a Sugar-Free Weight-reduction plan?
It depends upon the plan. Some sugar-free diets advocate eliminating them completely.
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 moderately, and it’s essential to think about the potential GI unintended effects.
In the event you’re making an attempt to kickstart a sugar-free way of life, chances are you’ll discover it’s greatest to chop out meals sweetened with sugar alcohol.