Sugar alcohols are candy natural chemical compounds generally used as a sugar substitute. As a result of they don’t influence blood sugar in the identical method common sugar does, they are often useful to people who need 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 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 quite a lot 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 generally 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 diet label, have a look at the tip of every ingredient. If you happen to see an “itol” on the finish of it, which means it’s a sugar alcohol — which is a little bit of a misnomer since they’re neither sugar nor alcohol. They’re, nevertheless, chemically processed synthetic sweeteners.
The low-calorie sweeteners could also be present in “sugar-free” variations of meals like sweet, chewing gum, cookies, pudding, eating regimen sodas, and different sweets.
Sugar alcohols might also be utilized in meals merchandise for texture and moisture (and to stop browning throughout cooking).
Sorts 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 somewhat completely different,” Allen explains. Whereas sugar usually will get fully 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 method it metabolizes sugar, Allen says, they supply fewer energy than common sugar.
One sugar alcohol particularly, erythritol, incorporates no energy, as a result of it’s excreted into the urine and doesn’t influence 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 actually okay to eat sugar alcohols, however don’t overdo it,” Allen says.
They will generally trigger bloating, fuel, and diarrhea as a result of they’re not fully digested within the intestine and never fully absorbed by your physique. That is what makes them decrease in energy than sugar, however it might additionally trigger some unwanted side effects.
And for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, FODMAPs typically have been related to long-term gastrointestinal signs.
Analysis means that the unwanted side effects are extra possible when greater quantities are consumed.
Can You Eat Sugar Alcohols on a Sugar-Free Eating regimen?
It will depend on the plan. Some sugar-free diets suggest eliminating them fully.
However people trying to eat much less sugar and keep 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 vital to think about the potential GI unwanted side effects.
If you happen to’re attempting to kickstart a sugar-free life-style, you might discover it’s greatest to chop out meals sweetened with sugar alcohol.