Sugar alcohol does not contain ethanol, which is found in alcoholic beverages Common sugar alcohols are mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH
Sugar alcohols, also know as polyols, are ingredients used as sweeteners and bulking agents. They occur naturally in foods and come from plant products such as fruits and berries. As a sugar substitute, they provide fewer calories (about a half to one-third less calories) than regular sugar. This is because they are converted to glucose more slowly, require little or no insulin to be metabolized and don't cause sudden increases in blood sugar. This makes them popular among individuals with diabetes; however, their use is becoming more common.
Sugar alcohols vs. artificial sweeteners
Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin (Sweet & Low®) and aspartame (Equal® or Nutrasweet®), are not one and the same.
One difference between the two types of sugar substitutes is that the artificial sweeteners contain zero calories whereas sugar alcohols contain about 2.6 calories per gram.
Another issue is diabetes management.
Artificial sweeteners do not contain carbohydrates so they do not cause blood sugar to elevate, whereas, sugar alcohols have some effect on blood sugar. Overall, both can be useful in diabetes management when used properly.
Nutritive sweeteners (eg, sucrose, fructose)
Nutritive sweeteners increase risk of dental caries. High fructose intakes may cause hypertriglyceridemia and gastrointestinal symptoms in susceptible individuals. Thus, it is the position of The American Dietetic Association that consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed in a diet that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary References Intakes, as well as individual health goals.
There are two kinds of sweeteners:
Nutritive sweeteners supply calories and energy to the body. Like sugar, they have 4 calories per gram. Examples include honey and corn syrup
Non-nutritive sweeteners are called sugar substitutes. They have no calories and provide no energy to the body. Most do not break down in the body as sugar does. They simply leave the body in the urine. Examples include aspartame and saccharin
INcluded under the nutritive sweetners is
Sugar alcohols. This type, which includes sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol, is used in candy, chewing gum, and in some baked goods. Sugar alcohols have about half the calories of other nutritive sweeteners. They are called sugar alcohols because of their chemical structure. They do not contain alcohol. Unlike sugar, they do not contribute to dental cavities.
The real benefit of using sugar alcohols is that they do not contribute to dental caries. Bacteria in the mouth can't metabolize sugar alcohols as rapidly as sugar
Sugar alcohols don't break down completely in the body, so they do not affect blood sugars.