Sugar alcohols are the sugars in alcohol, right? Wrong actually, the term “sugar alcohol” can be quite misleading as they are neither a sugar nor an alcohol. Confused yet? Allow me to explain then. Sugar alcohols are in most “sugar free” and “diet” products and once you know what to look for you will be amazed at just how many products contain some form of them. They are sweet to the tongue and are poorly digested by the body, making them what manufacturers believe to be the perfect type of sweetener. Unfortunately for some unlucky people these sugar alcohols can cause all sorts of bodily upsets.
What Are Sugar Alcohols
A sugar alcohol is also know as a polyol and can be classified as a carbohydrate. Sugar alcohols naturally occur in many fruits and vegetables, but are most widely consumed in sugar-free and reduced-sugar foods. The sweetness of sugar alcohols varies from 25% to 100% as sweet as table sugar (sucrose). The chemical structure of sugar alcohols is a hybrid between a sugar molecule and an alcohol molecule, hence the name, but they are neither one nor the other. Although included in most sugar free products, sugar alcohols do have a caloric value. This value is generally half that of sugar and is very low on the glycemic index, which is great for controlling blood sugar levels. Sugar alcohols also don’t ferment in the mouth when coming into contact with oral bacteria, which is another plus for dealing with oral health.
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