What Are Sugar Alcohols?

Sugar alcohols are substances that have part of their structure similar to that of sugar and the other part resembling alcohol. This type of alcohol comes from plant products, like berries and fruits, and is not the same ethanol that is present in alcoholic beverages.

The carbohydrates which can be found in these plant products are then altered through a chemical process, which subsequently provides fewer calories than what table sugar, known as sucrose, has.

Sugar Alcohols                                                                                                               Photo Credit: lowcarbluxury.com

This is because sugar alcohols are absorbed in a slower manner and need less insulin for breaking down. This has less impact on people suffering from diabetes, though.

Aside from that, sugar alcohols attract many people, especially those who want to reduce their carbohydrate intake. They can still indulge in the pleasures of eating sweet foods.

However, we should keep in mind that too much of anything causes harm to our bodies. Mannitol, for example, is a sugar alcohol found in olives, pineapples, sweet potatoes, asparagus, and carrots. When ingested in large amounts, it causes the so-called laxative effect: diarrhea and gastrointestinal cramps.

Sugar Alcohols                                                                                                           Photo Credit: wisegeek.org

Other examples of sugar alcohols that can be found naturally in foods are xylitol, isomalt, and sorbitol, as well as hydrogenated starch hydrolysates. One of the most common foods that contains sugar alcohol is corn syrup.

Most products which are being labeled “sugar-free” or “no sugar added”, in actuality, have these sugar alcohols. This is the most common mistake made by diabetics.

Diabetics often think that these foods won’t have any effect on their health condition. What they don’t know is that they have to account for the carbohydrate and caloric contents in these foods containing the sugar alcohols.

If not, it will cause them to go over their carbohydrate limit and their blood glucose levels rise. Since a lot of diabetics often commit these mistakes and eat these “sugar-free” foods, the chance of the elevation of their blood glucose is high.

So the next time that you are going grocery shopping, be aware of the sugar alcohols in fruits and in other foods which are listed on the back of the products.

It is always better to check things out and not to just rely on the false information that you often see in the advertisements of these products.

In addition to this, check the total amount of carbohydrate content per serving of any kind of food. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to completely eliminate all sugar alcohols in your diet. But as much as possible, limit their intake.

Moderation is always the best tool in keeping you healthy, or at least in preventing further complications or harmful effects.

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