Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are a type of low-calorie sweetener that occur naturally in some fruits and vegetables, but can also be synthesized from sugars like glucose and sucrose. They are commonly used as sugar substitutes in many processed foods, beverages, and oral care products because they have a sweet taste but are lower in calories and do not cause the same spike in blood sugar levels as regular sugar.
Examples of commonly used sugar alcohols include:
Sugar alcohols are not completely absorbed by the body, so they provide fewer calories than regular sugar. They also have a lower glycemic index, which means they do not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, making them a good option for people with diabetes or those who are watching their sugar intake.
One potential downside of consuming sugar alcohols is that they may cause digestive issues like bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people, particularly when consumed in large amounts. Additionally, some sugar alcohols like xylitol can be toxic to dogs and other animals, so it's important to keep them away from pets.
Overall, sugar alcohols can be a useful tool for reducing sugar intake and managing blood sugar levels, but they should be consumed in moderation and individuals should pay attention to how their bodies react to them.
Here are some examples of naturally occurring sugar alcohols:
It's important to note that while these sugar alcohols occur naturally, they are often commercially produced by chemically modifying sugars like glucose or sucrose. Additionally, some sugar alcohols, such as xylitol and erythritol, are more commonly used as sugar substitutes in foods and beverages.
There have been several studies on the side effects of sugar alcohols, including xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol, and others. Here are some of the latest research findings:
It's important to note that the research on sugar alcohols is ongoing, and more studies are needed to fully understand their potential health effects. Overall, sugar alcohols are generally considered safe for consumption in moderation, but individuals should be aware of potential side effects and consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian if they have any concerns.
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does stevia 100% natural sugar alcohol?
No, stevia is not a sugar alcohol. It is a plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener that is extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. Stevia is considered a natural sweetener because it is derived from a plant source, unlike artificial sweeteners that are typically chemically synthesized. However, it is important to note that some brands of stevia-based sweeteners may contain other ingredients in addition to pure stevia extract, such as natural flavors or sugar alcohols like erythritol, to improve their taste or texture.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. It is a zero-calorie sweetener that is commonly used as a sugar substitute in many processed foods, beverages, and dietary supplements. Here are some other sugar alternatives that are similar to stevia:
It's important to note that while these sugar alternatives are generally considered safe for consumption, they may have different taste profiles and may not be suitable for all recipes or applications. It's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet.
Option #1: Stevia
Stevia comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, which is native to South America and has been used for several hundred years. Steviol glycosides extracted from the plant are responsible for its sweet taste.
Sweetness: 200-350 times sweeter than table sugar.
Best choices: Liquid stevia or 100% pure powdered or granulated stevia. Note that some packets of granulated stevia such as Stevia in the Raw contain the sugar dextrose. The brand Truvia contains added erythritol (see below) but no dextrose.
Option #2: Erythritol
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, a compound that resembles sugar but is only partially digested and absorbed by the body.
Erythritol occurs naturally in plants and fungi like grapes, melons, and mushrooms in small amounts. However, as a commercial sweetener, it is usually made from fermented corn or cornstarch. Erythritol is generally recognized as safe by the FDA.
In 2023, a study showed a link between high blood levels of erythritol and an increased risk of heart attack and strokes.
However, this association was based on very weak data. More research is needed to determine if consuming erythritol increases cardiovascular risk, particularly since other studies suggest it may be beneficial rather than harmful to health.
Sweetness: 70% as sweet as table sugar.
Best choices: Granulated or powdered erythritol or erythritol and stevia blends.
Option #3: Monk fruit
Monk fruit is a relatively new sugar substitute. Also called luo han guo, monk fruit was generally dried and used in herbal teas, soups and broths in Asian medicine. It was cultivated by monks in Northern Thailand and Southern China, hence its more popular name.
Although the fruit in whole form contains fructose and sucrose, monk fruit’s intense sweetness comes from non-caloric compounds called mogrosides. In 1995, Proctor & Gamble patented a method of solvent extraction of the mogrosides from monk fruit.
The US FDA has ruled that monk fruit is generally regarded as safe. It has not yet been approved for sale by the European Union.
Sweetness: 150-200 times sweeter than table sugar.
Best choices: Granulated blends with erythritol or stevia, pure liquid drops, or liquid drops with stevia. Also used in replacement products like monkfruit-sweetened artificial maple syrup and chocolate syrup.
Option #4: Xylitol
Like erythritol, xylitol is a sugar alcohol found in fruits and vegetables in small amounts. It is produced commercially from corn cobs or birch trees. Xylitol is one of the most frequently used sweeteners in sugar-free chewing gum and mouthwash.
Unlike the other three sweeteners discussed above, xylitol is only low carb, not zero carb. So it may not be the best choice on a keto diet (below 20 grams of net carbs per day) unless used in very small amounts.
When used in small amounts, this results in a very minor impact on blood sugar and insulin levels.
Sweetness: Equivalent in sweetness to table sugar.
Best choices: Pure granulated xylitol made from corn cob or birch wood extraction.
Although we prefer to use erythritol in most of our dessert recipes, xylitol is included in some of our ice cream recipes because it freezes better.