Can Diabetics Eat Sugar Alcohol?
Cutting back on sugar doesn't have to mean going without sweets. A new brand of naturally-sourced sweeteners is popping up in foods that can soothe your sweet tooth without causing surges to your blood sugar. These misleadingly named "sugar alcohols" are relatively safe for everyone, including diabetics; however, they are not risk-free. If you have diabetes, you need to monitor your sugar alcohol intake, and consume them in moderation. Video of the Day Despite their name, sugar alcohols contain neither sucrose nor ethanol, which are commonly referred to as sugar and alcohol. Sugar alcohols occur naturally in foods such as fruits and berries, and are often added to processed foods as sugar substitutes. Sugar alcohols add sweetness, bulk and texture to foods. They also help food stay moist and add a cooling sensation. They're found in a wide variety of products, from chewing gum to candy, baked desserts, energy bars and chocolate. Sugar Alcohols Vs. Artificial Sweeteners Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, or Sweet N Low, and aspartame, or NutraSweet, which are often used as tabletop sugar substitutes, have zero calories and no carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols, on the other hand, contain about 2.6 calories per gram and a small amount of carbs. Both are considered generally safe for use by diabetics, but the American Diabetes Association says sugar alcohols should not be eaten in excess. Even for people without diabetes, sugar alcohols can cause bloating, gas and a laxative effect that might cause loose stools and diarrhea. The FDA regulates both artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, and has approved several as safe for consumption. If you are watching your carb intake as part of your diabetes management regimen, it's important to understand sugar alcohols' effects o Continue reading >>
Sugar Alcohols: Good Or Bad?
For many decades, sugar alcohols have been popular alternatives to sugar. They look and taste like sugar, but have fewer calories and fewer negative health effects. In fact, many studies show that sugar alcohols can actually lead to health improvements. This article takes a detailed look at sugar alcohols and their health effects. Sugar alcohols (or "polyols") are types of sweet carbohydrates. As the name implies, they are like hybrids of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules. Despite the "alcohol" part of the name, they do not contain any ethanol, the compound that gets you drunk. Sugar alcohols are safe for alcoholics. Several sugar alcohols are found naturally in fruits and vegetables. However, most are produced industrially, where they are processed from other sugars, such as the glucose in corn starch. Sugar alcohols look like white crystals, just like sugar. Because sugar alcohols have a similar chemical structure as sugar, they are able to activate the sweet taste receptors on the tongue. Unlike artificial and low-calorie sweeteners, sugar alcohols do contain calories, just fewer than plain sugar. Sugar alcohols are types of sweet carbohydrates that are found naturally or processed from other sugars. They are widely used as sweeteners. There are many different sugar alcohols that are commonly used as sweeteners. There are several differences between them, including their taste, calorie content and health effects (1). Xylitol Xylitol is the most common and well-researched sugar alcohol. It has a distinct mint flavor, and is a common ingredient in sugar-free chewing gums, mints and oral care products like toothpaste. It is about as sweet as regular sugar, but has 40% fewer calories. Aside from some digestive symptoms when consumed in large amounts, xylitol is well Continue reading >>
What Is Sugar Alcohol Does It Contain Carbs?
If you have diabetes , you are likelya pro at reading food labels checking carbohydrates is second nature.But what aboutproducts that use sugar alcohol as a sweetener ? Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy This ingredient is increasingly popular in diabetes-friendly foods in the grocery store, but is it good for you? Heres what you need to know. Sugar alcohols, which occur naturally in fruits and vegetables, have a slightly deceptive name: They dont contain either alcohol or sugar (though they sometimes come fromdifferent types of sugar). Food manufacturers use the sweetener to reduce the amount of calories in a product while still providing sweetness. Unlike sugar, which has about 4 calories per gram, sugar alcohol has just over 2 calories per gram. Youll often find it in baked goods and sugar-free gum. Sugar alcohol converts to glucose more slowly than carbohydrates from thingslike honey, bread, rice and alcohol. It requires almost no insulin for metabolizing and doesnt cause sudden blood sugar spikes. Sounds good so far, but is there a catch? Sugar alcohol is generally considered safe for consumption. There are, however, importantthings to keep in mind. 1. Its not a good idea tobinge on it.Even though labels on products sweetened with sugar alcohol say they are diabetes-friendly or sugar-free, they still contain carbohydrates.They can raise your blood sugar. And, you can also still gain weight when eating foods that contain sugar alcohol, especially if you eat them in excess. 2. It tends to have a laxative effect, particularly in children and people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome ). Instead of being fully absorbed in the sto Continue reading >>
What Are The Effects Of Sugar Alcohols?
I am confused about the effects of sugar alcohols. How do I figure them into my daily sugar intake? — Penny, Ohio Sugar alcohols (polyols) are carbohydrates that occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. They are also made by food manufacturers from starches, glucose, and sucrose, and are commonly added to foods. Corn syrup is most commonly used to make polyols. Sugar alcohols have a couple of properties that make them attractive for people who would like to reduce their carbohydrate intake but still enjoy sweets. Here are a few things to remember: First, polyols are slowly and not completely absorbed from the gut. This reduces the quantity of carbohydrates the body absorbs and converts into glucose in the bloodstream. Second, most polyols have fewer calories than table sugar. The most common polyols are: Sorbitol (2.6 calories per gram) Maltitol (2.1 calories per gram) Lactilol(2 calories per gram) Erythritol (0.2 calories per gram) Isomalt (2 calories per gram) Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (3 calories per gram) Mannitol (1.6 calories per gram) Xylitol (2.4 calories per gram) Maltitol syrup (4.32 calories per gram) These substances have been used extensively by food manufacturers to make sugar-free and reduced-carb products. Their texture and feel can help make artificial sweeteners palatable, and they're often used as bulking agents. They are found in sugar-free candies, chewing gum, desserts, baked goods, chocolates, and ice cream. They're also found in some over-the-counter medications, including throat lozenges, cough syrup, and chewable vitamins. Many diabetics, in their efforts to reduce their carbohydrate consumption or lose weight, have turned to reduced-sugar, sugar-free, or low-carb food products. Although polyols can raise after-meal sugar levels, Continue reading >>
Eat Any Sugar Alcohol Lately?
If you've looked lately at the "Nutrition Facts" panel on a pack of sugar-free gum or candy, you might be surprised to see that it contains "sugar alcohol." Don't let the name fool you. These ingredients were given this consumer-friendly name because part of their structure resembles sugar and part is similar to alcohol. Not One in the Same Don't be confused. Although they share a similar name, sugar alcohol and alcoholic beverages do not have the same chemical structure. Sugar alcohol does not contain ethanol, which is found in alcoholic beverages. What is Sugar Alcohol? 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 by just about everyone. You may be consuming them and not even know it. Identifying Them Common sugar alcohols are mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH). Sugar alcohols are not commonly used in home food preparation, but are found in many processed foods. Food products labeled "sugar-free," including hard candies, cookies, chewing gums, soft drinks and throat lozenges often consist of sugar alcohols. They are frequently used in toothpaste and mouthwash too. Check Carbohydrates So why are sugar alcohols used so often? For one thing, they help to provide the sweet flavor to food in many products marketed t Continue reading >>
Counting Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols are still a form of carbohydrate. When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label. Some Nutrition Facts labels may also list sugar alcohols under total carbohydrate. Sugar alcohols may be found in products that are labeled “sugar-free” or “no sugar added.” This can include sugar-free candies, chocolate, and energy bars. But don’t be fooled – sugar alcohols are still a form of carbohydrate, and they still affect your blood sugar levels, if not as dramatically. Understanding Sugar Alcohols Examples of sugar alcohols include: Sorbitol Xylitol Mannitol Isomalt Maltitol Lactitol Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates Here’s what you need to know: Because sugar alcohols are hard for the body to digest, the effect on blood sugar levels is less than standard sugar. When counting carbohydrates for products made with sugar alcohols, subtract half of the grams of sugar alcohol listed on the food label from the total grams of carbohydrate. Remember that because sugar alcohols are harder for your body to digest, eating too many sugar alcohols may cause digestive complaints like gas, cramping and diarrhea. Now let’s practice using the sample food label shown here: The amount of sugar alcohol is 18 grams per serving. Calculate half the grams of sugar alcohol (18 grams of sugar alcohol divided by 2 equals 9 grams). Subtract only half of the grams of sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrate Count this product as 20 grams of carbohydrate (29 grams total carbohydrate minus 9 grams sugar alcohol equals 20 grams of carbohydrate). When counting carbohydrates, include half of the sugar from the sugar alcohol. Self-assessment Quiz Self assessment quizzes are available for topics co Continue reading >>
Is Sugar Alcohol Bad For You?
If you eat protein bars, or low sugar foods, you’ve probably seen sugar alcohol listed among the ingredients in many popular brands. Sugar alcohols are found most commonly in food products labeled “sugar-free,” including hard candies, cookies, chewing gums, and soda, but have recently become very popular in “health foods”. Do you really know what you’re consuming? Is sugar alcohol bad for you? The short answer to the latter question is “no”, sugar alcohol is not bad for you, but it is not intrinsically healthy either. What Is Sugar Alcohol? Sugar alcohol gets its name because of its molecular structure, which is a hybrid between a sugar molecule and an alcohol molecule. Biochemically speaking, sugar alcohols are structurally similar to sugar but are either poorly digested (e.g., maltitol), or poorly metabolized (e.g., erythritol). Sugar alcohol has grown in popularity as a “sugar replacement” in foods such as protein bars because they contain few calories, minimally impact insulin levels, are safe for those with diabetes, and are better for your teeth. Here’s a list of some popular sugar alcohols so you can identify them when you look at a nutrition label: Erythritol Maltitol Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates Isomalt Lactitol Mannitol Sorbitol Xylitol The two major sugar alcohols found in protein bars and most low sugar foods are maltitol and erythritol, which are explored in more detail below. Sugar Alcohol #1: Maltitol Maltitol, the more popular of the two, has only 2.1 kilocalories per gram (compared to 4 for sugar) and is comprised of glucose and sorbitol (see image on right). Only 80% as sweet as sugar, maltitol has 47% fewer calories…and won’t rot your teeth! The downside of maltitol is its poor absorption. In high doses, it will cause a l Continue reading >>
Sugar-free Labels Can Be Deceptive
The only thing I thought I knew about diabetes in the beginning was that I was not supposed to have sugar anymore. Other than that I was completely ignorant. The idea of never eating another chocolate-covered almond threw me into a real pity party. Then one day I was standing at the pharmacy counter waiting for a prescription. Looking around I saw rows of candy with “sugar free” in big letters on the packages. People with diabetes could still have candy? Wonderful! I grabbed a chocolate bar and stuck it in the bag with my diabetes medicine. That candy bar did not make it home. I ate it in the car. It was delicious, with no bitter aftertaste and no guilt. If you have tried sugar-free candy, you know what happened later. In a few hours I had awful stomach pains and gas. My first thought was, “what is diabetes doing to me now?” The problem was not diabetes. It was maltitol. Maltitol and sugar-free labels Many of us with diabetes have learned the hard way about sugar alcohols like maltitol. These modern sweeteners are usually made from sugar by fermentation or chemical reactions. Because it is no longer considered sugar, maltitol can be added to things like candy and other desserts to make them “diabetes friendly.” The makers can claim their product is sugar free. Sugar alcohols are popular because they have no bitter aftertaste like most other artificial sweeteners. But I’ve stopped buying sugar-free candy with maltitol. Here is why: At 2.1 calories per gram, maltitol has a little over half the calories of sugar (which is 4 calories per gram). But maltitol syrup has a glycemic index of 52, which is not that much better than table sugar’s glycemic index of 60. What does that mean to you? Your pancreas perceives maltitol as sugar, raising your insulin needs. Continue reading >>
What Are Net Carbs?
I have type 1 diabetes, and my son recently gave me a package of sugar-free hard candy that was labeled "0 net carbs." The back of the package said, "To calculate net carbs, subtract the sugar alcohols from the total carbs in the product, because sugar alcohols have minimal impact on blood sugar." I am concerned and confused about this labeling. Continue reading >>
Artificial Sweeteners: Any Effect On Blood Sugar?
Can I use artificial sweeteners if I have diabetes? Answers from M. Regina Castro, M.D. You can use most sugar substitutes if you have diabetes, including: Saccharin (Sweet'N Low) Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) Acesulfame potassium (Sunett) Sucralose (Splenda) Stevia (Pure Via, Truvia) Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, offer the sweetness of sugar without the calories. Artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than sugar, so it takes a smaller amount to sweeten foods. This is why foods made with artificial sweeteners may have fewer calories than those made with sugar. Sugar substitutes don't affect your blood sugar level. In fact, most artificial sweeteners are considered "free foods" — foods containing less than 20 calories and 5 grams or less of carbohydrates — because they don't count as calories or carbohydrates on a diabetes exchange. Remember, however, other ingredients in foods containing artificial sweeteners can still affect your blood sugar level. More research is needed, but studies are increasingly finding that the benefits of substituting sugar-sweetened food and beverages with those that have been sweetened artificially may not be as clear as once thought, particularly when consumed in large amounts. One reason may be a "rebound" effect, where some people end up consuming more of an unhealthy type of food because of the misperception that because it's sugar-free it's healthy. Also, be cautious with sugar alcohols — including mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Sugar alcohols can increase your blood sugar level. And for some people, sugar alcohols may cause diarrhea. Continue reading >>
Sugar Alcohols Fact Sheet
BACKGROUND Sugar alcohols or polyols, as they are also called, are sugar replacers and have a long history of use in a wide variety of foods. Recent technical advances have added to the range of sugar alcohols available for food use and expanded the applications of these sugar replacers in diet and health-oriented foods. They have been found useful in sugar-free and reduced-sugar products, in foods intended for individuals with diabetes, and most recently in new products developed for carbohydrate controlled eating plans. Sugar alcohols are neither sugars nor alcohols. They are carbohydrates with a chemical structure that partially resembles sugar and partially resembles alcohol, but they don’t contain ethanol as alcoholic beverages do. They are incompletely absorbed and metabolized by the body, and consequently contribute fewer calories than most sugars. The commonly used sugar alcohols include sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, lactitol, erythritol, isomalt and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates. Their calorie content ranges from zero to three calories per gram compared to four calories per gram for sucrose or other sugars. Most sugar alcohols are less sweet than sucrose; maltitol and xylitol are about as sweet as sucrose. Sugar alcohols occur naturally in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but are commercially produced from other carbohydrates such as sucrose, glucose, and starch. Along with adding a sweet taste, polyols (sugar alcohols) perform a variety of functions such as adding bulk and texture, providing a cooling effect or taste, inhibiting the browning that occurs during heating and retaining moisture in foods. Polyols neither prevent nor cause browning. FORMS OF SUGAR ALCOHOLS The table below shows commonly used sugar alcohols along Continue reading >>
Confused About Sugar Alcohols? What Every Diabetic Should Know
Confused about sugar alcohols? Many people with diabetes hear that sugar alcohols are not sugar, they don't raise your blood sugar, and you can subtract them from your carbohydrate count. What is the real scoop on sugar alcohols? In the past, diabetics were told they should not have any sugar whatsoever in their diet. Today, diabetics can have "certain" sugars in their diet and still meet the goals they set for themselves or by their health care professionals. One of the more confusing topics you'll run across is sugar alcohols and how it relates to Type 2 diabetes. What Are Sugar Alcohols - Sugar alcohols are Not Created Equal Sugar alcohols are a kind of reduced-calorie food sweetener often seen in sugar free or no sugar added food content; they are actually carbohydrates. The intention of these sweeteners is to prevent rapid rise of diabetics' blood sugar to dangerous levels, which will generally happen with regular sugar. You can find sugar alcohols in all kinds of products like sugar free candy, cookies, ice cream, fruit spreads, gums, etc. You can also find sugar alcohols in medicines and dental cleaning products like toothpaste and mouthwash. This type of carbohydrate energy ranging from 0.2 to 3 calories per gram compared to 4 grams per calorie of regular sugar and many carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols do not contain ethanol, which is used in alcoholic drinks so you won't get drunk from it. Make sure to look for products that contain the following sugar alcohols (carbohydrates). Below, we have listed some of the more popular sugar alcohols with the calories they deliver and their Glycemic Index. Note: in the United States 1 Calorie = 1 kilocalorie in the metric system Glycemic Index (GI) High Intermediate Low Very Low GI Values Greater than 70 55 to 70 40 to 54 Les Continue reading >>
What are sugar alcohols? Sugar alcohols are a type of sweetener used in foods labeled "sugar-free." You'll find them in chewing gum, sugar-free candies, cookies, soft drinks, and other foods. Sugar alcohols have about one-half to one-third fewer calories than sugar. For example, if a food label doesn't list sugar as an ingredient, but it has 20 grams of sugar alcohol, that is equal to the calories in about 10 grams of sugar. If you are counting carbohydrate and there are more than 5 grams of sugar alcohol in the food, you can subtract half the grams of sugar alcohol from the total grams of carbohydrate. For example, if the food has 30 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of sugar alcohol, you can count that food as 26 grams of carbohydrate Sugar alcohols occur naturally in plant foods in small amounts, such as berries and fruits. Common names for sugar alcohols are erythritol, glycerol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH). What are sugar alcohols used for? Sugar alcohols are used to sweeten diet foods. They are also used in chewing gums, toothpaste, and mouthwash. People who have diabetes eat foods made with sugar alcohols, because sugar alcohols turn to glucose more slowly and don't cause sudden increases in blood sugar. Sugar alcohols used in chewing gum do not cause tooth decay. If foods are "sugar-free," does this mean I can eat all I want? No. Even though the food is "sugar-free," it still has carbohydrate and calories. If you have diabetes, read food labels closely to find out the amount of carbohydrate in each serving of food containing sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols don't cause sudden spikes in blood sugar, but they do have some effect on it. Artificial sweeteners, on the other hand, are calorie-free a Continue reading >>
What Is Sugar Alcohol?
Q: About six years ago my husband went on an insulin pump, which has been a lifesaver. I can't imagine anyone keeping a better record of his carbohydrates and insulin. In looking for sugar-free products, we've been reading a lot of labels and have discovered that most cookies that claim to be sugar-free are sweetened with sugar alcohol. Can you explain what sugar alcohol is and if it's OK for him to eat? A: First of all, good work on reading labels -- it's the best way to know what's in the foods you're eating. Sugar alcohols are a group of calorie- and carbohydrate-containing sweeteners that are neither sugar nor alcohol. Unlike non-nutritive artificial sweeteners, which are also used to sweeten some sugar-free foods, sugar alcohols can elevate blood glucose levels, but to a lesser degree than the same amount of carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols are metabolized incompletely by your body, so they contribute fewer calories and have less impact on blood glucose levels than sugar has. They can contain an average of 2 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram of other carbohydrate sources. Commonly used sugar alcohols include: hydrogenated starch hydrolysates People who take insulin or some oral diabetes medications may have problems with insulin reactions after eating foods made with sugar alcohol because of the slow digestion rate. You may need to take less insulin if you eat such products. You should also know that desserts made with sugar alcohol typically are not much lower in calories and fat than their regular counterparts. The 2008 Nutrition Recommendation published by the American Diabetes Association states that "there is no evidence that the amounts of sugar alcohol likely to be consumed will reduce glycemia (sugar in the blood), energy intake, or weight." If eate Continue reading >>
What Are Sugar Alcohols?
The sugar alcohols commonly found in foods are sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, isomalt, and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates. Sugar alcohols come from plant products such as fruits and berries. The carbohydrate in these plant products is altered through a chemical process. These sugar substitutes provide somewhat fewer calories than table sugar (sucrose), mainly because they are not well absorbed and may even have a small laxative effect. Many so-called "dietetic" foods that are labeled "sugar free" or "no sugar added" in fact contain sugar alcohols. People with diabetes MISTAKENLY think that foods labeled as "sugar free" or "no sugar added" will have no effect on their blood glucose. Foods containing these sugar alcohols need to have their calorie and carbohydrate contents accounted for in your overall meal plan, as it is carbohydrate that raises blood glucose levels. Since many people typically overeat "sugar free" or "no sugar added" foods, their blood glucose may be significantly elevated. So the next time you pick up a dietetic food labeled "sugar free" be sure to check the label to see if these sugar alcohols are listed. Most importantly, be sure to check what the total carbohydrate content is per serving of any food, and incorporate that carbohydrate in your overall meal plan. If the product contains any total carb grams, it may likely come from sugar alcohols. Find more information about nutrition and diabetes in Staying Healthy with Diabetes – Nutrition & Meal Planning available from the Joslin Online Store. Continue reading >>