Sugars, Sugar Substitutes And Sweeteners: Natural And Artificial
If you’re living with diabetes, or even if you’re not, you might think sweet foods are a barrier to your healthy, balanced diet. As a general rule,everyone should be eating less sugar– but sometimes, only something sweet will do. If want to lose weight, or you’re trying to keep your blood glucose levels stable, you may want to know whether artificial sweeteners could help. If you browse around your local supermarket, you’ll see a huge range of sweeteners on offer, so it can be baffling to know which, if any, to go for. So in this section we'll take you through: Sweeteners are ingredients that are added to food to enhance sweetness. They can be grouped in different ways: One way is to loosely group sweeteners as: sugar or sugar substitutes.Another way to group sweeteners is whether the sweetener is: natural or artificial. One of the most useful ways of grouping sweeteners is to look at those that have nutritive value, ie nutritive sweeteners, and those without nutritive value, ie non-nutritive or ‘low-calorie’ sweeteners. Nutritive sweeteners There are different types of nutritive sweeteners, but they all contain carbohydrate and provide calories. They are usually referred to as ‘sugars’ or ‘added sugar’, but they can also appear in the ingredient list of food packaging as: glucose fructose sucrose maltose honey and syrup, etc. Polyols One group of nutritive sweeteners is polyols, which are sugar alcohols, and include: erythritol isomalt maltitol mannitol sorbitol xylitol. They can be natural or artificially produced. Polyols contain carbohydrates and calories, but they have fewer calories and less of an effect on blood glucose levels than sucrose (sugar). Polyols and diabetes It’s not exactly clear how the polyols should be ‘counted’ by peopl 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 >>
Primer On Sugar Alcohols
Confused about, as a client referred them: “those sugar alcohols”? If so, check out my cut to the chase answers below: What are Sugar Alcohols? Sugar alcohols, also called polyols, are neither sugar or alcohol. They’re called sugar alcohols because part of their structure resembles sugar and part alcohol. Keep in mind they do contain carbohydrate. Today polyols are in “sugar-free” foods, such as candy, cookies, ice creams and gums. They’re used alone or combined with a sugar substitute (e.g. sucralose, aspartame) to both sweeten and provide bulk (volume). (FYI: you couldn’t make a sugar-free ice cream or cookie with a sugar substitute only. The polyol provides necessary bulk.) Commonly used polyols are sorbitol, erythritol, and mannitol. Do they raise blood glucose? Sugar alcohols cause a lower rise in blood glucose (however, not zero rise) because they’re only partially digested and thus contain, on average, contain 2 calories per gram vs. 4 calories per gram for most other sources of carbohydrate. (Don’t forget: foods that contain sugar alcohols also contain other ingredients which may or may not contain carbohydrate. If they contain carbohydrate, they will impact blood glucose.) However, because people most often eat foods that contains sugar alcohol on occasion vs. regularly, the American Diabetes Association notes: “there’s no evidence that the amount of sugar alcohols likely to be consumed reduce glucose, calorie intake or weight.” And it’s certainly easy for people to fool themselves because foods with sugar alcohols often brag about being “sugar-free” (see next: What’s the meaning of “sugar-free”?) What’s the meaning of “sugar-free”? You’ve got to understand what “sugars” means. Sugars (note the plural), per FDA, i Continue reading >>
Marketing Tricks That Make Carb Counting Tough: Net Carbs, Sugar Alcohols. Etc
People who are trying to cut down on their carbs can have a tough time determining how many grams of carbs are really in the foods they buy. Every drugstore and supermarket in U.S. is filled with snack products that claim to be perfect for people with diabetes or for those eating a low carb diet for weight loss. Often the front of the package will assert that this "low carb" product provides 2 or 3 "effective" grams of carbohydrate while the nutritional panel on the back of the package--the only part of the package that the FDA regulates--lists a much higher carbohydrate and/or sugar content. If these disappearing make you suspicious, you may prefer to buy products that list only a gram or two of carbs in their nutritional information panel. But a look at their ingredient list may show that mysterious substances like maltitol, glycerine or polydextrose are major ingredients of these bars, too--and that these are the exact same substances reported on labels of the bars that claim to supply only "3 grams of Net Carbs" on the front of the package and list 20-something grams of carbs in their nutritional information panel. Deceptive Labels Trick Those Just Beginning to Cut Down on Carbs Most of these "low carb" products are sweetened with substances called "sugar alcohols," which the FDA allows manufacturers to describe as "sugar free." You will find these chemicals in almost every product found in your supermarket as suitable for people with diabetes. The most common are maltitol, lacitol, and sorbitol. Despite the name, these aren't sugars or alcohols. They are hydrogenated starch molecules which are a byproduct of grain processing. These sugar alcohols are manufactured by the three large agribusiness companies: SPI Polyols, Roquette America, Inc. and Archer Daniels Midla Continue reading >>
Ask The Nutritionist: The Scoop On Sugar Alcohols
Q: What are sugar alcohols and how do they impact Net Carb count? A: Many low-carb products are sweetened with a form of sugar called sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols come in the form of ingredients such as glycerin, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol, isomalt, lactitol and maltitol. Sugar alcohols provide a sweetness and mouth feel similar to sugar, without all the calories and unwanted metabolic effects. Sugar alcohols are not fully absorbed by the gut, which means they provide roughly half the calories that sugar does. Thanks to this incomplete and slower absorption, there is a minimal impact on blood sugar and insulin response. Because of this, sugar alcohols don’t significantly interfere with fat burning, which makes them acceptable on Atkins. However, since a portion of sugar alcohols aren’t fully absorbed in the gut, there is the potential that consuming too much may produce a laxative effect or cause some gastrointestinal problems. Most people can usually handle 20 to 30 grams a day. To calculate Net Carb count with sugar alcohols, simply subtract grams of sugar alcohols (including glycerin), as well as fiber, from total grams of carbs. Continue reading >>
The concept sounds simple — only carbohydrates have more than minimal effect on blood glucose. The problem with understanding it is, however, that different carbohydrates affect blood glucose to different degrees. That’s the basis of the glycemic index, which is having more and more influence on low-carb diets like that of the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins. Carbohydrates We call them carbohydrates because they are essentially hydrates of carbon. That means one carbon atom links one atom of water. Their composition is CxH2xOx. We call the simple sugars — glucose, fructose, and galactose — monosaccharides. Their structural formula is C6H12O6. What we call disaccharides have two sugar units bonded together. For example, common table sugar (sucrose) is a disaccharide that consists of a glucose unit bonded to a fructose unit. Other carbohydrates are long chains of simple sugar units bonded together. That’s why we often refer to them as polysaccharides. Starch, a polymer of glucose, is the principal polysaccharide that plants use to store glucose for later use as energy. Glycogen is another polymer of glucose. It is the polysaccharide that animals (including humans) use to store energy. Excess glucose bonds together to form glycogen molecules, which animals store in the liver and muscle tissue as a quick source of energy. Alpha cells of the pancreas secrete glucagon, which stimulates liver cells to break down glycogen and release glucose to the blood stream. We use it to treat hypoglycemia. Cellulose is a third polymer of glucose. It’s different from starch and glycogen because it has hydrogen bonds holding together nearby polymers, which gives it added stability. Humans can’t digest cellulose, which we also know as plant fiber. Consequently, it passes through the d Continue reading >>
Sorbitol: Helpful For Diabetics?
Sorbitol is a low-calorie sweetener chemically extracted from glucose. It is used as an alternative to sugar in a range of foods, including low-calorie and sugar-free foods, as well as pharmaceutical and oral health products, such as toothpaste and chewing gum. Sorbitol has less of an effect on blood sugar levels than sugar, which can benefit people at risk of developing diabetes. It has the look and feel of table sugar, but with 60% of sugar's sweetness and 30% fewer calories (2.6kcal/g, compared to 4kcal/g for sugar). When eaten, sorbitol has a mouth-cooling sensation, with virtually no aftertaste. It also helps food stay moist, making it a useful ingredient in the production of confectionery, baked goods and chocolate. Sorbitol is a polyol – a type of carbohydrate generally manufactured from sugar. Polyols are banned from soft drinks in the EU because of their laxative effect. Sorbitol naturally occurs in certain foods, such as apples and pears; stoned fruit, such as peaches and apricots; and dried fruit, such as prunes and raisins. When ingested, sorbitol is slowly and only partially absorbed in the intestine and converted into fructose in the liver. Too much sorbitol in the intestine can cause water retention, resulting in diarrhoea. If consumed in large amounts, it can cause side effects such as bloating and gas. Unabsorbed sorbitol is broken down into carbon dioxide and then eliminated. The EU's Scientific Committee on Food stated in a 1985 report that ingesting 50g a day of sorbitol causes diarrhoea. Foods that are made up of more than 10% sorbitol must carry a warning that excessive consumption may have a laxative effect. A 2011 report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the health claims of polyols, including sorbitol, concluded that they promote Continue reading >>
Definition Of Sugar Alcohols (polyols)
Sugar alcohols are low-calorie sweeteners similar to sugars but with additional “alcohol” (OH) groups, so they are also called polyols [poly = multiple; -ol refers to alcohol] . Sugar alcohols are not true sugars; they are usually less sweet than sugars and are poorly digestible and incompletely absorbed. They provide 2.4 kilocalories per gram (except erythritol, which provides no calories), as opposed to sugars, which provide about 4 kilocalories per gram . Sugar alcohols have nothing with the drinking alcohol (ethanol): they do not make you drunk and are not toxic. Chart 1. Examples of Sugar Alcohols in Foods SUGAR ALCOHOL E-NUMBER Erythrytol E968 Glycerol (Glycerin) E422; GRAS Isomalt E953 Lactitol E966 Maltitol E965 Mannitol E421 Polyglycitol syrup or hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH) E964 Sorbitol E420; GRAS Xylitol E967; GRAS Are sugar alcohols good for you? Tooth Decay Unlike sugars, sugar alcohols do not promote tooth decay, since the bacteria in mouth do not readily convert them to acids . Xylitol and, to a lesser extent, sorbitol may even have a protective effect on teeth [8,9,10]. Blood Glucose and Diabetes Sugar alcohols raise blood glucose levels less than sugars ─ they have low glycemic index (GI <10) [11,12,14]. Are sugar alcohols bad for you? Side Effects Polyols belong to FODMAPs, that is fermentable oligo-, di- or monosaccharides and polyols, which are poorly digestible but can be broken down (fermented) by normal large intestinal bacteria. In sensitive individuals, they can cause abdominal bloating, excessive gas or diarrhea within several hours of ingestion. When consumed in large amounts (probably more than 20 grams) by healthy adults or in small amounts (few grams) by children or individuals with fructose malabsorption or irrita Continue reading >>
The Best And Worst Low Carb Sweeteners
Most people that start a keto diet plan find that they have some intense cravings for sugar in the beginning, but will dissipate after a few weeks. Even the seasoned low carber will tell you that they have cravings every once in a while, sometimes burning inside them so deep they want to give up to temptation. That’s where sweeteners come in, where you can make or bake things you usually can’t eat. Of course, you will have to watch out because most things that say “carb free” actually still contain carbs. Make sure you take the net carbs of any impacting sweetener into consideration when tracking your macros. As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to try to avoid sweeteners in the beginning. They’re well known to cause cravings and some may stall your progress with over-use. Stay strict and try to only occasionally consume sweet treats when you are on a low carb diet. Types of Sweeteners In general, there are a few classifications of sweeteners. There are natural sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and synthetic sweeteners (or artificial sweeteners). There are a few others that aren’t exactly classified in these categories (like glycerin based sweeteners) but they are quite uncommon and rarely used, so we’ll skip going over them. For a ketogenic diet, I personally suggest sticking with erythritol and stevia (or a blend) because they are both naturally occurring, don’t cause blood sugar or insulin spikes, and sweeten just perfectly. When used in combination, they seem to cancel out the aftertaste that each has, and work like a charm. When you purchase sweeteners, make sure to take a look at the ingredients on the packaging. You normally want the pure sweetener, rather than having fillers such as maltodextrin, dextrose, or polydextrose which can cause spik Continue reading >>
Are All Polyols Zero-carb?
Low-carb and Keto diets are gaining popularity. The market is slowly waking up to recognise our niche. I keep seeing new product brands – low-carb cookies, Keto bars, sugar-free sweets… It’s great to have so much choice. Unfortunately, not all these products are as good as they claim. Small companies – usually run by low-carb dieters and enthusiasts – tend to stick to the diet’s principles. They care about their clients and make products that are genuinely low-carb. However, some unscrupulous businesses jump on the bandwagon to make a quick buck. Either they don’t understand low-carb well enough – or they don’t care. Their products might carry the “low-carb” or “sugar-free” labels – while containing sugar, in some form or another. There is one particular trick that I see very often – incorrect labelling of sugar polyols. What are polyols You have probably already come across polyols in sugar-free products. Their names usually end in ”…ol”. Popular polyols are: xylitol sorbitol maltitol lactitol mannitol erythritol Polyols are organic substances derived from real sugar. Our bodies cannot process them in full. Therefore, not all the carbs they contain are digestible. So far, so good. The problem with polyols The biggest myth about polyols is that they are all zero-carb – not true! All polyols are partially non-digestible. But the digestible amount varies a great deal. It depends on the type of polyol – some are almost zero-carb, but some go as high as 60% carbs. The dirty trick by dodgy low-carb merchants is to pretend all polyols are zero-carb. They subtract grams of polyols from total carbs and bingo! They can slap something like “3g net carbs” on their product – whereas in reality, the carb content is much higher. Low-carb Continue reading >>
Sweeteners And Diabetes
Artificial sweeteners that contain either saccharine, aspartame or acesulfame potassium (acesulfame K, Ace K) are suitable for use by people with diabetes as a replacement for sugar as they are very low in calories and do not affect blood glucose levels. Examples of products which contain these sweeteners include Hermesetas, Flix, Natrena, Canderel, Sweetex, Sweet’N Low, and NutraSweet. These products are available in tablet and/or powder form. Add sweeteners after cooking as heat can change their taste. Products Which Are Not Recommended For People With Diabetes Some sweeteners contain sugar (e.g. Sucron, Half Spoon) and should not be used by people with diabetes as an alternative to sugar. Sugar substitutes (e.g. sorbitol, fructose) are high in calories and in large amounts can cause diarrhoea, and therefore these are also not recommended. Foods containing sorbitol, xylitol, fructose or mannitol are not recommended for people with diabetes, in part because they are expensive, but also because they are often high in calories and can still cause a rise in blood glucose and blood fats. Polyols, such as xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and isomalt are usually used in significant quantities in manufactured foods. They have been used as a substitute for sucrose in products such as chocolates, confectionary, biscuits and chewing gum and most are labelled as sugar free. This can be perceived as being healthier and often consumers do not realise that these foods still contain significant amount of CHO, calories and fat. Hence they need to be accounted in the daily nutritional intake. Polyols have a slightly lower glycaemic response than sucrose and provide less energy 2.4kcal /g compared with 3.75kcal/g of other sugars due to incomplete digestion and absorption. But most polyols Continue reading >>
Is Sugar Alcohol Really Safe For Diabetics?
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. 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, they raise them less than does table sugar. To determine the amount of carbohydrates in polyols, you should look at a food's nutrition label. The label will have a carbohydrate section under which the number of grams of polyols are listed. Reduce that number by 50 percent — divide by 2 — to arrive at the total amount of carbohydrate you will absorb. For example, if 10 grams of polyols are listed for one serving of a food, you will absorb about 5 grams. You should also consider the total number of calories in low-carb foods. Ultimately, here's what you should remember: You don't need to completely eliminate natural sugar, including sugar alcohols, from your diet. Any kind of sugar should, however, be eaten in Continue reading >>
Nutrition Q&a: Sugar Alcohols Are No Panacea For Diabetes
Question: I have Type 2 diabetes. I like to have low-sugar nutrition bars handy for snacks or missed meals, so I’ve begun buying bars that contain sugar alcohols. What do you think about these bars and sugar alcohol in general? Answer: I’m glad you asked. You’re not alone. “Lots of my clients are confused by foods labeled ‘sugar-free’ and containing one or more of these foreign-sounding ingredients with an ‘ol’ ending,” says Lise Gloede, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and owner of Nutrition Coaching, a private practice in Arlington. For people with diabetes, the topic of sugars and sweets is steeped in outdated advice and misconceptions that linger. And new products are showing up on supermarket shelves to catch the eyes of a growing market. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that 29 million people in the United States have diabetes and another 86 million people, one in three U.S. adults, are estimated to have prediabetes. Let’s start with current guidance about sweets, then get to sugar alcohols. Historically, sugary foods were forbidden for people with diabetes. The notion was that calorie-containing sweeteners such as sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc., and foods containing them, raised blood glucose quickly — and faster than starchy foods and other sources of carbohydrates, such as fruit and milk. Then in the late 1980s, research punched holes in this theory, which eventually led to significant changes in the American Diabetes Association recommendation in the mid-1990s. This is the ADA’s basic recommendation: People with diabetes can substitute some sugar and foods containing sugars without affecting their glucose or blood fat (lipid) levels. But, a critical caveat: People are advised to make Continue reading >>
Complete Guide To Sweeteners On A Low-carb Ketogenic Diet
Most people on low-carb find that once they get used to the diet, the cravings for sugar go away. Many even claim not to use any sweeteners at all. However, you may find it hard to give up sweets, especially at the beginning. I've been researching for natural low-carb sweeteners as well as other healthy alternatives to sugar. As always, there are many sweeteners you should avoid. I personally avoid using sweeteners regularly and only use them for occasional treats. In fact, most of my recipes in KetoDiet, KetoDiet Basic and my new cookbook don't include any sweeteners at all. If your target is weight loss, sweeteners may impair your progress, as even so-called "zero-carb" sweeteners may cause cravings. If your weight is stalling, avoiding sweeteners or joining my 30-Day Clean Eating Challenge is a good way to break the weight loss plateau. You can download a print-friendly version of this guide here! Best Natural Low-carb Sweeteners Following is an overview of healthy sweeteners you could use provided your net carbs limit allows for it. People with very low net carbs limit should avoid using anything other than "zero-carb" sweeteners, like Stevia, Monk fruit sweetener or Erythritol. 1. Stevia Stevia is an herb, which is commonly known as "sugar leaf". The extract from this herb is used as a sweetener and sugar substitute. Based on the USDA database, Stevia belongs to a group of non-nutritive sweeteners. This means there are no calories, vitamins or any other nutrients. The availability of Stevia can vary from country to country. Nowadays, it is commonly used in the US and was approved for use in the EU in 2011. The health effects of Stevia have been questioned for the past few decades. However, based on recent studies of the WHO (World Health Organization), Stevia extra Continue reading >>
Benefits Of Polyols
Consumers say they regularly use low-calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages to stay in better overall health or simply because they taste good. Many of these products contain ingredients called “sugar alcohols,” frequently referred to as “polyols.” A polyol (or sugar alcohol) is not a sugar, nor an alcohol. Polyols are a group of low-digestible carbohydrates derived from the hydrogenation of their sugar or syrup source (e.g., lactitol from lactose). These unique sweeteners taste like sugar but have special advantages. There are several polyols used as ingredients in sugar-free foods: erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (including maltitol syrups), isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. In addition to their clean sweet taste and unique functional properties, polyols offer important health benefits. For example, they are reduced in calories and do not cause sudden increases in blood sugar levels. Importantly, polyols are not readily converted to acids by bacteria in the mouth and, therefore, do not promote tooth decay. Since most polyols are not as sweet as sugar they are often used in combination with approved low-calorie sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium, aspartame, stevia, neotame, saccharin or sucralose. Scientific research supports the fact that these low-calorie sweeteners, like polyols, do not promote tooth decay. Learn more In some people, over consumption of polyol-containing foods may cause gastrointestinal symptoms, including laxative effects, similar to reactions to beans, cabbage and certain high-fiber foods. Such symptoms are dependent upon an individual’s sensitivity and the other foods eaten along with the polyol-containing product. Any gastrointestinal symptoms (such as a feeling of fullness) from consuming Continue reading >>